Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46) will start the PTT Thailand Grand Prix from his maiden pole position as the Italian pulled off a perfect final assault in Q2, pulling a tenth clear of the pack to become the 10th different polesitter since the opening race in Qatar – a record in a single Moto3™ season, equalling 2016. He’s also the first rookie to start from pole in the class since Joan Mir at the 2016 Austrian GP, and will have Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing) and Albert Arenas (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team) for company on the front row.
After an almighty downpour on Saturday morning, the track had dried out by the time the lightweight class headed out for Q1, with the sun back beating down on Buriram. In that first qualifying session it was Vietti who led the way, the Italian topping the session and joined in Q2 by John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing), Raul Fernandez (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team) and Filip Salač (Redox PrüstelGP). Rookie Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) was one man to lose out, a crash for the Aragon podium finisher seeing him end Q1 in tenth.
With the final 18 then back on track for Q2, the fight for pole was well and truly on. After the first runs it was Championship leader Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) who sat on top, but that would all change in the last frantic dash as the timesheets took another shuffle and first Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), then Arenas and then, finally, Vietti blasted to the top.
Behind the maiden polesitter, Ramirez slotted into second and pushed Arenas down to P3 as the two Spaniards complete the front row, with Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) impressing to head the second row as he continues his bounce back from injury. Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) continued his better pace of late to go fifth fastest, with Canet pushed down to the outside of the second row. For the Championship challenger, however, it remains an impressive result as Canet missed the first Thai Grand Prix last year due to injury.
Friday’s fastest man, Andrea Migno (Mugen Race) heads up the third row ahead of Rodrigo, with Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers) team taking ninth. Championship leader Dalla Porta was tenth quickest and will want to make some forward progress on race day, joined on the fourth row by Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46), who took his maiden podium at Buriram last year.
John McPhee (Petronas Yamaha SRT) took P13, just ahead of Raul Fernandez and Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race). The two riders who were 14th and 15th in Q2, Filip Salač and teammate Jakub Kornfeil, both serve grid penalties and will start 27th and 25th respectively.
Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) is another rider who was in Q2 with a penalty to serve and he’ll be penultimate on the grid, with only Riccardo Rossi (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) behind him after the Italian was also given a back of the grid start. Darryn Binder (CIP – Green Power) takes his six-place grid penalty given at Aragon and starts 26th.
That’s a wrap on Saturday at Chang International Circuit, tune in on Sunday when Moto3™ go racing at 11:00 (GMT +2).
1 – Celestino Vietti (ITA – KTM) 1’42.599
2 – Marcos Ramirez (SPA – Honda) +0.118
3 – Albert Arenas (SPA – KTM) +0.152
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