Raul Fernandez has claimed pole position for the Portuguese Grand Prix with Jeremy Alcoba and Ayumu Sasaki completing the front row.
Moto3 got qualifying underway in Portimão with a nail-biting opening 15-minute session. Darryn Binder, who was second to last after the third free practice session stormed to the top of the timesheets setting a 1:47.635 to lead Tatsuki Suzuki, Ai Ogura, who got through into Q2 by the skin of his teeth, and Niccolò Antonelli. Tony Arbolino failed to make it out of Q1, finishing the session in 13th, starting on the ninth row in 27th place.
Ogura’s opening session was a tense one, pitting after his first and second lap, meaning he had a last-ditch effort to put himself in the top four positions. However, for the Japanese rider, he found traffic in the final two sectors. Miraculously, the 2021 Moto2-bound rider squeezed through the traffic and put his Honda Team Asia Moto2 machine into third, securing a Q2 spot.
Tony Arbolino’s strategy let him down, finding traffic in both of his runs, resulting in a ninth row start – all but ending his championship hopes.
The sound of Moto3 bikes once again echoed the Algarve for the second and final qualifying session, however, the riders took their time, in typical Moto3 fashion the pit lane was filled with riders and teams as they waited for a rival to take to the 2.83-mile circuit.
Raul Fernandez was the first rider to take to the track and a stream of Moto3 machines followed the Spaniard, meaning the opening run would be crucial to avoid traffic.
With ten minutes on the clock, Kaito Toba led team-mate Fernandez across the line as the riders began their first timed lap.
At the end of the opening flurry of laps it was the Gresini duo of Jeremy Alcoba and Gabriel Rodrigo who led the charge, as half of the Moto3 field rolled back down pit lane.
Andrea Migno’s opening lap was on to forget, sliding off his SKY VR46 machine at turn four, causing a yellow flag. The Italian was followed into the gravel traps by Rodrigo, who slid off at turn 12.
Raul Fernandez then leapt to the top of the timesheets, however times were still slower than Binder’s Q1 effort.
With five minutes on the clock, the riders rolled back down pit lane, strapping on a new rear tyre ahead of their final runs. That gave the rest of the field a much clearer track, with half of the field still to set a time.
Eyes were on Ai Ogura, who crossed the line with two and a half minutes on the clock. The 19-year-old was leading the chasing pack but made another costly error at turn five. Unharmed, Ogura continued on but once again faced a last-ditch effort to set a competitive time.
The chasing group missed the flag after messing around during their out lap, involving Arenas. Migno, Toba and Binder all failed to set a time.
Eyes were back on Agura who crossed the line to jump ahead of Arenas to fifth place.
Raul Fernandez claimed yet another pole position with Jeremy Alcoba and Ayumu Sasaki completing the front row.
The Moto3 World Championship decider gets underway tomorrow at 11am.
The full Moto3 grid can be found here.
Featured image: MotoGP.com