Fenati clinches pole position for the Moto3 season opener in Qatar

Sky Racing Team VR46 rider Romano Fenati has finished fastest on his KTM with a time of 2:06.131 which will leave him in pole position on the Moto3 for the first race of the season at Losail International Circuit in Qatar, after a dramatic final few minutes during qualifying.

Fenati clinches pole position for the Moto3 season opener in Qatar
Fenati enjoyed an impressive qualifying session | Photo: Getty Images

Most of the riders made their way straight onto the track as soon as the forty minute session started and they waited for a spot to begin their fight for pole position.

The usual slipstream tactic was used by many and riders waited for someone to take the lead and planned to use the clear air behind them.  RBA Racing Team rider Juanfran Guevara set the pace with a fastest time of 2:07.024 before Romano Fenati overtook him being the first to break into the 2:06 laps. The battle then began as many riders began to join him as they broke through the 2:07 minutes barrier.

Livio Loi fastest during free practice

During sessions FP1-3 it was Livio Loi who was fastest overall after it was only him and Fabio Quartararo who were able to get below 2:06 minutes. However neither could achieve this during qualifying and the Belgium RW Racing GP BV Team rider was beaten to pole by just 0.057 seconds which left him second on the grid after he led with just six minutes to go. He is the fastest out of all the Honda riders in the lightweight class and was able to gain his fastest time without using the slipstream of bikes in front; many riders seemed to wait to see what his tyre choices were before they re-joined him when he returned to track part the way through the session.

Brad Binder who was strong throughout winter testing at Qatar finished in third during qualifying; the South African Red Bull KTM Ajo rider grabbed his spot within the last three minutes. The Leopard Racing Team won the 2015 Moto3 Championship and so they promoted their rider Danny Kent; Quartararo replaced him on board the KTM after racing for Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc DVS. Quartararo finished in fourth on the grid despite running out wide with eighteen minutes to go.

Brad Binder during qualifying | Photo: Mirco Lazzari
Brad Binder during qualifying | Photo: Mirco Lazzari

Quartararo’s replacement on the EG 0,0 Honda, Jorge Navarro who has looked very strong throughout testing and practice, took the lead briefly but ended up in fifth after a crash at turn six with 16 minutes to go. He finished ahead of his teammate Aron Canet who is the fastest rookie on the grid. Niccolo Antonelli, who came off his Ongetta-Rivacold Honda during FP3 managed to finish seventh despite the impact almost breaking his collarbone and crashing again during qualifying with 17 minutes to go.

Phillip Oettl and Khairul Pawi came into contact ten minutes in on turn one as Oettl swung out wide to enter the corner hitting Pawi who was on his outside, luckily neither rider came off.  Lorenzo Petracca also meant sure his team had a late night before the race as he crashed in a big way at turn 14 with 13 minutes to go, he was unhurt.

Just one second covered the top 18 riders. Joan Mir who was second fastest during FP2 slipped down to eleventh, after he ended up crashing into his teammate in the last few minutes and had to return to the pits before the session ended. Rookie Nicolo Bulega, teammate of pole position place Fenati, certainly made his new presence felt during testing. He finished sixth overall after session FP1-3 however slipped to 13th overall, 0.655 seconds slower than his ‘big brother’ in the Sky Racing Team VR46. He finished six places above their teammate Andrea Migno.

The fastest Mahindra is ASPAR Team Moto3 rider Jorge Martin. His time of 2:06.931 left him 0.6 seconds slower behind Fenati. Alexis Masbou is the fastest Peugeot in the Moto3 class, the Peugeot Saxoprint RTG Team rider finished with a time of 2:07.209 which is over a second slower than the time set for pole position.

The only female in the class Maria Herrera ended up finishing in 25th after a promising start finishing seventh after FP1; the MH6 Laglisse rider was 1.24 seconds slower than the leader. The only British rider in the class John McPhee only managed to place 30th on the grid.

The Moto3 season is expected to be a close one

The Moto3 class is always a close race with approximately ten riders competing for the first position. Slip-streaming down the straights and late braking leads to positions changing most corners. The first race for the class under the floodlights will require a lot of attention from riders and all those watching it.  With many rookies, the top two riders from the 2015 promoted and many riders having attended the VR46 riders Academy, it is set to be an action packed season with many contenders looking to battle for the crown of 2016 Moto3 Champion.