By the end of FP3 in Argentina it was Sky Racing VR46 Team rider Romano Fenati who led the way as the only rider in the Moto3 class who was able to lap in the 1’49s with a time of 1:49.994.
Fenati was unable to achieve this time in qualifying though and it was Red Bull KTM Ajo rider Brad Binder who was the only one who could break the barrier and ended up in pole position with his time of 1:49.767. Fenati lapped 0.324 seconds slower and managed to gain second on the grid with his time from his last lap; he finished ahead of Estrella Galicia 0,0 Team rider Jorge Navarro who was the fastest Honda starting in third with a time of 1:50.134.
Difficult FP3 session for some riders
By the end of FP3, the top ten riders were covered by one second and all appeared to be setting consistent lap times. Peugeot MC Saxoprint rider John McPhee fell off his 250cc machine at turn five after entering the corner just slightly offline, he was unhurt.
MH6 Laglisse rider Maria Herrera, the only female in the class, had a major ‘moment’ where she was almost thrown from the bike however she made a fantastic save and managed to stay on the KTM. At the very end of the session though, Herrera lost the front end on turn 11 which meant she came off, she just nearly missed the front of Jakub Kornfeil’s Drive M7 SIC Racing Team Honda; she was able to get back on her bike and return to the track however the session had ended. Herrera finished twenty-sixth overall after finished FP3 in sixteenth.
Many challenged for fastest time in the final stages of FP3
Things started to heat up during the last ten minutes of FP3 with Schedl GP Racing Team rider Philipp Oettl and RW Racing GP BV rider Livio Loi making it to the the top of the timesheets temporarily, they finished in 13th and 10th after qualifying. Binder nearly went into the dirt with a few minutes to go but was able to continue on track.
Busy qualifying session saw the majority of riders on track
It was Honda Team Asia rider Khairul Idham Pawi who finished in fourth position ahead of Fenati’s teammate, as his time of 1:50.206 briefly left him at the top, he improved by 0.002 seconds. Binder then performed his fastest lap time which knocked him off the pole position spot. Rookie Nicolo Bulega who was just over half a second slower than his teammate by the end of the busy qualifying session where a lot of the Moto3 class took to the track straight away. Leopard Racing team rider Joan Mir finished sixth resulting in a second row on the gird full of rookies.
The riders tend to go out in groups so they can ‘catch a tow’ of another faster rider; they will follow the rider in front’s lines and sit in the clean air behind them so they have more power available when they need to save seconds at the end of the lap. When Ongetta-Rivacold rider Niccolo Antonelli left the tracks he had approximately fifteen riders who joined him. Some riders waited the stalk the Red Bull KTM Ajo teammates of Binder and Bo Bendseyder; the two went out to work on improving Bendseyder’s time indicated by the ‘follow me’ gesture received from Binder.
More crashes occured
Darryn Binder, younger brother of Brad on the Platinum Bay Real Estate Mahindra, crashed out of turn three at the start at qualifying, he was able to walk but with a limp and finished in 31st on the grid. Gresini Racing Team Moto3 rider Enea Bastianini ran out wide on turn 5 and when he touched the dirty part of the ‘’run-off’ section, he was almost thrown from the bike. RBA Racing Team Gabriel Rodrigo then crashed at turn two and then added to the dirt on the track; by dumping the grass he had accumulated down the side of his bike in the middle of the road. He crashed again at Turn 10 with four minutes to go ending his qualifying session early.
Riders penalised for overuse of the track
A few riders including the Mahindra rider Francesco Baganaia where unable to count some lap times that they had accumulated as they were penalised for overuse of the track.
With two minutes to go Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider Aron Canet suffered a ‘high-side’ as he came up inside the KTM of Andrea Migno on his Sky Racing Team VR46 bike; the two touched as Canet was forced to the curb of the turn and was thrown over the handlebars of his bike, he finished fourteenth position on the grid.
More drama in final minutes
In the final minute there was a pile up of three bikes that crashed out including Juanfran Guevara (RBA Racing Team), Karel Hanika (Platinum Bay Real Estate), Lorenzo Petrarca (3570 Team Italia) and Francesco Bagnaia (Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3). Guevara crashed taking out the other three who were following closely, none of the riders seemed hurt but were disappointed.
The fastest Mahindra was ASPAR Mahindra Team Moto3 rider Jorge Martin whose time of 1:51.204, which was 1.257 seconds slower than Binder, left him in nineteenth on the grid. Alex Masbou was the fastest Peugeot on his MC Saxoprint bike’ his time of 1:51.196 which was 1.429 seconds slower than Binder who secured his first ever pole position ahead of the second round of the season in Argentina.