The Moto3 class were the first to take to the modified track layout at the Circuit de Barcelona, Catalunya for the extended third Free Practice session ahead of Qualifying for the Moto3 class. Unfortunately Moto2 rider Luis Salom (SAG Team) succumbed to his injuries following a crash on the first day of the seventh meeting of the season. Because of this, a Safety Commission Meeting was held with 10 riders, which resulted in officials deciding to change turn ten and introduce a chicane bypassing turn 12.
With the consent of the Salom family, the event was to continue and the 250cc class began the day earlier than originally scheduled, to take to the track for a longer (55 minutes) final Free Practice session so riders could become familiar with the new layout. Although the track is now slightly shortened, the final sector means that the lap times increased by over approximately three seconds.
Navarro the man to beat after FP3
Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) took the top spot of the leaderboard straight away as they settled into the session with a time of 1:56.246. He chipped away at his time and eventually broke into the 1:55 minute laps and continued to improve his time.Other riders were strong through the first three sectors including Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3) and rookie Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing VR46), who were looking to take the lead but they lost time as expected in the last section as they gradually became more acquainted with it.
Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) eventually managed to beat Navarro’s time when the Spanish rider was in the pit stops with a low 1:55 minute lap. But Navarro returned to track to take the lead and in the end the session ended with him fastest with a time of 1:54.641. Antonelli was second fastest ahead of Romano Fenati (Sky Racing VR46) who was the only other rider who managed to so far lap below 1:55 minutes.
Moto3 Qualifying underway
Canet was the first one to lap below 1:55 minutes with just over 30 minutes remaining in the qualifying session as riders continued to become familiar with the new layout; many riders continued to be caught out by the new left handed corner of turn ten and the new chicane that bypassed the old turn 12.
Francesco Bagnaia (Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3) was forced to use the old turn ten and decided to go voluntarily go through the gravel trap so that he could return to the pits quicker, where he had to receive a push from one of his mechanics as his bike had broken down. Hiroki Ono (Honda Team Asia) and another rider were also forced to use ‘the old circuit’ as they struggled with the new modifications at turn 12.
Short break before things really heated up
After a break midway through the session the riders returned to the track, but before the track became too busy Navarro reclaimed pole position with a time of 1:54.691, he continued to improve his time even more. Khairul Pawi (Honda Team Asia) also set a strong lap to place him second however 15 minutes remained and the Moto3 riders were constantly improving on the busy track.
Brad Binder steals pole position
Current championship leader Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) claimed pole position in the final stages after an aggressive late charge with a time of 1:54.024. Due to the modifications no comparisons can be made to previous records as none have been recorded. A big push from the 250cc class in the late stages turned everything around and Antonelli claimed second on the grid whilst Navarro will complete the first row ahead of his home GP at the seventh round in Barcelona.
Rookie Bulega leads the second row ahead of Bastianini which saw Pawi forced down to sixth position. Bagnaia qualified seventh as the fastest Mahindra ahead of Jules Danilo (Ongetta-Rivacold) who lapped quicker than Canet in ninth for his home GP. Romano Fenati (Sky Racing VR46) will start from tenth ahead of Ono and Fabio Quartararo (Leopard Racing) in 12th. The fifth row consists of Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing Moto3), Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Andrea Migno (Sky Racing VR46), and the sixth is made up of Jakub Kornfeil (Drive M7 SIC Racing Team), wildcard Albert Arenas (MRW Mahindra Aspar Team) at his home GP and Joan Mir (Leopard Racing).
Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA Racing Team), Livio Loi (RW Racing GP BV) and Juanfran Guevara (RBA Racing Team) made up the seventh row and Jorge Martin (Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3), Andrea Locatelli (Leopard Racing) and Tatsuki Suzuki (CIP-Unicorn Starker) who crashed on his last lap of his session at turn nine (he was unhurt) make up the eighth row.
Adam Norrodin (Drive M7 SIC Racing Team) starts from 25th ahead of British rider John McPhee (Peugeot MC Saxoprint) as the fastest Peugeot in twenty-fourth and the only female in the class Maria Herrera (MH6 Team) completes this row. Wilcard Davide Pizzoli (Procercasa – 42 Motorsport) will start from 29th.