Moto3 Catalan GP: Brad Binder secures second career pole.
Having had an extended Free Practice 3 session to adjust to the new layout of the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, riders in the Moto3™ World Championship began Qualifying on a 40°C track. It was a slower than usual start to the session as riders took the opportunity to focus more on race pace and learning the new corners, rather than pushing for a flying lap right away. Mid 1’54s were the target time on the new layout, Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) having topped FP3 with a 1’54.641.
But with five minutes to go all thoughts of the race were gone and new tyres were fitted for the charge to pole position. In classic Moto3™ style it was all about the last laps, Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) setting a 1’54.024s to take just the second pole position of his career. Not only is this the South African’s second pole but it is just his fourth ever front row start in the World Championship. It has been 11 races since a Moto3™ race was won from pole position, can Binder break the curse and become the first rider to take four straight wins in the series?
Having been inside the top two in all three previous sessions, it came as little surprise that Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) was again strong at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya. The Italian completed a 1’54.078 to grab second on the grid, his second front row start of the 2016 season. He’s out to get back on the podium for the first time since round one in Qatar.
Jorge Navarro will line up third on the grid for Sunday’s race, the highest placed Spaniard on the grid and in the championship. After crashing out of the race in Mugello he needs to beat Binder to keep his championship hopes alive. The Spanish rider is yet to take a victory in the World Championship, having had seven previous podiums.
The second row of the grid will be headed by Nicolo Bulega (SKY Racing Team VR46) who starts in fourth, the highest placed rookie. Just behind was fellow Italian Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3), 0.036s splitting the two riders. Bastianini has twice missed out on victory at the Catalan GP, taking second in 2014 and 2015.
Khairul Idham Pawi (Honda Team Asia), Francesco Bagnaia (Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3), Jules Danilo (Ongetta-Rivacold), Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Romano Fenati (SKY Racing Team VR46) completed the top ten.
The lightweight class will be the first out on track on Sunday with their Warm Up beginning at 08:40 Local Time before racing at 11:00 Local Time.