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Valencia Moto3: Antonelli pole, title rivals fill front row

Niccolo Antonelli snatched first pole position in Saturday's Moto3 qualifying session for the Valencia Grand Prix, title battle set-up perfectly with Jack Miller and Alex Marquez completing front row
Niccolo Antonelli put a crash mid-way through the Valencia Moto3 qualifying session behind him to take his first ever pole with a new lap record of 1m 39.183.

The Italian Junior Go&Fun Gresini rider pushed past the old lap record set by Alex Rins last year, describing his maiden pole as an 'incredible' new experience.

Behind him the race for the championship is perfectly poised with fellow KTM rider Jack Miller in second and title leader Alex Marquez in third.

Miller was the first to go under the lap record and finished just 0.068 shy of Antonelli's best time. The Red Bull rider spent much of his time helping around his fellow Ajo and KTM riders, with the bikes of the Austrian manufacturer peppering the top ten.

A nervous Marquez completes an exciting front row line up, well placed to convert his advantage to a championship win.

The Estrella Galicia rider had a tougher time, his lap from his seventh circuit of the Cheste track remaining his best after a crash with seventeen minutes to go at turn two rattling the Spanish star.

He received little help from his Honda team-mate Alex Rins who was much happier when circulating solo, he starts fifth on the grid.

Ahead of Rins in fourth is another KTM, Team Calvo's Isaac Vinales who found pace late to move up the order.

Miller's Red Bull team-mate Karel Hanika had an improved session before a late crash in sixth, ahead of fellow Ajo rider Niklas Ajo on his 'badged' KTM Husqvarna bike in seventh.

John McPhee found success in the tow and solo on his way to eighth, one place ahead of his SaxoPrint-RTG Honda team-mate Efren Vazquez in ninth.

Aspar's Juanfran Guevara continued his strong qualifying in the second half of the season and though not quite up there with his front row performances, a promise of a try of the MotoGP bike in testing saw him make significant progress to finish tenth.

The Spaniards finish meant Danny Kent just missed out on a top ten start after a difficult start to the weekend. The Briton starts from eleventh on the grid.

Romano Fenati still found time to wave to the crowd after placing 14th for Sky Racing Team VR46.

Joining Marquez and Pole sitter Antonelli on the crash list was Enea Bastianini, who fell moments after his Go & Fun team-mate.

A late crash involving Albert Arenas; riding for Team Calvo this weekend; and wild-card Maria Herrera ended with the Estrella Galicia girl being stretchered away.

Karel Hanika was checked over trackside and the last to fall.
by Lisa Lewis

Tagged as: Moto3 , Antonelli

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