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Moto3 COTA, Texas: Kent takes charge with pole and new lap record

Danny Kent stormed to pole position in Saturday's qualifying session for the Moto3 Grand Prix of the Americas in Austin, Texas, obliterating the lap record in the process
Leopard Racing rider Danny Kent built on his Qatar podium finish by obliterating the opposition, storming to his first pole of the season at The Circuit of the Americas and smashing the lap record in the process.

Kent had already broken the original record, held by Jack Miller, in FP3 and sliced more time off with almost every lap aboard his Honda, finishing with a best of 2m 15.344 – just under a second better than the previous record set in 2014.

The British rider rode solo and remained unchallenged for pole with Miguel Oliveira the only other rider to dip under the 2m 16s benchmark for second on the grid, though the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider was still 0.485 off Kent's pace. Oliveira was also the only non-Honda rider inside the top six.

Andrea Locatelli rode consistently to keep near the top of the timesheets and secure the final front row slot for Gresini, just seeing off fellow countryman Niccolo Antonelli, who starts from fourth on the grid for Ongetta Rivacold.

Jorge Navarro won the rookie battle for fifth, just keeping at bay his Estrella Galicia 0,0 team-mate Fabio Quartararo, who finished the session sixth.

Row three will consist of Isaac Vinales, who lines up his Husqvarna in seventh, Enea Bastianini - who impressed in Qatar when he powered through the field to second - in eighth for Gresini and Francesco Bagnaia (Mapfre Team Mahindra) in ninth.

Qatar pole man and race winner Alexis Masbou (Saxoprint RTG) completes the top ten.

John McPhee held his composure to seal 15th place after frantic repairs helped him return to the action following an incident after five minutes, when McPhee – who briefly checked behind him – was unaware that Livio Loi was cutting across the track ahead and the pair collided.

The Briton has endured a tough weekend thus far, finishing Friday down in 23rd and getting clipped by a paddock scooter.

Hiroki Ono's fall caused the session to be red-flagged though the Japanese rookie eventually walked away from his accident unaided and qualified 17th on his return.

Romano Fenati's bike didn't make it to the end of the session, the frustrated Italian was pictured pushing it back to the pits, seemingly undamaged, and starts 19th.

Niklas Ajo found himself the loser on a very busy piece of track, sent flying from his RBA Racing bike after contact with Efren Vazquez. The Finn starts 21st.

Stefano Manzi makes his first appearance in Grand Prix racing after turning 16 and placed 25th, just behind his team-mate Ferrari on his first ever world championship qualifying session for San Carlo Team Italia.

Ana Carrasco returns after missing Qatar after injuring her collarbone, and starts 33rd for RBA Racing.

The Moto3 race will crown a new winner at Austin with no rider currently in the class having previously won at the Texas track.
by Lisa Lewis

Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
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