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Moto3 Brno: Antonelli leaves it late to snatch pole

Niccolo Antonelli took pole in the final moments of qualifying for the Moto3 Czech Republic Grand Prix at a hot and dry Brno.
Niccolo Antonelli secured just the second pole of his career with a superb last minute dash through the traffic securing the top spot on the grid for Honda ahead of round eleven of the Moto3 championship in Brno.

The Ongetta-Rivacold rider had been circulating speedily with a very hard suspension setting enabling some smooth cornering behind his team-mate Jules Danilo before a last lap dash behind last seasons race winner Alexis Masbou propelled him to the front of the grid for the first time since the final race of 2014 in Valencia.

The Italian will be looking to break the mould from the front with the last lightweight win from pole at Brno now ten years ago, when Tom Luthi went on to win the 125cc race in his title winning year.

The session was set alight in the final five minutes with all the riders returning to the track looking for late improvements.

Championship leader Danny Kent had held the lead leading into the chaos, but had no luck with the traffic, his Leopard Racing bike most notably held up by a slow Livio Loi, the winner in Indianapolis, leaving Kent just two thousandths behind Antonelli's best time of 2m 07.667 after knuckling down to improve to second despite his troubles on the final lap.

Disappointingly for the British rider he had gone fastest on the day as Antonelli failed to topple Kent's fastest time from the third practice session, demonstrating how much of a part the traffic on track played as the session ended.

Kent can take confidence from the distance on the grid between himself and his nearest rival in the title standings Enea Bastianini, with the Italian struggling in a disappointing 15th.

The final spot on the all Honda front row goes to Estrella Galicia 0,0's rookie rider Jorge Navarro also showing strong pace as he topped the timesheets at various points during the session, just beating his team-mate Fabio Quartararo into fourth.

He is joined on row two by Alexis Masbou who went up into fifth on his final circuit of the track for SaxoPrint-RTG, with Brad Binder the best placed KTM rider in sixth for the Red Bull Ajo team.

One place further back in seventh is Binder's team-mate Karel Hanika, benefiting from all of the team's riders circulating together. He is also the top Czech rider ahead of his home grand prix, with Jakub Kornfeil down in 20th on the grid.

Efren Vazquez failed to translate his practice pace into qualifying speed and was over half a second adrift of the lead time in eighth on the second Leopard entry.

Jorge Martin was again the top Mahindra rider in ninth for the Mapfre team with a late lunge pushing John McPhee into the top ten after being down in 25th before his final run for SaxoPrint-RTG.

McPhee was the best of the Indianapolis podium men with Oettl qualifying 24th and Loi down in 29th.

Danilo just missed out on a top ten finish to the session in eleventh, completing a solid session for the Ongetta-Rivacold team, with Miguel Oliveira surprisingly low on the timesheets in twelfth on the third of the Red Bull KTM Ajo machines.

Romano Fenati continues to find qualifying a struggle and takes up 19th spot on the grid for the Sky Racing VR46 Team.

The wild-card riders will form up at the rear of the grid for Sunday's race with Max Kappler adding to the Saxoprint-RTG team on a FTR Honda in 24th and Kevin Hanus (Team Hanusch) starting 36th.

A bike issue saw Alessandro Tonucci become the first rider to find himself off track, with Zulfahmi Khairuddin tipping the gravel out of his Drive M7 SIC just five minutes later. Niklas Ajo also fell as did Tatsuki Suzuki, who had only done enough for 21st position before heading to the medical centre with a suspected foot injury.
by Lisa Lewis

Tagged as: Moto3 , Antonelli

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