Catalunya Moto3: Teamwork helps Ortola claims first grand prix pole

Ivan Ortola shook off his fall earlier in the day to position himself perfectly to take pole during a late scrap in qualifying for the Moto3 Catalan Grand Prix.
Ivan Ortola, Moto3, Catalunya MotoGP, 2 September
Ivan Ortola, Moto3, Catalunya MotoGP, 2 September

Angeluss MTA’s Ortola had gotten off to a shaky start on Saturday with his fall late in P3 cancelling many fast laps for his rivals ahead of Catalunya qualifying for Moto3, at round eleven of the championship.

Positioned on track for the last flying lap run behind his teammate Stefano Nepa, the KTM riders chased down the Red Bull bikes ahead of them on track, with Ortola benefitting from the direct slipstream from Nepa to set a best of 1m 48.205s.

The session was slow with many riders looking for a tow, and lots of teamwork around the track. Ortola’s pole is the first he has claimed in grand prix racing.

Austria winner Deniz Oncu, was out on track with his Red Bull teammates, and was all action as has become the norm, surviving his bike locking up at T1 early in the session on his way to second, crossing the line in the same group as Ortola, and just 0.304s slower.


Joel Kelso had come thorugh Q1 and used his extra track time to weigh up his tactics and lines for the second session. The CFMOTO rider jumped from 13th to complete the front row on his final run as the chequered flag waved.

Jaume Masia was fastest after Friday’s action concluded, with his P1 time. Though Veijer arrived at qualifying with the top time, the Spaniard still showed strong pace and could have topped the timesheets in P3- his two best runs did not go to plan - first interrupted by traffic, then being one of many with a lap cancellation following the late crash for Ortola.

His first efforts in Q2 on the Leopard mirrored that, hands waving in frustration, so the team sent him out with Tatsuki Suzuki for his final effort. That brought him fourth, as the top Honda on the grid after leading the session before they exited the pits for their final run.

He is joined on row two by Matteo Bertelle who was fifth fastest for Rivacold Snipers and Suzuki who was sixth on the second Leopard.

Rookie Jose Antonio Rueda benefited from running behind Oncu to claim a seventh placed start on the second Red Bull KTM Ajo entry.

Nepa was eighth fastest on the second Angeluss bike as teamwork again paid off, with Kaito Toba, who circulated with the Red Bull bikes, ninth for SIC58 Squadra Corse and his teammate Riccardo Rossi completing the top ten.

Holgado goes the long way after landing in Q1.

Championship leader Daniel Holgado ended Friday a comfortable ninth but was all at sea in P3. As his time slipped into the danger zone he was not well placed to fight back. In a group choosing to leave pit lane late, his final run was one of those affected by the late yellow flags, leaving him 15th as Stefano Nepa leapt into the top 14.

First out in Q1, the Red Bull KTM Tech3 rider had David Munoz for company instantly, and despite hitting traffic, his early banker was strong as his rivals tripped each other over so move through with the top time.

The one person who didn’t seem to benefit froma team run in Q2 was Holgado, who was tenth at the start of his final run. Once again with riders lining up behind for a tow,but the rider in front too far away for him to do the same, he suffered, finishing eleventh.

A different line did nothing to help David Alonso, who was twelfth for Aspar.

Ayumu Sasaki was the best of the Liqui Moly Husqvarna IntactGP risers, down in 13th. The team rhythm was destroyed when Veijer fell early in the session, with the duo out of sync and off the pace. The Netherlands rider finished 18th - he lead and pulled away from the group (lead by Holgado) on his final run, unable to pull out of being followed with no time set.

What happened in Q1?

There was plenty of talent fighting it out for the progression places, with Holgado easing through.

His plan worked but the riders with him - Munoz, Lorenzo Salvador and Diogo Moreira all got caught up with the idea of being lead by each other, leading to the second group on track to snatch the progression places they provisionally held.

Instead, Joel Kelso moved through to the next session in second, with Taiyo Furusato (14th)and Scott Ogden (16th) also progressing. His VisionTrack teammate Joshua Whatley started the session in the top four, but lost out as the pace picked up so will slot into 28th on the grid.

Of those missing out Moreira will start the highest. He began his session sat in the pits waiting to time his run, but caught up in the usual Moto3 games with much coasting and sitting up around the track, for 19th.

Injuries and replacements

The Moto3 grid currently has no injured riders, but there are two wildcard entries for the Montmelo round.

David Almansa (25th) is back with Finetwork Intact GP, while Tachakorn Buasri (27th) returned with Honda Team Asia.

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