It was all change late on with a battle between the riders flying solo, with Jaume Masia snatching up pole in the closing seconds of qualifying for round eleven of the championship, the Moto3 San Marino Grand Prix.

The Leopard rider was top on Friday with only Deniz Oncu ahead of him in the third practice and while Moto3 featured a large helpful of riders hunting for a tow for extra tenths, the #5, on the bike which won the race in 2022, went it alone.

His move paid off, registering a late 1m 41.638s to return to the top of the timesheets and claim pole.

It is Masia’s third on the Honda this season and places him perfectly to continue to his late title run, chipping away at  his main rivals, who are  behind him on the grid.

Crash to front row for Sasaki.

A very early crash for Ayumu Sasaki saw him down at turn 13, slipping all the way to 14 on the kerb. That left the Liqui Moly Husquavrna rider out of sync and also making the most of his solo track time.

The Japanese rider worked into the session, setting a banker for eighth, losing out on placing higher when he found his teammate Collin Veijer on track. Pushing on, the #71 climbed to sixth, then to the top, only to be beaten by Masia seconds later, to finish just 0.243s slower.

A surprise front row came for fellow countryman Kaito Toba, his first time there for three years. A lap on his SIC58 Squadra Corse bike behind Joel Kelso saw him slipstream his way to third.

That pushed early leader Diogo Moreiera back to fourth for MT Helmets - MSI. Deniz Oncu, ready and full of fight following his penalty in Spain, also slipped back due to those late laps for fifth on the grid, despite arriving at Q2 with the best practice time for Red Bull KTM Ajo, remaining the best of their riders.

Catalan Race winner David Alonso will look to be in the mix again after working his way up to sixth for the Gaviota GasGas Team, once again the top rookie performer.

David Munoz made up for his Q1 fall to claim seventh for BOE Motorsports. 

Holgado in Q1 for second round in a row

Championship leader Daniel Holgado once again started the weekend on the backfoot with a trip through Q1 needed to move up the grid for Sunday.

Catalunya saw the Red Bull KTM  rider move on but only to eleventh. He went on to crash out of the Moto3 race in Montmelo.

There was hope that would be a one off given his performance in San Marino last year, second on the grid was converted to a fifth place finish.

Again ,after looking to be about on the pace on Friday, the Tech3 bike could not push on come P3 and Holgado finished that session in  17th , just over 0.6 seconds off the then best time but with a trip through Q1 required again.

In that session, he was the man to follow. His best lap allowed him to find the limit, with the front all but folded on his way to moving on with the top time.

In Q2, although times were close, he could not match the pace of the front row riders so will fill eighth spot.

Stats weigh heavy against him doing well in the Moto3 race - the last two times the Spaniard needed to come through Q1 to qualify, last weekend in Spain and back in Assen, he has gone on to crash out in the race.

Stefano Nepa (Angeluss MTA Team) and Veijer completed the top ten.

Barcelona’s pole man, Ivan Ortola did not match those heights and lines up 13th on the second Angeluss bike.

What happened in Q1?

Joining Holgado in Q2, SIC58 Squadra Corse’s Riccardo Rossi (17th) progressed with the second best time, while CFMoto’s  Joel Kelso (11th) left it late to move into third, with a solo effort from David Munoz (BOE Motorsports) on his own saw him claim the fourth spot. That was a comeback rider following a fall right at the start at La Quercia.

That pushed out Matteo Bertelle, who will start 19th as the best of the rest for Rivacold Snipers, with Xavier Artigas also close to moving on with times tight in the session. The CFMoto rider will instead start 20th.

It was all change at VisionTrack, with Joshua Whatley close to moving to Q2 in the third practice session -  a late lap that would have placed him ninth was cancelled for exceeding track limits.

In Q1 he was again the best placed rider for the team, not far off from moving on again with the seventh best time (21st) while Scott Ogden will start from 24th on the grid.

Injuries and replacements

The Moto3 paddock kicks off the weekend, for now at least,  with no injuries and replacements to report.