Indian Moto3: Masia takes advantage with pole as Holgado demoted in Q1

Jaume Masia handled everything thrown at him, mastering the new track, heat and rain for pole in qualifying for the Moto3 Indian Grand Prix as Daniel Holgado remained stuck in Q1.
Jaume Masia, Moto3, Indian MotoGP 23 September
Jaume Masia, Moto3, Indian MotoGP 23 September


After a huge rain delay, the Moto3 Q2 riders got of to a tentative start in India as they took to the damp track in qualifying for round thirteen of the championship, the first class to qualify at the Buddh International Circuit.

Fighting the heat as well as each other - the race distance tomorrow has already been reduced due to the humidity - the deluge added to their learning curve - and it was Jaume Masia who came out on top.

Masia had a relativley easy run compared to the rest of the title rivals in the run up to qualifying, though not crash-free. The Leopard rider was instantly in tune with the Buddh circuit, topping P1 and in P2 was the only other rider behind Collin Veijer to set a sub two minute lap.

His natural ability at the track allowed him to gain confidence in the grip quickly and after pulling another tear off from his visor, he was instantly in the mix to lead the way.

Still in front as the chequered flag waved after passing Riccardo Rossi on track, the #5 collected pole for the second race in a row, handing him a big opportunity to cut into Daniel Holgado’s title lead.

Due to the rain the lap time wasn’t particularly quick, 2m 09.336s was around ten seconds slower than the best in the dry Q1 session.

It was a surprise second for Matteo Bertelle, equalling the best grid start of his Moto3 career. Comfortable in the group on track and clear enough of spray, the Rivacold Snipers rider was a feature at the top, rivalling Masia for provisonal pole. Masia only pulled away on his last run, leaving the Italian 0.727s behind.

Ayumu Sasaki will join the Honda duo on the front row.

Sasaki began his Saturday with his bike aflame - a crash that looked fairly innocuous in P3 at turn three saw his bike spurting flames as it finally came to a halt. The Husqvarna rider was allowed to ride it back to the pits once extinguished by the marshals, and then ensured he made it straight to Q2 by shadowing his teammate collin Veijer.

Always in touch, it wasn’t until his last lap that Sasaki guaranteed third with a personal best, with times between himself, Bertelle ahead and Scott Ogden behind incredibly close.

The VisionTrack rider, who had come through Q1, also improved on his last run, but was just behind the Japanese rider after shadowing Masia on track.

Kaito Toba built on a successful San Marino result with fifth for SIC58 Squadra Corse, with row two completed by Diogo Moreira, who arrived with the top time in practice for MT-Helmets MSI and finished at the best placed KTM.

Stefano Nepa chipped away to move into seventh for the Angeluss MTA Team, with Taiyo Furusato only just slower in eighth for Honda Team Asia.

Veijer had looked to be the man to beat in the dry, but was less assured in the wet, scoring the ninth best time on the second Liqui Moly Intact GP Husqvarna.

David Salvador did enough to secure a top ten start for CIP Green Power.

Oncu eleventh , but with black flag penalty pending

Deniz Oncu found himself in Q1 after looking worse for wear following a fall by the pit entry in P3. After entering the pits holding his arm to his chest he swiftly returned to track to climb into the top 14. That lap was not allowed to stand - the Turkish rider was shown the black flag for not attending the medical centre after his off, demoting him to 18th in the session.

Having still not attended for a medical check, Oncu was awarded a long lap penalty and back of the grid start before the session had seen a wheel turned.

Moving through Q1 with a new lap record,  a 1m 59.070s, which will stand after the downpour, the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider moved into Q2 as his team boss, Aki Ajo put his case to the race stewards.

Long solo runs were the order of the day once in the session, leaving Oncu eleventh, so if and when his penalty is applied the rest of the finishers will move a place forward.

Ivan Ortola was careful in the wet on his way to 13th on the second Angeluss bike, while form rider, rookie David Alonso, who has taken wins in three of the last four races, was 18th and over five seconds from the pole time in the tricky conditions for Gaviota GasGas Aspar.

Late lap cancellation sees Holgado down in 19th.

Championship leader Daniel Holgado once again found himself needing an extra push up the grid, in Q1 for the third consecutive round as his season continues to hit trouble. This time a massive highside at the end of P3 let him unable to respond, dropping him out of the top 14.

The Red Bull KTM Tech3 rider soon set about improving and was sat inside the top four to move on in Q1 as the chequered flag waved, though much slower than session leader Oncu. 

The Spaniard then saw his momentum take another knock back - he was shown on screen to have exceeded track limits and his best effort was cancelled. That left his next best lap to place him on the timesheets, and that was only good enough for fifth - leaving him to fight through from 19th on the grid.

What else happened in Q1?

As the session ended the thunder and lightning almost immediately arrived, leading to a delay to Q2.

Before that, Oncu set the best time, so went through the motions and progressed. 

He was joined by initially joined by Holgado, who was eight tenths slower, along with Aspar’s Ryusei Yamanaka (12th after a fall in Q2) and Ogden, slipping into fourth as the last rider to take the flag for VisionTrack. His teammate Joshua Whatley  was eighth in the session.

That meant Toba thought he had just missed out, shuffled back to fifth, but the late change with Holgado’s demotion saw him in Q2 for SIC Squadra Corse. 

Xavier Artigas also failed to make it through, he finished the session ninth for 22nd on the grid for BOE Motorsports.

Tatsuki Suzuki had his only flying lap cancelled so would have qualified last for Leopard, if not for pending penalties.

Injuries and Replacements

There were many crashes before Moto3 hit the track for qualifying - Romano Fenati’s took him out of action with a foot fracture.

Two wildcards started the weekend, both for Petronas MIE/MLav Racing. Daniel Shahril will line up 26th but home rider Kadal Yaseen Ahamed failed to set a time within the 105% limit by the end of practice so was not allowed to continue.

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