Thailand Moto3: Oncu leaves it late to claim pole position

Deniz Oncu timed his run to perfection to claim pole as yellow flags stole the final minutes of qualifying for the Thailand Moto3 Grand Prix.

Round seventeen saw Oncu collect his fourth pole of the season with a less than perfect lap of the Chang International Circuit in qualifying as late yellow flags cancelled further progress for the Moto3 class.

Race winner just a week ago, Oncu topped practice with a new lap record (1m 41.907s) in P3 after working with his teammate Jose Antonio Rueda, ensuring both slipstreamed to improvements and directly to Q2.

In qualifying those times were not available in the hotter, sunnier conditions. The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider went back to the pits after traffic and errors and returned once again with Rueda for company.

The pole lap came late - the Turkish rider still had no time set with just over three minutes of the session left. 

Running wide at turn three behind the rookie as his effort came to an end, Oncu somehow managed to find a huge amount of time in the final sector to come away with pole with a lap of 1m 42.001s

That run displaced Diogo Moreira, who had lead the way for much of the time. Moreira was back in action, despite his MT Helmets - MSI team stating he was unconscious at the last round and went on to race - where he withdrew as the Brazilian was too ill to continue. He was declared fit at the beginning of the weekend at the track.

Australia’s pole sitter Ayumu Sasaki kept himself ahead of his nearest title rivals as he moved to within a thousandth of Moreira’s then top time after working on track with his Liqui Moly IntactGP teammate Collin Veijer, with that time slipping to third to complete the front row.

His fellow countryman Ryusei Yamanaka had done enough for fourth for Gaviota GasGas Aspar before becoming the final faller, entering the gravel at turn twelve just as both Joel Kelso (14th) and Taiyo Furusato (6th) had been removed from the same corner.

Veijer made enough progress on his turn behind Sasaki for fifth and took top rookie honours.

Championship leader Jaume Masia was back on dominant form on Friday, but Saturday saw him mainly solo on his way to seventh for Leopard.

His teammate Adrian Fernandez was the best of the riders to come through Q1 for eighth, with Rueda ninth on the second Red Bull bike. David Munoz completed the top ten for BOE Motorsports.

Daniel Holgado had suffered a run of lacklustre results over the last few rounds and has made it hard work to keep his fading title hopes alive, qualifying eleventh for Red Bull KTM Tech3.

What happened in Q1?

Joel Kelso bit the bullet and lead the riders waiting for a tow around and still came out with the top time.

He was joined in progressing by David Munoz, Stefano Nepa and Adrian Fernandez.

Kelso bailed out to try and pick up his CFMoto teammate Xavier Artigas to help him through but a late yellow flag for one of the wildcard riders saw the final laps of the session cancelled. He finished the session fifth, for 19th on the grid.

For much of the fifteen minutes there were more riders in the pit than on track as most of the Q1 field waited for Kelso to make his move, that continued when he returned to the pits and pulled out of his laps and ran wide.

The opening minutes featured just three riders on track.

Kaito Toba, against character, began the weekend by sitting out P1 for ‘disrespectful behaviour’ when he was sent to be sanctioned at the last round. Starting on the back foot saw the Japanese rider sat in 29th after practice 3, in which he was the only rider to crash.

From there the SIC58 Squadra Corse rider was always going to be up against it to move on, finishing Q1 eighth Toba will line up 22nd.

Scott Ogden attempted a bounce back after a weekend to forget in Australia, where anything that could go wrong with his VisionTrack bike did.  This time his bike was back on track and able to complete enough laps to make qualifying, but needed a trip to Q1 as he was 19th in P3.  

One of just a handful of riders to attempt to circulate solo without a tow, his determination didn’t pay off qualifying 26th. Teammate Joshua Whatley starts ahead in 21st.

Nepa is the latest rider to suffer a strong of technical issues. The Angeluss MTA rider had hoped they had been fixed but could not push out of P3 into the automatic Q2 places. 17th in that session he went on to place 15th afrer moving into Q2.

Injuries and Replacements

Nicola Carraro (18th) returns to fill in again for Romano Fenati at Rivacold Snipers, while Vincente Perez (23rd) also returned to qualify in place of Ana Carrasco at BOE Motorsports.

There is added home interest to the Moto3 grid with a pair of Thai riders picking up wildcard rides.

Tatchakorn Buasri returns to the paddock with Honda Team Asia. He came close to making it directly onto Q2 with a time within a second of Oncu’s new best for 18th in P3 and went on to qualify 27th. Fellow countryman Krittapat ‘Idea’ Keankum rides for Yamaha Thailand Racing - BOE. He escaped starting last after Lorenzo Fellon failed to set a time.

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