2024 Qatar Moto3: Holgado smashes lap record for pole

Daniel Holgado claimed pole as the season opening race returned to Qatar shattering the Moto3 lap record in the process.

Daniel Holgado, Moto3, Qatar MotoGP, 8 March
Daniel Holgado, Moto3, Qatar MotoGP, 8 March

After 2023 saw the season start in Portugal it is a return to the floodlights of Qatar to get 2024 underway, with pole position going to  Red Bull GasGas Tech3 rider Daniel Holgado.

It had been Ivan Ortola who first lowered the lap record with a sudden sub 2m 03s lap, before the pits emptied as the sun set for the final runs for the pack.

It was Holgado who found himself in a position to gain a perfect slipstream at the start of his final lap as he chased down the riders ahead. His tidy pass on Angel Piqueras allowed him to move into an even stronger position and set the fastest lap of2m 02.276s with seconds being taken off the old record which stood heading into the Lusail round.

Much of the pace found can be attributed to the new, grippy Pirelli tyres. Making an instant mark on the championship, the lap record was first lowered in the P1 session on Friday several times before Holgado walked away with a then new best on day one on his way to pole, emulating his strong start to 2023 and matching 
the pole he claimed at the circuit towards the end of last season.

Ortola’s early lap was enough to hold onto second on the MT Helmets MSI entry, at just 0.265s slower.

P2 pacesetter, Jose Antonio Rueda, who arrived with the best time so far on Saturday with another then record lap on his Red Bull KTM had to settle for third, completing the front row.                                                                                                                                                          



Adrian Fernandez briefly lead the way before the flurry of last late laps registered, but fell to an eventual fourth for Leopard as the top Honda qualifier.

Matteo Bertelle was fifth for Rivacold Snipers,  just ahead of BOE Motorsports rider Joel Kelso in sixth, who completes the second row.

Riccardo Rossi left it late to hit the track, but made up for it, claiming seventh for the CIP Green Power team.

David Alonso was the form rider from pre-season testing, and the highest racer remaining from the 2023 standings after both Moto3 reigning champion Jaume Masia and Ayumu Sasaki moved up to Moto2.

He claimed a slightly disappointing eighth for CFMoto Aspa.r Vincente Perez on the Red Bull KTM Ajo and a late improving Collin Veijer (Liqui Moly Intact GP)completed the top ten.

Filippo Farioli was the best of the Q1 graduates in eleventh on the Level Up - MTA KTM.

Top rookie honours went to Piqueras despite being passed by Holgado, he rallied and followed to set the twelfth best time in his debut qualifying performance for Leopard.

Q1 - MLav riders fail to progress

Those who moved on from the Q1 made good progress early in the session, with those solid times allowing Farioli, Piqueras, Luca Lunetta 914th) and Taiyo Furusato (18th) another shot to move up the grid.

Despite all his experience, the veteran of the class, Tatsuki Suzuki just missed out as he stayed out on track, his constant circulating was only enough for fifth in Q1, so the Liqui Moly Husqvarna rider lines up 19th.

In a session filled with rookies, the MLav riders found it hard to progress.

Scott Ogden made extra work for himself after pulling out of a fast lap in traffic in the final practice session, confirming his place in Q1.

From there the #19 left it late to make progress, finding himself in a group of riders who only just made it out of the pits despite leaving before them. Ogden elected to push through and lead the train to the chequered flag, but it was not enough, earning him A 20th place start on Sunday.

With most riders injury free after the break, those who picked up issues in the off-season have opted to ride in Qatar.

Piqueras is one, having had a go karting incident, with Joshua Whatley also among the already walking wounded. the #70 picked up finger fractures and nail damage ahead of the opening round, and was the final rider cleared to participate, with his fitness test on Thursday. The MLav Racing rider had struggled with his injuries in the practice sessions and that continued into qualifying, leaving the British rider 21st.

Injuries and Replacements

David Almansa began the weekend but was declared unfit after his P1 crash left him with fractures to his let hand after it was trapped under his CIP Green Power bike. The Honda rider was still present in the garage, with his arm in a sling.

The other notable absence in the class is newcomer Xabi Zurutuza at Red Bull KTM Ajo.The Spaniard does not meet the minimum age limit for the opening round, so teenager will not make make his début until April. Perez fills in.

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