2024 Portuguese Moto3: Final sector speed brings Rueda maiden pole

Jose Antonio Rueda clinched Moto3 pole position with a new lap record, leaving it late as one of the final riders to finish qualifying in Portimao.

Jose Antonio Rueda, Moto3, Portuguese MotoGP, 23 March
Jose Antonio Rueda, Moto3, Portuguese MotoGP, 23 March

Pole looked set to go the way of Joel Kelso, but Jose Antonio Rueda staked a late claim to the top spot on the grid in the final seconds of the Moto3 Portimao qualifying session ahead of the second round of the championship.

The new record lap of the Algarve track, a 1m 46.579s run, came as the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider arrived at the chequered flag, one of the final riders to do so.

Rueda had been in the mix at the top of the timesheets throughout the session and found huge gains in the final sector, especially in the final two corners to snatch a late pole, the first of his Moto3 career.

Joel Kelso arrived with the fastest time ahead of qualifying after topping P2 in the first session of the day for the class. 

The Australian brought that pace into qualifying, working with his BOE Motorsports teammate David Munoz throughout and was top until the final seconds, finishing 0.059s behind Rueda. The #66 had a final run thwarted as he was behind the late crash of Adrian Fernandez, which brought out the yellow flags.


                                                                                                                                        The Moto3 riders saw the worst of the wet and dirty conditions left by a downpour before Friday, with their first session eventually red flagged to allow the track to be dried without a flying lap set. Lusail’s race winner David Alonso dominated in the later session, however, the #80 also picked up an official warning for riding slowly.

That didn’t stop him putting in a strong  qualifying performance for Gaviota Aspar, with more teamwork on show from the CFMoto riders as he secured the final front row spot.

Red Bull GasGas Tech3’s Daniel Holgado was fourth - the same position he held on the grid in 2023 - where he went on to win the race.

Riccardo Rossi put in a late charge to climb for 16th to fifth on his final lap for CIP Green Power.

Colin Veijer will complete the second row for Husqvarna, with Qatar comeback king Ivan Ortola just behind on times in seventh for MT Helmets - MSI.

Filippo Farioli was the best of the Q1 graduates by far, latching onto and circulating with the BOE riders to continue his forward momentum to finish eighth for SIC58 Squadra Corse.

Scott Ogden moved up to seventh late in the session, but was shuffled back to ninth for the MLav Racing outfit. His teammate Joshua Whatley is down in 22nd.

Stefano Nepa completed the top ten in qualifying for LevelUp - MTA, just ahead of top rookie performer Joel Esteban, who learned a lot working with teammate Alonso on his way to eleventh.

Q1 - lack of flying final laps after slow riding

Ryusei Yamanaka (17th) dominated the session and was joined in moving on to Q2 by Nicola Carraro (16th), Farioli and Vincente Perez(18th).

Perez made sure to get around in time for one final hot lap, but was the only one of his group leaving the pits together to make it around before the chequered flag.

That gave him a clear run as his rivals dawdled around looking for position and a tow, which was enough to pull his KTM from eighth to fourth.

That pushed back Angel Piqueras, leaving the Leopard rider unable to answer. Fifth in the session will see the rookie line up 19th on Sunday.

Despite all his experience in the class, a decision to stay out and not pit did not pay off for Tatsuki Suzuki, who will be one place further back on the grid in 20th for Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP.

Luca Lunetta had a huge turn five highside, leaving his bike on track and no time set for the teenager. Fellow rookie Noah Dettwiler also failed to get a time under his belt, leaving the duo at the back of the grid.

Injuries and Replacements

David Almansa is still recovering from the injury to his hand he picked up in practice in the opening round in Qatar. He sees Hamad Al Sahouti (24th) fill in for him this weekend at the Snipers team.

Xabi Zurutuza is due to start his Moto3 journey in Texas after his birthday, so Perez returns to cover at Red Bull KTM Ajo once more in Portimao.

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