Running solo allowed Deniz Oncu to find his confidence and the best line around Portimao and claim a second career pole ahead of the Moto3 Portuguese Grand Prix, round five of the championship.

The challenging elevations of the Algarve International Circuit, which have lead to it’s nickname of ‘The Rollercoaster’ were accentuated by the damp, tricky conditions the riders have battled since Friday.

Red Bull KTM Tech 3’s Oncu had been struggling in the wet and was only sixteenth after combined practice. 

 

 


After coming through Q1 with the top time, the number 53 had enough track time in the wet to understand how best to attack, and had time under the sun as it came out to complicate matters further.

Balancing risk and reward the Turkish rider put everything on the line in Q2, entering a battle for pole with Mario Aji, Scott Ogden and Lorenzo Fellon the other main players.

A perfectly timed final lap of 2m 03.955s saw him take pole amongst all the falls which brought out yellow flags, cancelling many of his rivals best efforts. Oncu could have gone again - he sat up atfer setting his pole lap though he made it over the line just before the chequered flag came out for his first pole since his maiden time at the front of the grid at the Styrian race in 2021.

Rookie Aji had lead the way after FP3 thanks to his time in the second practice session, and immediately looked at home in the damp again, he regularly swapped top times with Oncu, but came off second best on his final run. The Honda Team Asia rider was just 0.017s behind for his best qualifying performance to date.

Fellon was also in the mix for pole for SIC58 Squarda Corse, but also fell just short. His third will see the French rider on the front row of the grid for the first time.

Carlos Tatay pulled himself up from tenth to fourth late in the session and held the position for CFMOTO Racing PreustelGP.

Tatsuki Suzuki made headway early on and topped the timesheets in the opening minutes of Q2, running behind Aji on his way to an eventual fourth for Leopard, the best of their riders in qualifying.

Sergio Garcia pushed so hard that he managed the impressive feat of crashing three times in the fifteen minute session, twice at turn five before a final off at turn fourteen prevented his rivals setting any late fast laps.

Despite the amount of time he spent wrestling his bike back away from the marshals in the gravel, the Valresa GasGas rider still managed to place sixth for Aspar.

Seventh on the grid will be filled by Riccardo Rossi for on the second SIC58 entry completing a strong day for the outfit, Just ahead of Scott Ogden in eighth.

Tricky conditions suit British duo.

Now back to familiar ground, Portimao was a chance for a lot of the rookies to shine. The weather also played it’s part as a great leveller, with both of Michael Lavetry’s VisionTrack riders performing well in weather more suited to Britain. Scott Ogden will rightly grab the headlines - backing up his strong showing in Austin by moving directly to Q2 in ninth, from where he built to qualify eighth, although he believed he had pace for pole and was in the battle to sit at the head of the grid he was unlucky with when the yellow flags came out in the session. It marks his best qualfying so far in his rookie year.

Joshua Whatley finally got a chance to show his quality as he battled the wet, moving his Honda to a respectable 24th by the end of practice, one of a handful of riders to improve in the soggy FP3 session. As the sun came out performance picked up and running with Xavi Artigas, the sixteen year old moved through to Q2 for the first time, despite being frustrated by having his best lap scuppered by the Spaniard.

A crash in the session ended the teenager’s chances, he had been competitive before his fall and was as high as seventh, but could only watch as his time slipped to eighteenth - still a best as he had not made it to Q2 previously.

The top ten on the grid will be completed by Izan Guevara on the second Aspar entry in ninth and Ayumu Sasaki who will fill tenth for Sterilgarda Husqvarna Max.

Andrea Migno was on pole in Austin, but could not match that performance now the paddock is back in Europe, he will sit next to the Japanese rider in eleventh for Rivacold Snipers, ahead of Dennis Foggia.

Damage Limitation for Dennis Foggia

After making no progress on Friday in the treacherous conditions, a desperate Foggia was out putting in the laps in FP3 in a bid to go straight to Q2. With very similar weather greeting the paddock on arrival at the Algarve circuit it was soon clear, despite his determination, that it would not be possible.

Though the championship leader did go quicker than on the opening day, he began qualifying with just the 18th best time under his belt, needing to go through Q1on the Leopard to have any hope of improving for race day.

Looking to have gotten to grips with the conditions, the Italian came through in second, but as the pace picked up, as did the amount of falls, Foggia could not make the progress needed to feature at the front of the grid - he starts twelfth.

Diogo Moreira used his off roading skills to help him in the wet, altering his style to suit the changing conditions, and held the second best time ahead of qualifying. Ougunned by Daniel Holgado despite a fall (Red Bull KTM Ajo) in 13th, the MT Helmets - MSI rider could only manage a time good enough for 14th when it mattered most.

COTA race winner Jaume Masia (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was even further off the lead pace as he struggled to 15th.

Taiyo Furusato was an early Q1 crasher, at turn two where water has formed a run across the track at the dip in the track. Also slipping out of contention in that session were Ivan Ortola, Kaito Toba, Elia Bartolini and David Salvador.

There were further spills in Q2 for Ryuesi Yamanaka and Stefano Nepa in Q2.

Adrian Fernandez misses the rest of the race weekend after his FP1 fall left him with two fractured fingers.

Alberto Surra is also absent after receiving a broken scaphoid in his collision with Riccardo Rossi at the last round. Syarifuddin Azman sits in and placed 20th. 

John McPhee continues his recovery and although  trackside is still not quite race ready. Salvador is in again at Sterilgarda Husqvarna Max, he starts form 21st.