Izan Guevara left it late to claim pole position for the Moto3 Valencia Grand Prix, the final round of the championship.

The new champion made his final run count, just off of the group who left the pits first for their final run to clock a 1m 38.479s lap, the best of the weekend.

The Valresa GasGas rider, who has special gold accented leathers for the race to celebrate his season triumph, has sat in pole three times previously this season - they all lead to a race win for the Spaniard.

The #28 is joined on the front row by Deniz Oncu and Sergio Garcia.

The Red Bull Tech3 rider was sideways and almost out of his seat as he strived to get the most out of his KTM. Following Dennis Foggia and Riccardo Rossi out of the pits, the Turkish rider slotted in behind on track and chased them around the Riccardo Tormo track to finish just 0.046s behind the pole time.

Garcia had a different plan to gain an advantage. Instead of going for a slipstream he put himself out on track on a different schedule and that paid off, briefly topping the timesheets before being bettered by Oncu and team-mate Guevara.

Diogo Moreira was the best of the rookies in fourth, taking the flag on the MT Helmets - MSI bike just behind Oncu.

The Brazilian rider has a long lap penalty to serve in the race for crashing into the gravel at the same corner as David Munoz in practice, with yellow flags already waving for the first fall.

He is joined on row two by Ayumu Sasaki and Ivan Ortola.

Sasaki came through Q1 with the top time and then immediately put himself under pressure with an early fall at turn fourteen, his third crash of the weekend.

Bike repaired and gravel tipped out, the Sterilgarda Husqvarna Max rider made his last run count, also choosing to circulate solo to climb to fifth.

Ortola also made late progress to climb from eighth to sixth as the chequered flag waved for the Angeluss MTA Team.

Leading the chain of bikes around as the only rider brave enough to leave the pits first saw Foggia place the Leopard in seventh on the grid, ahead of his team-mate Tatsuki Suzuki, the early session leader.

Ryusei Yamanaka arrived with the fastest time after free practice but could not translate that into qualifying pace, leaving him ninth for MT Helmets - MSI.

His team-mate Sasaki leaping up the timesheets late on saw John McPhee, race winner in Malaysia from 22nd on the grid, pushed back to tenth.

Jaume Masia came through Q1 to place eleventh but his progress was in vain as his incoming penalty was announced between Q1 and Q2.


Fists thrown in FP3


The big talking point ahead of qualifying was the altercation between Kaito Toba and Jaume Masia after FP3.

The Spaniard had tried to dive underneath Toba in a move usually reserved for racing and the Japansese rider could not give way, leading to the pair landing in the gravel.

Masia then landed a sarcastic clap in Toba’s direction but the CIP rider didn’t agree with his take on events and tensions boiled over into a scrap. Toba made first contact with a slap to the helmet but Masia responded angrily and with force. 

When John McPhee and Jeremy Alcoba swapped blows in 2021 the pair were both handed pit lane starts, a time penalty and a 1000 euro fine. That precedent lead to a pit lane start and a long lap penalty and the same fine for both.


Riccardo Rossi was twelfth in behind Foggia for SIC 58 Squadra Corse. Munoz came through Q1 for 14th for BOE Motorsports.

Niccolo Carraro made it through the first qualifying session for the first time. The QJMotor Avintia rider went on to claim 18th.

What happened in Q1?


Q1 was frustrating to watch with most riders touring and looking for a tow but loaded with talent with the blustery Friday conditions playing their part in who made it straight to the second session. Sasaki, Masia, Munoz and Carraro made it through, but that left several Q2 regulars unable to progress.

That left Joel Kelso as the first rider to miss out in 19th on the grid after finishing Q1 in fifth for CIP Green Power.

There was also no place for race winner Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers) who starts 24th. Kaito Toba earned 25th before his penalty was announced.

Adrian Fernandez will fill 26th after a fall. Filippo Farioli was the only other rider to crash in the session.

Announced as both staying at the team next season, Scott Ogden was the best of the VisionTrack riders, in 13th in Q1.


Injuries, absentees and wildcards


Stefano Nepa recovers from his broken ankle. He is replaced by David Salvador (13th) at Angeluss MTA Team.

Filippo Farioli (20th) has a wildcard with the Gas Gas Aspar team who he joins in 2023 for a full debut season. The ride is a reward for his third place in the Junior GP season for the outfit. 

Also making a wildcard appearance is David Almansa (22nd) with Finetwork Team BOE Motorsports. The Spanish rider, also a Junior GP rider this season, was a race winner at the Riccardo Tormo Circuit just last weekend. In his garage for the race is renowned engineer and crew chief Ramon Forcada, who has worked with many MotoGP riders, from Alex Criville through to Andrea Dovizioso in his career.