Niccolo Antonelli was head and shoulders above his rivals as he took control of quaifying in the difficult damp conditions at World Circuit Marco Simoncelli and claimed pole ahead of the Moto3 Emilia Romagna grand prix, round sixteen of the championship.

The Avintia rider arrived at the circuit with a large amount of track time in tricky conditions at Misano under his belt as part of the VR46 Academy, which gave him the confidence to run quick in the drizzle.

After moving through Q1with the top time, the KTM rider used what he learnt about the track in the first qualifying session to continue to pick up the pace, finishing with a best lap of 1m 48.563s.

It is the home rider’s first pole of the season and his first time in the top slot of the grid since the Motegi round of 2019.

Filip Salac was the rider the first red flag came out for in the United States, but his Emilia Romagna grand prix has started far more positively. Although more than six tenths shy of Antonelli’s best, the Czech rider managed the drying track well to take second for CarXpert PruestelGP.

It is the number 12’s first front row start since qualifying at the Sachsenring.

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The KTM dominance of the front row of the grid was completed by Riccardo Rossi, who also benefited from learning the track in Q1 on his way to third for BOE Owlride.

Izan Guevara’s last lap pulled him up to fourth for Gaviota Aspar on GasGas machinery. The Spaniard was the top rookie just ahead of Pedro Acosta in fifth.

The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider returns to the Adriatic coast with his first ‘match point’ - the rookie can take the title at this round if he finishes the race 21 points ahead of the only one of his rivals who can still catch him - Dennis Foggia.

Third when he took the chequered flag, Acosta was shuffled back to fifth by riders finishing their final run after him, but he is still well placed to fulfil his world championship dream. Foggia did not look comfortable in qualifying and his tentative run saw him 14th despite encouragement from the pit wall by his Leopard team.

Back at the front of the grid Jaume Masia also found success after getting to grips with the track in the first half of qualifying, he went on to claim sixth just behind his team-mate.

Early session leader Alberto Surra had been near the top of the timesheets regularly in practice which he consolodated with a solid seventh for Rivacold Snipers. The Italian was the top Honda in qualifying.

Eighth on the grid went to Stefano Nepa on the second BOE Owlride entry. He was just faster than Xavier Artigas, the best of the Leopard riders in ninth.

Ayumu Suzuki completed the top ten despite a Q2 fall for Red Bull KTM Tech 3.

John McPhee sat out both Friday sessions with flu-like symptoms. The under the weather Brit went on to move up from Q1 with the third best time and then push on for twelfth in Q2.

He qualified above his MotoGP bound team-mate with Darryn Binder who was down in 16th on the second Petronas Sprinta entry.

McPhee’s late fast lap in Q1 saw the polesitter last time out at the World Circuit Marco Simoncelli track, Romano Fenati, pushed back to fifth in the session. That leaves the Italian looking to eradicate the memory of falling while leading in Misano from 19th on the grid.

Falls for Tatsuki Suzuki and Jeremy Alcoba saw them lose the chance to progress. The SIC58 Squadra Corse rider lines up 24th at an emotionally charged weekend for the team, while Gresini’s Alcoba will sit in 26th on the grid.

Mario Aji makes his championship debut this weekend with Honda Team Asia. A feature in the top ten in the wet on Friday, the Indonesian finished Q1 in eighth so will start 22nd on Sunday.

There are personnel changes at Red Bull KTM Tech 3, with Daniel Holgado replacing Deniz Oncu as he serves the first of this two race bans following his actions in America. Over at Gaviota GasGas Aspar, Sergio Garcia is still suffering from bruising to his kidneys following his fall at the last round. He is replaced by the Red Bull Rookies 2021 champion, David Alonso. 

Holgado was third in that championship behind Alonso, with the pair swapping fortunes in qualifying for Moto3. Alonso was 11th in Q1 for 25th of the grid, while his junior championship rival went straight to Q2 where he placed 18th.

Gresini’s Gabriel Rodrigo remains absent as he continues his recovery from injury.