Moto3 Qualifying: Winners and losers

Thrills, spills and a two-hour hiatus, Moto3 has had it all so far and that’s only been free practice and qualifying but who has had a shocker and who is flying high?

 

Winners:

Ayumu Sasaki: The Japanese rider may not have had the most breathtaking free practice sessions but he certainly came along leaps and bounds in qualifying. Sasaki was eighth fastest at the end of Friday, a fairly reasonable end to the day for the Petronas Sprinta rider but he wasn’t able to keep the pace into Saturday’s FP3 session as he finished 16th. It would have been easy to write him off after that and expect him to land within the mid-pack for Sunday’s start but the Japanese rider wasn’t going to settle for that, fighting back in qualifying to steal third-position away from Jakub Kornfeil, his second third-place qualifying position of the year. Hopefully, Sasaki will be able to turn his qualifying position into a podium.

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Photo Credit: MotoGP Content Pool

Darryn Binder: Binder and the Red Bull KTM Ajo have definitely found the perfect set up for the South African as he stormed into second-position. Binder continued to learn and improve throughout the weekend, from 14th in FP1 to third in FP3 before taking his maiden Moto3 front row start in second. His third-place finish in Japan may have been the confidence boost he truly needed and we’re positive that no-one can begrudge Binder of his moment in the sun.

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Photo Credit: MotoGP Content Pool

Jorge Martin: It may not come as a shock to anyone that Martin, qualifying’s magic man, has taken yet another pole but this pole is exactly what Martin needed after his shocker last weekend. The Spaniard has been quick all weekend, taking second fastest at the end of Friday as well as in FP3 but Martin knew he needed to put as much space between himself and championship rival Marco Bezzecchi and that is exactly what he managed to do. A 10th pole of the season and yet another Tissot watch for the collection will certainly put the Spaniard’s mind at ease.

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Losers:

Marco Bezzecchi: Unlike his championship rival, Bezzecchi had a horror of a weekend so far. Three crashes in free practice as well as an unfortunate tangle with a seagull in FP2, the Italian settled for fourth fastest on Friday and third in FP3 before an awful qualifying saw him only manage 15th. This is a nightmare situation for Bezzecchi with rival Martin starting 14-places ahead of him and only one point separating the two, he will be praying for a miracle come Sunday morning.

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Photo Credit: MotoGP Content Pool

Stefano Nepa: Friday could not have been any worse for Nepa after causing a two-hour red flag at the very start of FP1 when his CIP Green Power machine spewed oil from the pitlane all the way to turn eight. The Spaniard was oblivious to the issues with his bike, continuing to run on the racing line until turn eight before sidelining his bike. Nepa was subsequently forced to sit out of FP2 due to irresponsible riding after the incident. His weekend didn’t improve from there as he only managed 24th overall in FP3 and ended Saturday’s qualifying session in a disappointing 25th.

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Photo Credit: MotoGP Content Pool

Kazuki Masaki: Masaki’s weekend was one to forget from the very beginning. The Japanese rider was 19th fastest at the end of Friday but failed to get anywhere close to that position on Saturday morning as he ended FP3 in 28th. The unfortunate FP3 performance ended up being the least of Masaki’s troubles as a tumble during qualifying saw the RBA BOE Skull rider ruled ‘unfit to race’ after fracturing his fifth metacarpal on his left hand, sidelining him for the Australian GP and possibly the Malaysian GP as well. We wish Masaki a speedy recovery and hope to see him back in his yellow leathers very soon.

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Photo Credit: MotoGP Content Pool

Full results here.

There is everything to play for and everything to lose for the championship rivals but can Martin run away with it or will Bezzecchi pull out all the stops to keep his hopes alive?

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