A light cloud cover enveloped the Red Bull Ring as the lightweight class was raring to go for the qualifying session and things didn’t really get spicy until the final flying lap to decide pole. After the usual mix of slipstreaming and slow riding, Romano Fenati came out of literally nowhere (and/or from Q1) to snatch his first pole position in almost two years by five hundredths of a second. The Italian capped an excellent day for his VNE Snipers squad, which scored the Tissot box after his teammate grabbed a new lap record around Spielberg.
Behind the emotional poleman, things were getting a bit tricky to compute. Ayumu Sasaki qualified an impressive second place but had already received a 12-place grid penalty for irresponsible riding in FP2, therefore leaving Jaume Masia to take his place on the grid. The Spaniard showed excellent speed throughout the weekend but a cancelled lap time at the wrong time sent him on a successful trip through Q1 before setting camp on the front row of the grid. John McPhee might not be at 100% after the scary race incident one week ago but the Scotsman lost no speed on his way to fourth and was further rewarded with a front row start following Sasaki’s penalty.
Rookie Ai Ogura would be next in line but the Japanese rider also has to serve a 12-place grid penalty, which brings Kaito Toba at the front of the second row. Tatsuki Suzuki seemed to suffer some technical niggles towards the end of the session and could not improve on his early session-topping time so he dropped back to the middle of the second row, helped by the penalties already mentioned. Tony Arbolino invariably looked like the fastest man in practice but will have to make do with starting the race sixth.
Lorenzo Dalla Porta will start his assault on the championship lead from the third row, ahead of Raul Fernandez and Celestino Vietti – the Italian’s session hindered by an early tumble at turn three. Following his penalty, Sasaki drops to the back of row four, behind Niccolo Antonelli and Marcos Ramirez. Aron Canet spent his Q2 session being particularly unhappy with his bike and when he did manage to post a time, it wasn’t any more impressive than row five. But if there was one man who was more unhappy than the championship leader, it was Darryn Binder, who will add a back of the grid start penalty to an already poor performance in qualifying.
UPDATE: The old "riding slowly in an irresponsible manner" penalty was out in force following the Moto3 qualifying session, with 16 riders getting either grid penalties or seeing their fastest times in Q2 cancelled, including poleman Fenati. As a result, John McPhee will be starting first, ahead of Fenati and Toba, with Arbolino, Vietti and Masia completing row two. Championship leader Aron Canet will start 13th, heading the fifth row of the grid.
|9||48||Lorenzo DALLA PORTA||Honda||1'36.890||0.430||0.099|