Webb Gives Mahindra Shock Pole At Valencia

Danny Webb - Photo Credit: Mahindra
Danny Webb - Photo Credit: Mahindra


Danny Webb secured his and Mahindra's maiden pole position in Grand Prix racing after an inspired tyre choice in qualifying for the Valencian Grand Prix, the final ever 125cc GP. Rain prior to qualifying turned the session into a lottery, and the Briton hit the jackpot after gambling with slick tyres in the dying seconds.

The uncertainty handed opportunities to a number of unfamiliar riders and Louis Rossi set the early pace before being usurped Australian teenager Jack Miller. Title hopeful Johann Zarco then moved to the front but Miller was thriving on the damp racetrack and lowered the target time to a 1:54.331, five seconds under Sandro Cortese's time in the wet FP2 session.

Miller subsequently pitted, allowing Jonas Folger to take over at the top but Zarco, aware of the importance of starting at the front, regained provisional pole with a 1:51.142. Championship leader Nicolas Terol was languishing back in 23rd with ten minutes remaining so it was left to Hector Faubel to fly the flag for Bankia Aspar.

The 28 year old produced a succession of blistering laps to take pole on a 1:48.941, showing there was plenty of life in his wet tyres but at the other end of the pitlane, French rider Alexis Masbou was attracting a lot of attention.

The KTM rider was the first to venture out on slicks and shot up the order from 24th to third, alerting the rest of the field that dry tyres were the dream ticket. Webb had clearly noticed and took provisional pole on his first slick-shod attempt (1:48. 567), only to be beaten by the similarly brave Louis Rossi (1:48.112).

Webb dropped into the 1:46s on his next lap with Rossi unable to do better than a 1:47.816 and the British rider, a stalwart of the 125cc class, prompted joyous scenes in the Mahindra garage with a 1:45.898 on his last attempt, ensuring he will go down in history as the final polesitter in the two-stroke category, with Rossi second.

With so much at stake, Terol and Zarco played it safe on wets with Terol salvaging sixth on his final lap. Zarco rescued third late on to push Masbou off the front row with Luis Salom also demoting the KTM with his last gasp effort dragging him up to fourth.

Faubel's wet-tyre run kept him in the top six but late improvements from Sandro Cortese and Maverick Vinales pushed Aspar team leader Terol down to ninth, six places behind his title rival, with Jonas Folger tenth.

The impressive Jack Miller ended up in 12th but British teenager Danny Kent couldn't find as much pace and will start down in 18th. Scottish pair John McPhee and Taylor Mackenzie are together in 25th and 26th while Harry Stafford missed out on the 107% cut-off in 29th. However, with such changeable weather conditions, the race directors will certainly allow him to start.