Cortese Holds His Nerve To Take Pole At Misano

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Sandro Cortese looks well placed to extend his championship lead still further after taking a superb pole position at Misano while chief rival Maverick Vinales faltered. The unpredictability of the weather meant the Moto3 riders had no fully-dry running before qualifying but it was Cortese who adjusted the quickest, with the two big home favourites joining him on the front row.

Danny Kent didn’t make the greatest of starts with a crash on his first run but Alex Rins, one of the few riders to have lapped a Moto3 bike around Misano before this weekend, did start quickly with a 1:45.700. The Spaniard kept provisional pole into the final twenty minutes when Romano Fenati showed his hand, scrubbing half a second off the benchmark time.

As the track rubbered in, Zulfahmi Khairuddin and Luis Salom edged in front of Fenati but neither could break the 1m45 barrier. The first man to make that particular breakthrough wasn’t Cortese, or Fenati, but instead the second Team Italia FTR of Alessandro Tonucci grabbed provisional pole on a 1:44.909, capitalising on a tow from his teammate. The 19 year old, who’d never started a GP in the top ten before, was chasing a maiden pole but that dream was short-lived as Cortese followed him over the line a few seconds later with a 1:44.599.

Having offered a helping hand to his teammate, Fenati turned his attention back to pole position but could only get to within a tenth of Cortese. The factory KTM was getting faster and faster elsewhere on the circuit though and Sandro moved the goalposts once again with a 1:44.201, a time that was firmly out of reach.

Despite his best efforts, Fenati had to make do with second while Niccolo Antonelli put his circuit knowledge to good use, grabbing the final place on the front row. Danny Kent was bounced back to fourth after his early mishap with Luis Salom and Jonas Folger joining him on the second row. Tonucci dropped back to seventh ahead of Khairuddin and Miguel Oliveira with Arthur Sissis completing the top ten.

With so little dry running, Maverick Vinales seemed to be struggling for a sensible grid position, languishing at the bottom of the leaderboard for most of the 40 minutes. Late on, Vinales climbed up to sixteenth but still needed a miraculous final attempt to get near his title rival. The Spaniard was mired in traffic as he started the lap but personal bests in the third and fourth sectors were enough to drag him up to eleventh.

Early polesitter Alex Rins was shuffled back to seventeenth while Danny Webb finished the session 26th on the Mahindra, six places ahead of his exciting teammate Miroslav Popov.

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