Jonas Folger secured the final pole position of the Moto3 season with his final lap of qualifying at the Ricardo Tormo circuit, delighting the Valencia-based Aspar team. This time last year, Aspar were clinching the 125cc title with Nicolas Terol but their debut Moto3 campaign has been a testing experience, until the signing of Folger mid-season. The German edged out Miguel Oliveira for pole with Luis Salom rounding out the front row.
None of the three practice sessions prior to qualifying saw a fully dry track so John McPhee’s fastest time of the weekend was wiped out immediately. Maverick Vinales was the man to do so, clocking a 1:41.855, before going on to improve on his next lap, pulling out a third of a second over the rest of the field. With ten minutes completed, Folger was the nearest challenger while Romano Fenati had dropped his bike in the gravel trap in his attempts to get close.
Vinales led for the best part of half an hour but for whatever reason, he spent the closing stages of the session in the pits and was powerless to prevent others from beating him. Luis Salom, Vinales’ rival for runner-up in the championship, was the first to do so on a 1:41.441 but Maverick still held onto to second with a couple of minutes remaining.
Sandro Cortese, having languished outside the top ten earlier on, jumped up to second with his final lap of the session although the world champion did have a two-tenth advantage three quarters of the way around the lap. The German lost time when he encountered Zulfahmi Khairuddin in the final couple of corners and came up short by 0.065s.
There was still time for changes at the top of the leaderboard and Folger and Oliveira were the two lighting up the timing screens, towing each other round as they did so. Oliveira was the man benefitting from a slipstream but Folger’s 1:41.263 was fractionally too quick, keeping the Portuguese rider waiting for his maiden pole position.
With Salom third, Sandro Cortese finds himself back on the second row with Maverick Vinales and Efren Vazquez alongside. Danny Kent was pushed down to seventh by the late improvement of Oliveira and the Briton will have Niccolo Antonelli and Louis Rossi for company on row three. Kent still has hope of finishing fourth in the championship and with rivals Romano Fenati and Alex Rins eleventh and eighteenth respectively, it may still swing his way.
A dry track didn’t play into the hands of John McPhee who could only manage 29th while Danny Webb, polesitter on a 125 last season, couldn’t have imagined a bigger contrast twelve months on. He’ll start 34th with Mahindra teammate Miroslav Popov the only rider behind him.