Alex Rins went some way to putting the nightmare of Brno behind him by claiming pole position for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone. The 2013 title runner-up was guilty of celebrating victory a lap short of the chequered flag in the Czech Republic but passed his first test of character by beating Niccolo Antonelli and teammate Alex Marquez to pole.
GO&FUN Gresini’s Antonelli was the early pacesetter, setting the fastest lap of the entire weekend straight out of the blocks but his stint at the top of the leaderboard was ended by Moto3’s newest race winner, Alexis Masbou. The Frenchman was soon shifted though as the Estrella Galicia teammates began to dominate, Rins and Marquez beginning a private duel over pole position.
Marquez struck the first blow with a 2:13.844, putting him 0.011s ahead of Masbou but Rins put a quarter of a second into both of his rivals, sending him to the top at the halfway stage. The elder of the two Spaniards held firm until five minutes from time when his younger compatriot struck back but Rins would eventually have the final word, clocking the fastest ever lap of Silverstone on Moto3 machinery seconds later to secure his third pole position of the season.
With three tenths to make up, Marquez had no answer to his teammate, nor could he respond when Antonelli bounced back up to second. As a result Marquez, who lies second in the championship standings, will line up on the outside of the front row with Enea Bastianini heading the second row on the second GO&FUN Gresini KTM.
Brad Binder continued his and Mahindra’s impressive recent form with fifth ahead of Alexis Masbou and the factory squad’s lead rider Miguel Oliveira while championship leader Jack Miller endured a tough afternoon, failing to make the kind of jumps in performance that his rivals had and slipping to eighth, just in front of Isaac Vinales and Niklas Ajo.
Miller could at least take some consolation from the fact that his two other championship rivals were struggling. Efren Vazquez, a rider many expected to figure prominently on Silverstone’s long straights, was only fifteenth while Romano Fenati spent a large chunk of the session in the garage with apparent mechanical problems. The Sky Racing VR46 KTM did re-emerge for two timed laps at the end but they could only lift him up to 22nd.