Niccolo Antonelli upstaged the Moto3 championship challengers by beating them to pole position for the Valencia Grand Prix. The Italian, who was quickest in free practice yesterday, pipped Jack Miller by seven hundredths of a second with series Alex Marquez qualifying third despite a crash.
The title rivals renewed hostilities right from the start of qualifying with Miller and Marquez trading pole position times. The pair were knocked off the top by Efren Vazquez ten minutes into the session but Marquez regained pole soon afterwards, aided by his teammate Alex Rins who spent much of his session providing a slipstream to his Estrella Galicia colleague.
The two Spaniards ran first and second halfway through but Emilio Alzamora’s nerves wouldn’t have been helped by the sight of Marquez picking his Honda up after a crash at turn two. To make matters worse, Alex was knocked off pole by, of all people, Jack Miller who clocked a 1:39.302 six minutes from time.
Marquez was unable to improve after his spill but his worst fears were eased with two minutes remaining as Antonelli snatched pole with a 1:39.183, denying Miller what would have been a vital pole position. Jack improved late on to consolidate second while Marquez will hope to keep a close eye on his progress tomorrow, starting alongside in third.
Isaac Vinales edged out Rins for fourth with Karel Hanika and Niklas Ajo qualifying sixth and seventh, leaving them well placed to assist their teammate Miller in tomorrow’s race, although Hanika will be riding injured after a heavy highside. John McPhee lines up eighth ahead of his teammate Efren Vazquez with Aspar’s Juanfran Guevara rounding out the top ten.