Alexis Masbou claimed his maiden Moto3 pole position at the 142nd attempt after playing his tactics to perfection in the closing stages of qualifying at Losail. The Frenchman managed to find a slipstream at the ideal moment to snatch pole from Isaac Vinales while the pre-session favourites all underperformed.
Miguel Oliveira and Danny Kent entered the crucial qualifying session as the men to beat having topped the three practice sessions between them and the Portuguese rider led at the halfway stage, clocking a 2:06.378. Unfortunately for Red Bull KTM Ajo, their new signing failed to improve in the time that remained and subsequently slipped down the leaderboard.
Niccolo Antonelli looked the rider most likely to depose Oliveira with the Italian three quarters of the way into a potential pole lap but as he pulled onto the start/finish straight, Masbou, the rider he replaced at Ongetta, locked his Saxoprint Honda into his slipstream and breezed past on the run to the line. Antonelli slotted in just behind Oliveira but Masbou leapfrogged the pair of them with a 2:06.170.
With a minute remaining, Antonelli embarked on another blistering lap, leading Masbou by almost half a second at the second checkpoint, but traffic in the final sector denied him a certain pole and left him a frustrated third. Isaac Vinales ghosted into second after some clever tactics of his own while Francesco Bagnaia used a slipstream to tow his Mahindra up to fourth.
John McPhee produced a last ditch flyer to take fifth ahead of leading rookie Fabio Quartararo and Andrea Locatelli while Oliveira and Kent were relegated to eighth and ninth, meaning they will share the third row tomorrow as opposed to the front as many had predicted. Efren Vazquez completes the top ten on the second Leopard Honda with just three tenths separating him from the polesitter.
Moto3 Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar: Qualifying Classification
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