Antonelli Snatches Qatar Moto3 Pole

Niccolo Antonelli - Photo Credit:

Niccolo Antonelli used a well-timed slipstream to claim pole position for the opening round of the 2018 Moto3 season in Qatar. The Italian denied Jorge Martin by one thousandth of a second to hand the SIC58 team a welcome morale boost after seeing Tatsuki Suzuki withdraw from the race weekend due to a broken arm.

Due to the revised schedule for 2018, Moto3 have spent most of their practice sessions in the daytime but qualifying began just as the sun was starting to set, leaving murky conditions for the riders in qualifying. Pre-season title favourite Aron Canet made the brightest start, clocking a 2:07.362 early on, but Martin would establish himself as the man to beat by breaking into the 2:06s, aided by a tow from his team-mate Fabio Di Giannantonio.

As has become the theme in Moto3 qualifying, a hush descended over the Losail circuit as the riders waited until the dying seconds to chase a fast time and, crucially, a slipstream. Antonelli was ultimately the man to find it, following Tony Arbolino down the start/finish straight to set a 2:06.364, while Martin saw a four tenth advantage over the Italian slip away as he circulated alone.

Gabriel Rodrigo was another rider to capitalise on a slipstream, climbing to third, while Japanese pair Ayumu Sasaki and Kaito Toba did likewise to secure career-best grid positions in fourth and fifth. Marco Bezzecchi backed up his impressive testing form in sixth, relegating Canet down to seventh, while Philipp Oettl, Lorenzo Dalla Porta and Enea Bastianini rounded out the top ten.


Moto3 Grand Prix of Qatar: Qualifying Result

PosRiderConstructorTeamBest Time
123. Niccolo AntonelliHondaSIC58 Squadra Corse2:06.364
288. Jorge MartinHondaDel Conca Gresini Moto32:06.365
319. Gabriel RodrigoKTMRBA BOE Skull Rider2:06.848
471. Ayumu SasakiHondaPetronas Sprinta Racing2:07.043
527. Kaito TobaHondaHonda Team Asia2:07.048
612. Marco BezzecchiKTMRedox PruestelGP2:07.058
744. Aron CanetHondaEstrella Galicia 0,02:07.059
865. Philipp OettlKTMSudmetal Schedl GP Racing2:07.187
948. Lorenzo Dalla PortaHondaLeopard Racing2:07.320
1033. Enea BastianiniHondaLeopard Racing2:07.324
1184. Jakub KornfeilKTMRedox PruestelGP2:07.326
1217. John McPheeKTMCIP - Green Power2:07.407
135. Jaume MasiaKTMBester Capital Dubai2:07.462
1416. Andrea MignoKTMAngel Nieto Team Moto32:07.586
1542. Marcos RamirezKTMBester Capital Dubai2:07.607
1621. Fabio Di GiannantonioHondaDel Conca Gresini Moto32:07.634
177. Adam NorrodinHondaPetronas Sprinta Racing2:07.758
1811. Livio LoiKTMReale Avintia Academy2:07.901
1922. Kazuki MasakiKTMRBA BOE Skull Rider2:08.108
2040. Darryn BinderKTMRed Bull KTM Ajo2:08.202
2172. Alonso LopezHondaEstrella Galicia 0,02:08.280
228. Nicolo BulegaKTMSky Racing Team VR462:08.364
2375. Albert ArenasKTMAngel Nieto Team Moto32:08.480
2476. Makar YurchenkoKTMCIP - Green Power2:08.547
2510. Dennis FoggiaKTMSky Racing Team VR462:08.785
2614. Tony ArbolinoHondaMarinelli Snipers Team2:08.795
2741. Nakarin AtiratphuvapatHondaHonda Team Asia2:08.936
NQ24. Tatsuki SuzukiHondaSIC58 Squadra CorseNo Time