Jorge Martin claimed pole position in the dying seconds of qualifying at the Circuit of the Americas after a late dash on slick tyres created a thrilling finale. The Spaniard saw a dry tyre gamble backfire last time out in Argentina but made the correct call on this occasion, enabling him to edge out championship leader Aron Canet.
Rain had started to fall during the morning’s MotoGP practice session and the circuit was still damp in places by the time Moto3 qualifying got underway under grey skies in Austin. The provisional pole spot swapped hands regularly as conditions improved but Philipp Oettl triggered a switch to slicks up and down the pitlane with fifteen minutes remaining.
The German was the first to make the change and promptly went six seconds faster than previous polesitter Martin. With that, everybody switched to dry tyres and Oettl’s supremacy was finally ended by Canet three minutes from time. The picture changed dramatically as the chequered flag flew with Enea Bastianini briefly grabbing pole for Leopard Racing, only to be usurped by Fabio Di Giannantonio and Canet in quick succession.
Ultimately, the final word would go to Martin who broke into the 2:18s bracket on his final lap to pull half a second clear of his compatriot while John McPhee ghosted up to third on the leading KTM. Tatsuki Suzuki pipped Di Giannantonio to fourth with Bastianini relegated to sixth while Dennis Foggia will line up a superb seventh for Sky VR46.
Ayumu Sasaki will start eighth ahead of Argentine winner Marco Bezzecchi while Spanish rookie Jaume Masia knocked the unfortunate Oettl all the way back to eleventh in the final reckoning.