Moto3 at the myWorld Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich provided some great entertainment with VNE Snipers rider Romano Fenati shooting straight to the top of the timing board with a 1:36.460 time.
It was his first pole position since Silverstone all the way back in 2017 however this was short-lived as sixteen riders, including Fenati, were punished for riding slowly in an irresponsible manner. The rules are in place to stop riders slowing down dangerously in order to catch a tow.
Darryn Binder started really trying to get the hammer down early on but was exceeding track limits and having laps cancelled for this reason. He had a few moments with the bike making shapes underneath the South African rider. Despite what lap time he was going to set, he was given a penalty earlier and was going to be starting from the back.
Early on the timing screens were absent of any times as a lot of the riders had their laps cancelled due to exceeding track limits. Can Oncu of Red Bull KTM Ajo was still showing the effects of the leg injury suffered at the last round. Times that were being set were relatively low in comparison to the laps that were being reached in free Practice.
Fenati looked like he was taking it all in and was sat in his pitbox, but decided to go out at the last minute and set a time that would see him sit comfortably in second place, which would guarantee him a shot at Q2.
Jaume Masia pitted due to frustration that some of the riders were following him and trying to catch a tow around the Austrian track, it is estimated that if a rider can slipstream down the 3 straights then a 0.5 to a whole second can be gained on a lap. As we saw in Free practice 3 where VNE Snipers rider Tony Arbolino went on to annihilate Joan Mir’s previous best-ever Moto3 lap by about half a second, the record has stood since 2016.
Masia then waited with the bike in the pits, trying to lose the riders that also followed Bester Capital Dubai rider into the pits. the two KTM Red Bull Ajo riders were told to leave the pits by their team as it was apparent that time was running out, their performance had been poor and their fourteenth and fifteenth in Q1 was clear evidence of this.
Masia proved his pace and ultimately the reason why the other riders were trying to get a tow. He set a lap that saw him through to Q2 along with second-placed Fenati, Andrea Migno in third and Alonso Lopez in fourth.
Aron Canet, who finished twenty-seventh in FP2, was never going to top the leaderboard and likely was on a damage limitation exercise after going out and then coming straight back into the pits with a problem with the bike, his animated body language exhibited his frustration.
Celestino Vietti, who had been having a strong weekend, crashed at Turn three that caused damage to his bike. However, he was able to get it back to the pits with ten minutes to go but due to the penalties to other riders, he was promoted to 6th.
Timings again were not as high as we had expected, with Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) and Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) setting very good times, which saw them at the top of the timings, but it was to be shortlived.
At the four-minute remaining mark, everyone except Championship leader Canet was in the pits. The Spanish rider was the sole rider on track. However, the rush had begun in the pit lane with riders leaving it very late to get out for a flying lap, that would be ultimately their one and only shot at a spot at the front of the grid.
The crowding meant that slipstream and a perfect lap with no mistakes would be their only chance, John McPhee who had an empty track ahead of him set a fast 1:36.690, with no slipstream. However, Fenati, Ayuma Sasaki and Masia topped the leader board in Hollywood fashion with the chequered flag out just as they started their flying lap.
The twist in the story – Sanctions for 16 riders
This was until the stewards decided that 16 riders were riding in a slow and irresponsible manner and were to be sanctioned which promoted McPhee to pole position. The following riders were sanctioned:
Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse), Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers), Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing), Fenati, Raul Fernandez (Sama Qatar Angel Nieto Team), Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PruestelGP), Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai), Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia), Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing), Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing), Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) and Makar Yurchenko (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) have all had their fastest laps in Q2 cancelled. Riccardo Rossi (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) and Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) have 12-position grid penalties, in addition to the 12-place penalties given to Sasaki and Ogura after Friday’s action. Darryn Binder (CIP – Green Power)
Sasaki starts P20, Ogura P22, Rossi P28, Migno P29 and Binder P30. Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) will start from pitlane due to his penalty from the Czech GP.