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Moto3 qualifying Motegi: Third pole position in a row for Jaume Masia

Jaume Masia (Honda) secures best grid position again in Japan – Daniel Holgado (KTM) on row two – Three riders with penalties, including Collin Veijer

Jaume Masia (Honda) continued his current strong performance in qualifying for the Moto3 race in Japan. The Spaniard took pole position at Motegi for the third time in a row with a time of 1’56.331. It is the ninth in Masia’s career. In the history of the Moto3 class since 2012, only Alex Rins and Jorge Martin have started from the best grid spot more often.

“I’m having a really good run,” Masia said happily, “Thanks to my team for the performance we’re putting in at the moment. It’s really incredible. I feel equipped for the race. I think it’s going to be entertaining.”

Masia set a new lap record. The old one came from Hiroki Ono in 2016.

Three riders received penalties ahead of qualifying. Diogo Moreira (KTM), Collin Veijer (Husqvarna) and Joel Kelso (CFMoto) had taken their left hand off the handlebars in the morning practice on the home straight in order to be a bit more aerodynamic.

This is forbidden in the small class for safety reasons. These three riders will be moved back by free places in the starting grid. There was also another decision by the officials in the run-up to the weekend.

Ivan Ortola (KTM) and Kelso were disqualified retroactively from the Barcelona weekend. Their oil samples had not met the specifications. New engines from KTM were installed in Barcelona. These had previously been tested on test benches in Mattighofen.

Apparently, there were still residues from another oil from these test bench tests. In the two small classes Petronas is the standard supplier for lubricants. Kelso had not scored any World Championship points in Barcelona. Ortola was stripped of pole position and tenth place.

Back to Motegi. In Q1, Riccardo Rossi (Honda) set the best time with 1:57.161 minutes. Kelso, Taiyo Furusato (Honda) and Jose Antonio Rueda (KTM) also made it into Q2. For the second PrüstelGP rider, Xavier Artigas, the race was over for the fifth time in a row.

In Q2, Masia set the pace right from the start. Deniz Öncü (KTM) was the first to follow, two tenths of a second behind. Matteo Bertelle (Honda) secured third place. Bertelle thus captured a place on the front row of the grid for the second time in a row.

Places four to six went to Stefano Nepa (KTM), Ortola and Daniel Holgado (KTM), who came to Japan level on points with Masia. In qualifying, Veijer, Ayumo Sasaki (Husqvarna) and David Munoz (KTM) took positions seven to nine.

With the penalty for teammate Veijer, Sasaki will start seventh on Sunday. No time was set by Rossi in Q2. The Italian had a crash on his first flying lap. He then made his way to the medical centre.

Romano Fenati is missing in Japan due to injury. The veteran rider will be replaced by David Almansa in the Snipers team. David Salvador is also absent due to a foot injury. The Spaniard will not be replaced by another rider in the CIP team.



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