Binder to start Catalan GP from pole


World Championship leader takes QP top spot for second time this season, with Red Bull KTM Ajo teammate Bo Bendsneyder on the fifth row.

Still shaken by the loss of Luis Salom, a former Red Bull KTM Ajo rider in 2013, the Moto3 World Championship returned to action on Saturday for a somber second day of the Catalan Grand Prix. At a track with a new layout introduced as a safety measure, Brad Binder took his second pole position of the season. Red Bull KTM Ajo teammate, Bo Bendsneyder, made good progress during the day and will take off from thirteenth on raceday.

After the tragic events of Friday, the race organisers decided to change the last sector of the track and modify the time schedule, giving the Moto3 riders 55 minutes of Free Practice to help learn the modifications. Both Binder and Bendsneyder continued riding with used tyres during the session, in which times were over 3 seconds slower than before. Binder was ninth -1:55.383- and Bendsneyder nineteenth -1:55.958.

In a qualifying session affected by heavy traffic, Binder went in search of a hot lap on his second stint. Despite several attempts, it was not until his final push that he was able to exploit a gap on track, stopping the clock at 1:54.024 for the second pole position of his career. Working with his teammate, Bo Bendsneyder also improved on his last lap, setting a 1:54.830 that puts him fourteenth. A penalty for another rider moves the Dutchman up one place.

Starting from the front row of the grid for the third time this season, Binder has a chance of a fourth consecutive victory when the race begins at 11.00am local time tomorrow. Bo Bendsneyder will try to add points to his tally with a Top 15 finish.

Results (Qualifying practice)
1. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:54.024
2. Niccolo Antonelli (Honda) 1:54.078 +0.054
3. Jorge Navarro (Honda) 1:54.112 +0.088
4. Nicolo Bulega (KTM) 1:54.131 +0.107
5. Enea Bastianini (Honda) 1:54.167 +0.143
14. Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) +0.806

“Taking pole position was totally unexpected. The truth is that in FP3 we suffered a bit on the new section of the track, but we solved this issue in the afternoon. The goal was to go fast in the race simulation and ensure that we get in the top six for tomorrow, but I felt very strong in QP and I pushed my hardest. At the end there was a large group of riders on the final sectors, with a lot of them going wide, but fortunately I was able to hold on and take pole. Luis [Salom] was my teammate in 2012, one of the best years of my life. I’ll miss him, but I’ve also got so many good memories of him.”

“I’m happy with the result of a very strange qualifying session. I tried to set my best lap in the middle of the session, in order to be more relaxed towards the end, but I couldn’t manage it. We had to put on new tyres for our best times. It wasn’t the best lap I could have done, because there were several riders who blocked my way on the track, meaning I lost time passing them, but 14th is not bad and it means we are back into the Top 15. I like the new layout. I liked the section before because my riding is very smooth and I prefer fast corners. At first it felt a bit strange because the new corners are slower, but once I got used to it I enjoyed it. It’s been a very strange GP, after the loss of Luis [Salom]. There is nothing I can really say. We have to make an effort and continue riding for him.”