Fifth row start for Antonelli in Argentina


Red Bull KTM Ajo rider takes fourteenth position on the grid in a difficult qualifying session. Bo Bendsneyder will start from seventeenth.

The first qualifying session of the year did not go as well as the Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto3 riders had hoped. Under threatening clouds at Termas de Rio Hondo, Niccolo Antonelli and Bo Bendsneyder were unable to get the position they had worked for in the preceding Free Practice sessions. Fine rain in the last minutes of QP prevented them from taking advantage of their last stint, meaning they had to settle for positions on the fifth and sixth row for the Argentinian GP (fourteenth and seventeenth place).

The Moto3 riders benefited from opening the day’s action on Saturday, as they were the only class to complete FP3 in dry conditions. The Red Bull KTM Ajo duo managed to get the most out of the time in colder conditions to Friday -Antonelli leading the way with 15 minutes left. The Italian had a good pace and improved his time from the previous day to finish ninth -1:50.181-. Bendsneyder also set a personal best lap -1:50.484- to climb to fifteenth place.

The rain that fell in the Free Practice sessions for MotoGP and Moto2 caused the Moto3 riders to go all-out in the first minutes of qualifying. Antonelli and Bendsneyder were able to ride in the dry until their second trip back to the garage, when a few drops of rain started to fall. Having improved their times throughout the weekend, the damp conditions hindered the plans of both riders at a crucial moment for deciding grid positions. Antonelli qualified fourteenth -1:49.974- one row ahead of Bendsneyder -1:50.042-.

The Red Bull KTM Ajo pair are already focused on the second race of the season. The 21-lap contest gets underway tomorrow at 1pm local time.


Results (Qualifying Practice)
1. John McPhee (Honda) 1:49.094
2. Nicolo Bulega (KTM) 1:49.248 + 0.154
3. Jorge Martin (Honda) 1:49.323 +0.229
4. Aron Canet (Honda) 1:49.463 +0.369
5. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Honda) 1:49.486 +0.392
14. Niccolo Antonelli (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:49.974 +0.880
17. Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:50.042 +0.948


“Although if we look at the final result we are slightly far back, the day has gone well; I think we have a good pace ahead of tomorrow’s race. If we can make a good start, I think we can be up there in the first group and fighting for good positions. Starting on rows far back on the grid is never easy, but we will do our best to achieve our goal.”

“Today we have improved a lot. We are happy about that, although we have to keep looking for a better pace ahead of the race. The qualifying session was strange because it rained, and we did not know if we could push or not. It was difficult. In the end we improved a lot, especially with the setup of the bike. Step by step we are making progress. Looking ahead to tomorrow’s race, I think it will be a tough fight. We will work hard in the warmup, and then we will see what happens in the race.”