Niccolo Antonelli to start from third row in the USA


Red Bull KTM Ajo rider sets the eighth fastest time in qualifying for the Red Bull Grand Prix Of The Americas. Bendsneyder will start from tenth place, on the fourth row.


The Red Bull KTM Ajo riders both took a step forward on Saturday in Austin. With lower temperatures than on Friday, Niccolo Antonelli and Bo Bendsneyder managed to significantly lower their times and climb positions. The Italian, eighth, took a place on the third row. One row back will be teammate Bendsneyder, who qualified tenth.
A cooler track -23ºC- and stronger gusts of wind were not a problem for Bendsneyder, who started well in the last Free Practice session of the weekend. The Dutchman led the way in the first fifteen minutes, and his best lap of 2:17.500 came on his first stint. That put him eleventh -and showed he was comfortable with these tricky conditions. Antonelli used a contrasting strategy, completing his best laps in the last few minutes, but like Bendsneyder he improved his time, and took almost a second off his best lap from Friday. His 2:17.191 placed him seventh.

The qualifying session did not begin as Bendsneyder had hoped, as he suffered a light crash 19 minutes in at Turn 18. However, it did not prevent him from getting back out on track and improving his times. After riding for the first time in the 2:16s, both Red Bull KTM Ajo riders waited until their last run to set their best laps. Antonelli was up as high as second with 4 minutes remaining, but his time of 2:16.060 eventually put him eighth. Bendsneyder achieved his spot in the Top 10 with a 2:16.284 on his final attempt.

In tomorrow’s race -which starts at 11:00h local time-, Niccolo Antonelli and Bo Bendsneyder will try to fight for podium positions. In the last 4 years, the Red Bull KTM Ajo team have been on the rostrum three times at Austin.


Results (Qualifying Practice)
1. Aron Canet (Honda) 2:14.644
2. Joan Mir (Honda) 2:15.631 + 0.987
3. Romano Fenati (Honda) 2:15.641 +0.997
4. Nicolo Bulega (KTM) 2:15.815 +1.171
5. Jorge Martin (Honda) 2:15.921 +1.277
8. Niccolo Antonelli (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2:16.060 +1.416
10. Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2:16.284 +1.640


“Today went well. We improved our best times by a lot in each session, and we took an important step forward. I’m a little short of finding the perfect traction to get the best angle, because I still can’t do it consistently. Let’s see if in the warmup we can finish defining it. We’ll see what happens in the race, but I think we can fight for the podium.”

“Today was a positive day. In the morning, after the sessions we had yesterday, we changed the aspect of the bike that was letting us down. We took a big step forward, so FP3 went very well. In qualifying we started well, but then I crashed. After that, the mechanics prepared the bike very quickly and we were able to continue; we set a good fast lap at the end of the session. Tenth place is not a bad position from which to start the race -and be able to fight hard to achieve a good result.”