Antonelli seventh amidst difficult conditions on first day at Jerez


Italian rider kicks off Red Bull Spanish Grand Prix in the Top 10. Bendsneyder places 22nd on another wet day of Moto3 action.


The first European leg of the Moto3 World Championship got underway today at Jerez Circuit, where difficult track conditions greeted the Red Bull KTM Ajo team riders. After an FP1 session in the rain and an FP2 in which puddles and damp spots remained on the Andalusian track, Niccolo Antonelli finished seventh overall. Teammate Bo Bendsneyder was 22nd in the combined standings for the two sessions.

No sooner had Free Practice 1 got underway at 9am than rain began to fall. The fine precipitation completely altered plans for Antonelli and Bendsneyder, as the track was slow in becoming completely wet. The pair delayed their departure from the pits until only quarter of an hour remained in the session, emerging with wet tyres. They placed fifth -2:02.073- and fourteenth -2:04.206-, respectively.

Despite the appearance of sunshine for FP2, the track still had wet sections that prevented the lower cylinder class riders from going fast from the start. After waiting 7 minutes in the pits for the conditions to improve, the Red Bull KTM Ajo duo decided on a stint with slick tyres. Bendsneyder would complete only one lap before returning to the garage to wait for the track to dry completely. On their last run, both riders were able to set their best times of the day, with Antonelli finishing seventh -1:50.964- and Bendsneyder 22nd -1:52.264.

The Red Bull KTM Ajo riders will participate in one last Free Practice on Saturday morning, before qualifying practice at 12:35pm local time. The goal for both will be to get a place on the front three rows, giving them a prime spot from which to push for victory on Sunday.

Results (Combined practice time FP1-FP2)
1. Joan Mir (Honda) 1:49.564
2. Romano Fenati (Honda) 1:49.785 +0.221
3. John McPhee (Honda) 1:50.398 +0.834
4. Darryn Binder (KTM) 1:50.566 +1.002
5. Livio Loi (Honda) 1:50.574 +1.010
7. Niccolo Antonelli (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:50.964 +1.400
22. Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:52.264 +2.700


“In the first session we encountered wet conditions, but I’m not worrying too much because Sunday’s race has a 99% chance of being in dry and sunny weather. We didn’t have too many references in the second session either, because there were still damp patches, but we were able to work a little more.
Tomorrow I think we will have a much better day, with a dry track, and we will be able to prepare ourselves to the fullest. It will be important to be on the front three rows, because it is a bit difficult to overtake from far back at this track. Last year I was fourth, but I had a problem that did not allow me to take advantage of the position; This time we will try to make sure everything works out better.”

“Today was a difficult day here in Jerez. In FP1, with a wet track, I preferred not to risk things, since it looks like tomorrow and on Sunday the conditions will be completely different, with plenty of sun. FP2 was dry, but there were parts of the track that were still wet and I didn’t feel comfortable. We’ve learned things from this day, but we can say that due to the track conditions we will be practically starting again tomorrow, with more normal conditions. The goal for qualifying is to get amongst the front three rows -we will see how we do in dry conditions.”