Antonelli takes step forward to start Spanish GP from sixth


Italian rider meets his target for qualifying and will take off from the second row at the Red Bull Spanish Grand Prix. Bo Bendsneyder will do so from 24th position.

Saturday was a bittersweet day for the Red Bull KTM Ajo team at the Red Bull Spanish Grand Prix. Niccolo Antonelli took a step forward in qualifying to place sixth, whilst there were difficulties in the session for Bo Bendsneyder -24th. Track conditions for the Moto3 World Championship riders at Jerez Circuit were perfect, allowing them to improve their times from yesterday and gain information for the race on Sunday -for which dry weather is forecast.

Free Practice 3 was also held in good conditions, and the Red Bull KTM Ajo team took the opportunity to regain their feeling in the dry. After completing 18 laps apiece of the Andalusian track, Bendsneyder had a best time of 1:47.792 -15th- and Antonelli a 1:47.843 for 18th.

During qualifying, Antonelli took a big step forward with respect to the previous session. The Italian was able to set a time of 1:46.757 on his second stint, improving his previous best lap by more than a second. With this result, Antonelli will be sixth on the grid for the Spanish round -fulfilling his goal of qualifying on one of the front three rows. For teammate Bendsneyder it was a difficult session, as despite continuous improvement he placed 24th -1:47.501- and will round off from row 8 on the starting grid tomorrow.

The Moto3 race will begin at 11am on Sunday. Last year, Brad Binder won for Red Bull KTM Ajo in an amazing race, gaining 34 places along the way. In 2015, the South African and Miguel Oliveira gave the team a podium double.

Results (Qualifying Practice)
1. Jorge Martin (Honda) 1:46.004
2. Aron Canet (Honda) 1:46.441 + 0.437
3. Romano Fenati (Honda) 1:46.518 +0.514
4. Nicolo Bulega (KTM) 1:46.655 +0.651
5. Marcos Ramirez (KTM) 1:46.700 +0.696
6. Niccolo Antonelli (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:46.757 +0.753
24. Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:47.501 +1.497

“I felt pretty good today. I am happy to have taken this second row here in Jerez, because in the test we did not do too well and now I have been able to improve the time I did then. It has been difficult, but we have succeeded. We knew we had to improve in order to be up at the front in the race, and now I just have to give my all to get the best possible result. I don’t know if there will be many riders in the front group, but I hope not. My goal will be to be at the front and finish as high up as I can.”

“This second day at Jerez has been difficult, because we had high expectations from the good test we did here but things have not been easy. The truth is that in the tests we tried many different setups and I was always fast, whilst this weekend we don’t seem to be managing it. It must be something to do with my riding. Now we have to check the data and see where we can improve. We hope to find some solutions in the warmup which allow us to have a good race and pick up some points. We will work hard and hope that tomorrow everything will go better.”