Bendsneyder takes spot on third row for Italian GP


Bo Bendsneyder and Niccolo Antonelli improve feeling in qualifying and rise to ninth and twelfth, respectively, on the grid.


The Red Bull KTM Ajo riders come into Sunday’s Italian Grand Prix optimistic after a positive qualifying session. Both Bo Bendsneyder and Niccolo Antonelli had their best sessions of the weekend so far, to clinch spots on the top four rows. The Dutchman was ninth, just one row ahead of his teammate, in twelfth. Grid positions could yet be changed, should penalties be applied to different riders by Race Direction in the coming hours.

With track conditions similar to those seen yesterday in FP1, the Red Bull KTM Ajo riders were focused on improving their times on Saturday. It was not an easy task, and it took until the final 10 minutes of the morning Free Practice session that they managed to do so. Bendsneyder, eleventh -1:58.312-, was one of the riders to lower his time most considerably, by 9 tenths, riding alone on his last lap. Niccolo Antonelli finished twenty-five with a time of 1:59.222.

At a circuit where slipstreams are so important in Moto3, traffic built up early on in qualifying as riders waited for a tow. Bendsneyder and Antonelli went out with soft tyres, determined to improve their times on their initial stint. However, they had to wait until their third and final run, with intermediate tyres, to set their best laps of the weekend: 1:57.993 for Bendneyder in ninth, and 1:58.123 for Antonelli in twelfth.

The sixth Moto3 race of the year will take place tomorrow from 11am local time. The Red Bull KTM Ajo riders will push for the team’s third successive victory at Mugello in Moto3, after triumphs for current Moto2 riders Miguel Oliveira in 2015 and Brad Binder in 2016.


Results (Qualifying Practice)
1. Jorge Martin (Honda) 1:57.176
2. John McPhee (Honda) 1:57.324 +0.148
3. Joan Mir (Honda) 1:57.370 +0.194
4. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Honda) 1:57.595 +0.419
5. Nicolo Bulega (KTM) 1:57.768 +0.592
9. Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:57.993 +0.817
12. Niccolo Antonelli (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:57.123 +0.947


“Twelfth position is not bad for tomorrow’s race. Fortunately we have improved the setup a little bit from yesterday. I still can’t get the feeling I expected to have here, but it will not be an impediment to our fighting tomorrow in the race. The time has come in which I adapt to the bike -and not the other way around. Tomorrow in the race there is sure to be a big lead group, and I hope to be up there. I hope that in the warmup I continue improving my feeling and am able to fight for a good result.”

“The qualifying practice went quite well; The problem was that at first we put the soft tyre on, and I didn’t feel so comfortable. After that, I improved and climbed positions. I knew I could be faster than I had been in the morning. I waited until the last attempt to set my best lap, without many riders on track and with no slipstream. The result was good, with me climbing up to ninth position. I am happy with QP today. I think there will be a very big group tomorrow, so we need to be very strong to fight with the frontrunners. We’ll see what happens.”