Antonelli and Bendsneyder to share third row for San Marino GP


Red Bull KTM Ajo riders take 8th and 9th place, respectively, in an exciting finale to Moto3 qualifying.

Niccolo Antonelli and Bo Bendsneyder both managed to achieve their goals for Saturday at the San Marino GP. In an closely-packed qualifying session at Misano, in which 22 riders were separated by a single second, the Red Bull KTM Ajo riders showed their persistence and determination, finishing 8th and 9th respectively. They both did so on a thrilling last lap, and the duo will set off from the third row tomorrow at the thirteenth race of the year.

It was not a last easy Free Practice session for the Red Bull KTM Ajo pair, despite track conditions that appeared favourable. Only Bendsneyder, on his last lap, was able to best his time from the previous day, lowering it by 2 tenths for a 1:43.583 that put him eighteenth. Antonelli, seventeen with a 1:43.544, crashed at Turn 2 with 4 minutes left, when it seemed that he would be able to climb several positions. Fortunately, the Italian was able to get back to the pits without any problems.

The step forward that the Red Bull KTM Ajo riders had been looking for arrived in qualifying, although the first few minutes were not easy. After two trips back to the pits, Antonelli -13th- and Bendsneyder -20th- went back out with 3 minutes remaining to complete one and two laps, respectively. After an exciting finale, both set their best times of the weekend: 1:42.594 for the Italian and 1:42.595 for the Dutchman, giving them 8th and 9th place on the grid.

Starting from the third row, the two riders will target a good result in tomorrow’s race, which begins at 11am local time. Last year’s edition of the Moto3 San Marino GP was won by Red Bull KTM Ajo rider Brad Binder.

Results (Qualifying Practice)
1. Enea Bastianini (Honda) 1:42.147
2. Jorge Martin (Honda) 1:42.320 +0.173
3. Joan Mir (Honda) 1:42.372 +0.225
4. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Honda) 1:42.391 +0.244
5. Romano Fenati (Honda) 1:42.473 +0.326
8. Niccolo Antonelli (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:42.594 +0.447
9. Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:42.595 +0.448


“We’ve got a good position for the grid tomorrow; eighth place is not bad. I’m also happy because we met the goal we set out for ourselves yesterday, to be on one of the first three rows. There are points on the track where we are very fast, and others where we aren’t so quick. I don’t think that tomorrow will be easy; it will be a very hard race and we are going to have to do our best to be competitive and attack from the opening lap. There are a lot of strong riders and I think the race will be run in a group, with 10 or 12 riders fighting for the win. It won’t be like it was two years ago when I got a podium here. The weather is also an unknown, so we’ll see.”

“We were still having a lot of difficulties after FP3. I couldn’t move the bike as I wanted and I didn’t have a good feeling with the front. However, the team did a fantastic job for qualifying and after the first stint I told them that I felt much more comfortable and could do what I wanted. Despite that, we still couldn’t set a better time; we were between P18 and P20, and I knew we could take a step further forward. On the last stint I found a good gap between riders and I was able to put in a very good lap, so I’m ending the day very happy. We’ll see what happens tomorrow. It looks like there might be rain, so we’ll have to find out what the grip level is and what feeling we have, but I know we’re ready to have a good race.”