Antonelli starts San Marino GP weekend in Top10


Red Bull KTM Ajo rider sets ninth best time in Free Practice on Friday. Bo Bendsneyder places thirteenth, despite suffering a small crash.

Niccolo Antonelli began this year’s edition of the San Marino GP in promising fashion. The Italian, from the town of Cattolica located just 5 km from the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, completed the first two Free Practice sessions for his home round in ninth place, 8 tenths off the top spot. Teammate Bo Bendsneyder experienced a more complicated afternoon, with a small crash that lost him a lot of time, and placed thirteenth.

Heavy rainfall overnight left the track still wet in the morning. The Moto3 riders went out for FP1 with cut slicks, putting in laps in mixed conditions that made drawing conclusions difficult. With 8 minutes remaining in the session, Bendsneyder and Antonelli both came into the garage to fit slicks for the first time, putting in 5 laps apiece thereafter. Bendsneyder was fifteenth, with a 1:48.917 best lap, and Antonelli twenty-first with a 1:49.617.

Sunshine in the afternoon dried out the track completely, and the Red Bull KTM Ajo riders were able to lower their times on their very first attempt. Bendsneyder suffered an unexplained crash at Turn 4, after his first stop in the pits, but escaped unhurt. Concerned by a lack of grip, the Dutchman was only been able to complete one fast lap: A 1:43.705 that put him thirteenth. Antonelli had a very good pace throughout FP2, clocking his best time on his final attempt. His 1:43.453 lap placed him ninth.

Qualifying for the San Marino GP takes place tomorrow from 12.35pm local time. In last year’s Grand Prix, the Moto3 pole was taken by Red Bull KTM Ajo rider Brad Binder.

Results (Combined practice times FP1-FP2)
1. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Honda) 1:42.620
2. Jorge Martin (Honda) 1:42.691 +0.071
3. Enea Bastianini (Honda) 1:42.789 +0.169
4. Gabriel Rodrigo (KTM) 1:42.924 +0.304
5. Romano Fenati (Honda) 1:43.096 +0.476
9. Niccolo Antonelli (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:43.453 +0.833
13. Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:43.705 +1.085


“I felt pretty good on this first day of my home GP. Today we set a good pace, although we are still missing a little something to keep up with the fastest riders. This afternoon we will sit down with the team to try to see how to make this difference smaller, because we are aware that we can achieve that. We have to work on our acceleration out of corners, and if we take a step forward with that we will gain more time. Tomorrow we will set out qualifying with the goal of being among the top ten, and that would be a good result ahead of the race.”

“It was a shame about the crash in FP2, because we had planned to put in a lot of laps to prepare for tomorrow, but in the end we couldn’t do that. I still don’t know why I went down and why, additionally, on my last stint I lacked a lot of grip. We’re missing something, but I know we’re close to finding it. After the crash I only put in one more fast lap, without pushing my hardest because I didn’t feel comfortable with the tyres, and yet we were only a second away from the fastest rider. I’m sure we can reduce that difference tomorrow, and we will try to get more grip -especially with the front. We will work hard to improve.”