Fifth row for Antonelli in Australia


Italian rider takes fifteenth best time in qualifying for Australian GP. Bo Bendsneyder, in nineteenth, will start from the seventh row. 


Qualifying for the Australian Grand Prix did not go as well as expected for the Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto3 riders after three positive Free Practice sessions. Despite setting his personal best lap of the weekend, Niccolo Antonelli had to settle for fifteenth place -a spot on the fifth row. Rain with 4 minutes remaining of the session left no chance for improvement for the riders on their last stint. Bo Bendsneyder, who suffered a heavy crash in FP3, was finally nineteenth.

In conditions similar to those on Friday, Bendsneyder and Antonelli were quickly up into the Top 10 again. Just before the halfway mark of FP3, the Dutchman went down at Turn 10. He escaped unharmed, but did not have time to further lower his times, and was twelfth with a 1:38.852. Antonelli took advantage of the rest of the session to improve his feeling and placed eleventh, with a top time of 1:38.706. With 5 minutes to go, fine rain sent the riders back to the pits prematurely.

Amidst the threat of rain, the Moto3 riders went out for qualifying with the idea of quickly searching for the fastest lap. Up in the Top 10 on his first stint, Antonelli made a second and final stop in the garage when occupying 15th position -1:38.089. Just as he returned to the track, the flag indicating rain was waved by Race Direction, and he could not improve his spot on the grid. Bendsneyder, who had not felt at his best since his morning crash, experienced the same situation, placing 19th with a 1:38.293.

In tomorrow’s race, Niccolo Antonelli and Bo Bendsneyder will try to keep up a remarkable record for Red Bull KTM Ajo at Phillip Island, where in the last five years they hold 4 wins and 2 podiums. The Moto3 race will start at 13.00h local time, 4.00am CET. This will be the 100th GP for the Italian.


Results (Qualifying Practice)
1. Jorge Martin (Honda) 1:37.030
2. Gabriel Rodrigo (KTM) 1:37.248 +0.218
3. Joan Mir (Honda) 1:37.411 +0.381
4. Juanfran Guevara (KTM) 1:37.544 +0.514
5. Romano Fenati (Honda) 1:37.680 +0.650
15. Niccolo Antonelli (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:38.089 +1.059
19. Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:38.293 +1.263


“Qualifying did not go well. We aren’t happy, because we could have done better with the bike we have. At this track everyone attacks, and any rider can get into the Top 6. I was riding alone and pushing, and it is not easy when you’re going for the Top 5. I really feel good with the bike and that’s what matters for tomorrow. We know we can be up at the front in the race.”

“Today we had a difficult qualifying session. We need to improve on this for the next round because it is important for the race. The feeling with the bike is not bad, so I think the step we must take for the race tomorrow is not a massive one. I think that in the race there will be a big group at the front, it will be a tough fight and if we perform to our full potential we can be up at the front. We’ll see what happens tomorrow; we hope it’s dry.”