Bendsneyder and Antonelli get season finale underway in Valencia


Red Bull KTM Ajo riders finish in 16th and 23rd position, respectively, on the combined Friday timesheet.

Bo Bendsneyder and Niccolo Antonelli began their final race weekend of 2017 this Friday in Valencia, with two Free Practice sessions held in dry conditions but with low temperatures. On a first day in which preparation and setups were the focus, the Red Bull KTM Ajo team riders finished 16th and 23rd, respectively, on the combined standings for FP1 and FP2.

With track and ambient temperatures of 9ºC degrees in the morning, Bendsneyder and Antonelli went out for their opening runs with extreme caution. Each of them followed a different strategy: Bendsneyder made two stops, with Antonelli returning to the pits three times during the session. Both used new tyres on their final stint. Bendsneyder set a good pace, leading the way with 8 minutes left and putting in the exact same time on three consecutive laps, finishing with a last lap –1:40.393– that placed him sixth. Antonelli was fifteenth with a 1:40.782 time.

In the afternoon, both riders decided to keep with the same tactics as the morning session. With three runs each and a return to the new tyres on their last attempt, Bendsneyder clocked his best time with his final lap: 1:40.318. That put him fourteenth, improving his pace from the morning. Antonelli also followed a positive progression, although a crash at Turn 3 –from which he escaped unscathed– slowed his progress in the final stretch of the session. He placed 24th with a 1:40.859.

Tomorrow both riders will seek to take a step forward in the qualifying session which will allow them to access the top grid positions. The session takes place at 12:35pm local time.

Results (Combined practice times FP1-FP2)
1. Jorge Martin (Honda) 1:39.209
2. Aron Canet (Honda) 1:39.605 +0.396
3. Marcos Ramirez (KTM) 1:39.669 +0.460
4. Juanfran Guevara (KTM) 1:39.876 +0.667
5. Joan Mir (Honda) 1:39.964 +0.755
16. Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:40.318 +1.109
23. Niccolo Antonelli (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:40.782 +1.573


“It has not been easy facing these low temperatures on the first day in Valencia. We haven’t yet found the best setup for these conditions. We will sit down with the team this afternoon to analyse the data. The bike is moving about a lot and we must understand why that is. At the end of the last session I suffered a highside, when I was trying to push. I lost the rear and went flying. Fortunately I’m fine and ready to go tomorrow.”

“The feeling throughout the day has been quite good, but especially so in FP1. With used tires I think we are quite competitive. We just needed to get better with new tires on the last stint. It was a test to prepare for qualifying, but on none of those three laps was I able to get a clean run. Honestly, I think that our position does not really reflect where we are; I think we should be higher up, based on how we feel. We are confident for tomorrow, and we can take a step forward.”