Incredible second row for debutant Can Öncü


Red Bull KTM Ajo Junior Academy rider takes fourth on the grid for Valencia GP. Darryn Binder will start from the seventh row.


Can Öncü once again left MotoGP fans open-mouthed on Saturday, with his fourth position in the Moto3 qualifying session for the Valencia GP. The young Turkish rider, who is making his first wildcard appearance in the World Championship, was a constant in the top positions, and will head the second row. Darryn Binder will start the last race of the year from nineteenth place, on the seventh row.

Early in the morning, the track was still wet after overnight rain. Despite the track conditions, Can Öncü managed to lower his Friday time by more than a second, on only his second lap. He suffered a small crash with ten minutes remaining, finishing the session 21st with a time of 1:51.108. Darryn Binder also improved his time from yesterday on his first stint. Unfortunately, the South African crashed at Turn 12 with one minute remaining, concluding the session 26th.

For qualifying, the Red Bull KTM Ajo riders had to face a slowly drying surface, which meant both went out with wet tyres. Öncü was persistent as a candidate for pole, and not even another small crash would keep him from placing fourth with a 1:47.336 lap. He had led the way in the session at several points, and will try to challenge the frontrunners tomorrow. Binder experienced a difficult qualifying session but was able to lower his morning time with a 1:48.772 and place on the seventh row of the grid.

The last Moto3 race of the season will start tomorrow at 11am and will be contested over 23 laps. The Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto3 team have won at Valencia in 2014, 2015 and 2016.


Results (Qualifying Session)
1. Tony Arbolino (Honda) 1:46.773
2. Nakarin Atiratphuvapat (Honda) 1:47.017 +0.244
3. John McPhee (KTM) 1:47.116 +0.343
4. Can Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:47.336 +0.563
5. Aron Canet (Honda) 1:47.431 +0.658
19. Darryn Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:48.772 +1.999



“Today the track was less wet than yesterday and during the qualifying session there was even a small dry line. However, we undertook the entirety of qualifying with wet tyres. At the start I didn’t have a good feeling and I couldn’t go fast. We made a big change that allowed us to improve but, even so, it wasn’t enough to place higher up.
I feel confident and I think we can do better. It was a difficult qualifying session, so we will see how it turns out tomorrow, but what is certain is that we will go for it. I will give my all in the race to get the best possible result.”


“In the morning I didn’t feel completely comfortable; We had some issues and I went slightly off track. We have analysed the problem and we have started working on it. At the start of qualifying I knew I could set a good time, because I believed in myself. We have worked very hard for this weekend and, finally, we achieved a great result, so I’m very happy with this fourth position. I can only thank the entire team, because they are the best. Now it’s time to enjoy the race tomorrow and get the best possible result from my first GP as a World Championship rider.”