Raul Fernandez battles for pole position in Qatar07/03/2020
Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto3 rider finished second in qualifying by less than a tenth, whilst teammate Kaito Toba qualified 12th for the season opener.
On Saturday the Moto3 field contested its first day of qualifying in 2020 under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit, featuring a great show for the Red Bull KTM Ajo riders. Both Raul Fernandez and Kaito Toba went straight into Q2, battling amongst the fastest competitors in the class in a hard-fought session. The Spaniard claimed second on the grid, whilst Toba will take off from the fourth row, in 12th position.
The heat in Qatar limited an improvement in lap times during FP3. However, Fernandez would confirm his good feeling from Friday by leading the session. On his seventh lap of 10, he clocked a 2:05.465, for an advantage of over 2 tenths. Toba was 11th, setting a 2:06.123, despite suffering a small crash at the end of the session. The Japanese rider put in a total of 11 laps.
The Red Bull KTM Ajo duo earned spots in Q2 thanks to their times from Friday. In that session, after an almost impeccable final lap, Fernandez finished second with a 2:04.823, going just 8 thousandths of a second slower than the poleman. The Spaniard matched therefore his best grid position in Grand Prix racing, which puts him onto the front row for tomorrow’s race. Toba was 12th with a 2:05.421 best time, 6 tenths off the top spot.
The first 18-lap race of the 2020 Moto3 World Championship gets underway on Sunday at 4:20 pm local time.
Results (Qualifying sessions)
1. Tatsuki Suzuki (Honda) 2:04.815
2. Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2:04.823 +0.008
3. Albert Arenas (KTM) 2:04.925 +0.110
4. Darryn Binder (KTM) 2:05.026 +0.211
5. Ai Ogura (Honda) 2:05.065 +0.250
12. Kaito Toba (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2:05.421 +0.606
25 RAUL FERNANDEZ
“It was a very positive day. I feel confident with my race tyre choice, so we are prepared to fight in what I hope is a contest split in groups. It will be important to stay focused, since today I struggled a little to keep calm because I wanted to do well in my first qualifying session with the team. Even so, we did a great job, and I feel comfortable with both the hard and soft compounds. The goal for tomorrow is to try to be in the Top 5, so I’m going to give it my all to achieve that.”
27 KAITO TOBA
“I’m happy, although today was not my best qualifying performance. We worked with our focus on tomorrow’s race, and we showed that we have a strong pace – so I know that we are prepared to contest the first race of the year. It will be crucial to be in a good position off the start, in order to push hard and stick with the front group.”