Öncü returns to front row at Japanese Grand Prix


Deniz Öncü finishes second in qualifying, with Jose Antonio Rueda sixteenth.

Qualifying sessions for the Japanese Grand Prix took place this Saturday at Mobility Resort Motegi, with a great fight for pole in which Deniz Öncü earned second position. Jose Antonio Rueda finished sixteenth after having to go through Q1.

Practice 3 allowed the Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto3 riders to fine-tune the final details before qualifying. Both riders were able to improve their times from Friday and Deniz Öncü went into the top positions on the timesheets after a pit stop. The Turkish rider achieved his best time on his tenth lap, with a 1:56.660 which placed him in third position. Rueda continued to take steps forward and has given his best to secure a direct place in Q2. Although he improved his times from the previous day, it was not enough to take him into Q2. He was seventeenth, with a time of 1:57.350, set on his eighth lap of 10.

In Q1 Rueda worked alone with the aim of finishing in the top four. The young driver showed his evolution and went from strength to strength to take the fourth position. He set his best time on the last lap with a 1:57.585.

Q2 saw Öncü reach the top positions early and improve his feeling, going on to fight for pole position. He clocked his best time of the weekend on his fifth attempt of seven, and his 1:56.539 puts him in second position and on the front row for the fifth time this season. Rueda also put in his best time of the weekend, but a 1:57.589 was only enough for sixteenth. However, sanctions applied to other riders allow him to advance one position and he will start the race from fifteenth, on the fifth row of the grid.

The 17-laps Moto3 Japanese GP race will take place on Sunday at 12 PM local time.

Results (Qualifying session)
1. Jaume Masia (Honda) 1:56.331
2. Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:56.539 +0.208
3. Matteo Bertelle (Honda) 1:56.651 +0.320
4. Stefano Nepa (KTM) 1:56.695 +0.364
5. Ivan Ortola (KTM) 1:56.759 +0.428
16. Jose Antonio Rueda (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:57.289 +0.958


“We achieved a good result today, although we lacked some acceleration on the straight. We are trying our best, but this weekend has not been so easy for me. I’m giving 100% on every lap and I’m trying to ride as cleanly and as fast as possible. Getting another front row is super positive, we just have to manage the race in a good way and fight for the victory tomorrow.”


“Practice 3 didn’t go as expected and we weren’t able to go directly through to Q1. In qualifying we were able to solve the problems we had in the morning and I could improve. In Q2 I pushed as hard as possible and I tried to get a place as high up as possible on the grid, but today wasn’t my day. I’m happy with the result in any case, because we were able to take the bike one step further. I think that tomorrow I will be able to catch up with the front group on the opening laps.”