Deniz Öncü back on the front row at Qatar Grand Prix


The Turkish rider sets the third best time in qualifying, while Jose Antonio Rueda is eighteenth.

Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto3 suffered mixed fortunes in qualifying for the Qatar Grand Prix. With both drivers going directly into Q2, Deniz Öncü fought for pole position until the end of the session, and will start the race from third on the grid. Teammate Jose Antonio Rueda did not get the result he had hoped for, and will be on the sixth row, in eighteenth.

Öncü started the third and final Practice with a very good feeling, akin to that which he had in the opening session of the weekend, and quickly improved his times from Friday. Öncü set the pace at the Lusail International Circuit, and shaved tenths off his own top lap before a final attempt gave him a 2:05.843 to lead the field. Rueda approached the session with getting into Q2 as his main objective. The Moto3 rookie took a step forward compared to Friday and also improved his times. Rueda worked hard to place in the Top 14, and snuck in with a 2:06.815 on his last lap of ten, to finish thirteenth.

With both riders making their way directly into Q2, Öncü continued with the same strategy as in the morning and fought for pole position from the opening laps. He showed that he feels strong and confident on the Qatari track, and after a pit stop he went back out for another assault on pole. A time of 2:04.894, achieved on his fourth lap of seven, puts him third, on the front row for the ninth time this season. Rueda had a disappointing Q2 as, despite continuing to feel good throughout the day, the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider was hindered by riding alone. Rueda tried until the end, although yellow flags shown in the final minutes prevented him from improving his time and he was only able to place eighteenth with a time of 2:06.690. He will start from the sixth row.

The 16-lap Moto3 Qatar Grand Prix race will begin at 5 PM local time on Sunday.

Results (Qualifying)
1. Daniel Holgado (KTM) 2:04.742
2. Diogo Moreira (KTM) 2:04.745 +0.003
3. Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2:04.894 +0.152
4. Ayumu Sasaki (Husqvarna) 2:05.066 +0.324
5. Collin Veijer (Husqvarna) 2:05.204 +0.462
18. Jose Antonio Rueda (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2:06.690 +1.948

“I’m confident about tomorrowToprake’re fast and that is very positive. Starting the race from the front row is really good and, for sure, we will fight during the whole race. I’m happy to have my friend Toprak here, as it’s an extra source of motivation and he’s giving me advice about how to handle the situation in order to keep my chances in the title chase alive, so let’s enjoy the race and keep working with the team in the same way.”

“In Practice 3 we made a change that worked better with the bike. We were able to set a good time that took us directly into Q2 and we are happy with the feeling we had, because it improved. Our strategy in Q2 was not the best; we started out alone and we did what we could without anyone in front of us. We are 18th, so we have to fight to reach the front group as soon as possible and not lose touch with them in tomorrow’s race.”