Rueda takes another front row with second in Austin


The Red Bull KTM Ajo Moto3 rider is second in qualifying, while Xabi Zurutuza will start from 23rd.

Saturday featured qualifying for the Grand Prix of the Americas, and Jose Antonio Rueda missed out on pole position by just 0.017. The Spanish rider will start from the second position and still has not left the first row of the grid this season. Xabi Zurutuza faced a challenging qualifying session and, after going into Q1, he was 23rd.

Saturday morning temperatures were lower than on the previous day and the Moto3 riders competed in Practice 2 for direct access to Q2. Rueda, who finished among the Top 14 on Friday, worked in search of the best setup for qualifying. The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider improved his times, dropping below the 2:15 mark and fighting for the top spots. After 11 laps, Rueda finished seventh with a 2:14.720, clocked on his ninth lap. Zurutuza worked with his teammate to continue gaining pace and confidence in Austin. The Red Bull KTM Ajo rookie cut a second off his quickest time from Friday, but nevertheless was unable to make the cut for Q2 and with a time of 2:15.830 he was 24th.

Zurutuza went into Q1 and fought to climb up the order from the beginning, although lap times in general were somewhat slower than in the morning. His best time was a 2:17.818 for ninth position, and as such he will start his first race in the Moto3 World Championship from 23rd. In Q2, Rueda was the first to set the pace, although his rivals quickly joined in the fight. He once again proved to be one of the most consistent and competitive riders on the grid and ran a pace faster than the circuit record, although finally that lap was cancelled for exceeding the track limits. On his last attempt, Rueda took the top spot again thanks to a 2:14.309, but was usurped in the closing moments by just +0.017. Tomorrow he will start the race in second position, on the front row for the third consecutive time.

The 14-lap Moto3 Grand Prix of the Americas race takes place on Sunday at 11 am local time.

Results Qualifying
1. David Alonso (CFMoto) 2:14.292
2. Jose Antonio Rueda (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2:14.309 +0.017
3. Daniel Holgado (GasGas) 2:14.487 +0.195
4. Collin Veijer (Husqvarna) 2:14.574 +0.282
5. Joel Kelso (KTM) 2:14.800 +0.508
23. Xabi Zurutuza (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 2:17.818 +2.547 *Q1 Time



“On the last braking section on the long right hander, I lost the rear and lost a little time because of that. I attacked the next corner and by going so fast I hit the green, which is why my lap was cancelled. On the next lap I was a little more relaxed so as not to make any mistakes. In the end I’m very happy to be on the front row again and we’ll see how it goes tomorrow. This season I have achieved something that was difficult for us last season, which is to be fast over a single lap. I’m happy to have improved in that aspect.”


“It was a bittersweet day, but we have been learning. Q1 didn’t go as we expected, since the plan we had didn’t work at all. But I’m really looking forward to tomorrow and my first Moto3 race. We will see how it goes. Our goal is to continue learning and enjoying ourselves, but I am very excited about Sunday.”