Niccolo Antonelli (Sic58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW) took his second Moto3 pole position of the year at Assen today, topping a qualifying session dominated by Honda NSF250RW riders.
The front row for tomorrow’s Moto3 race is all-Honda and the first man on the second row is also on an NSF250RW.
Twenty-three-year-old Antonelli grabbed pole on his final lap of the 15-minute Q2 outing, bettering 19-year-old Japanese rider Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) by 0.144 seconds. Toba and team-mate Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) are wearing a special livery this weekend, marking Honda’s big anniversary. The, red, silver and gold paint echoes the colours Honda used in the 1960s, when the company was successful in every Grand Prix class.
The last man on the front row is Tony Arbolino (Snipers Team Honda NSF250RW), who won his first Grand Prix at the start of the month in Italy. The 18-year-old Italian was just 0.013 seconds behind Toba.
Antonelli’s team-mate Tatsuki Suzuki (Sic58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW) was fourth quickest, a mere 0.071 seconds short of the front row. Tomorrow the 21-year-old from Chiba will aim for his first podium result since he finished second at Jerez, behind Antonelli.
Ogura also had an excellent qualifying session, good enough to put him on the second row of the grid, which should allow him to get away with the lead pack tomorrow. And he was less than four tenths of a second off pole.
Despite his DNF at Barcelona-Catalunya two weeks ago, Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) still holds second place in the Moto3 points chase. The 22-year-old Italian didn’t have the best of times in free practice here, so he had to come through Q1 to make it into Q2, ending the session eighth fastest for a third-row start.
Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW) was was 11th fastest, but with tenth-fastest Gabriel Rodrigo (Kommerling Gresini Moto3 Honda NSF250RW) serving a back-of-the-grid penalty, the Japanese will start from tenth position, leading the fourth row. Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) will start from the other side of row four. The 21-year-old will have to work hard if he wants to repeat his victory at the last race; although he did achieve that success from tenth on the grid!
At the end of Assen race day the paddock will pack up in a hurry to travel to the Sachsenring for next weekend’s German Grand Prix.