Honda riders monopolised the top four positions in Moto3 qualifying, the NSF250RW providing the perfect balance of horsepower and handling around this wonderfully challenging racetrack.
The man who took pole position was Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3 Honda NSF250RW), by just 0.021 seconds from the up-and-coming Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW). Mugello winner Tony Arbolino (VEN Snipers Honda NSF250RW) completed the front row in third place, with Tatsuki Suzuki (Sic58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW) fourth quickest to lead the second row. The fastest nine men were separated by 0.850 seconds.
Rodrigo started from the front row at COTA and Mugello, but this is the first time the 22-year-old Argentine star has been on pole this year. Former Red Bull MotoGP Rookie Ogura’s performance is especially impressive because he missed the last race through injuries sustained during last month’s French Grand Prix, where the 19-year-old rookie from Tokyo qualified on the front row for the first time.
Eighteen-year-old Italian Arbolino was delighted to make the front row for the fourth time this season, two weeks after taking pole and his maiden win at Mugello. Suzuki’s fourth place was also very welcome, especially since the 21-year-old from Chiba only missed the front row by 0.018 seconds. Suzuki has started from the front row once this year, when he qualified second at Jerez and finished second, behind team-mate Niccolo Antonelli (Sic58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW).
Antonelli had a torrid time in qualifying today, falling twice in the 15-minute session. The second time he fell he accidentally took down fellow Honda rider Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW), who as a result ended the session ninth. The 21-year-old Italian currently stands just three points behind series leader Aron Canet, who was fifth quickest today.
Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda NSF250RW) qualified two places ahead of Dalla Porta in seventh, his best grid slot of the year so far. French GP winner John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW) was tenth quickest.
Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) has had a challenging two days of practice and qualifying at Barcelona-Catalunya, ending today in 27th place. The 19-year-old from Fukuoka started this season with a stunning victory in Qatar but has yet to return to the podium, despite some thrilling fights through the pack.
Tomorrow’s racing marks the 70th birthday of MotoGP. Motorcycling’s World Championships began in 1949, the first races taking place at the Isle of Man TT, with the 350cc race on June 13 and the 250cc and 500cc races on June 17.