Honda riders dominated Moto3 qualifying, taking pole position at Mugello for the third year in a row. Honda’s also dominated in depth, with NSF250RW riders monopolizing the front row and filling seven of the top ten grid slots.
Fastest of all was 18-year-old Italian Tony Arbolino (Snipers Team Honda NSF250RW) who went fastest in the final seconds of the session, demoting Argentinian Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3 Honda NSF250RW) into second, while compatriot Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) chased Arbolino to lift himself into third to take the last spot on the front row.
This was Arbolino’s first pole of the year and tomorrow he will chase his first podium since April’s Argentine GP. Dalla Porta’s third place on the grid is his third of the year and an important achievement because the 21-year-old Italian currently stands second in the championship fight, so he needs a strong result here to reduce the points gap to leader Aron Canet, who will start from eighth on the grid
Tatsuki Suzuki (Sic58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW) and Niccolo Antonelli (Sic58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW) led the early stages of the session and ended the session fifth and sixth fastest times. However, they were penalized for entering the track at the start of the session while the pit-lane red light was still showing. The 21-year-old from Chiba and the 23-year-old Italian will now start the race from ninth and 18th on the grid.
Those penalties moved Romano Fenati (Snipers Team Honda NSF250RW) and Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) onto the second row of the grid in fifth and sixth positions. Toba, the 19-year-old from Fukuoka, stands fifth in the championship chase, just behind Antonelli, after several superb rides, including victory in the season-opening Qatar GP.
Marcos Ramirez (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) completes the third row in ninth position.
John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW), winner of the last Moto3 race at Le Mans, didn’t have a great afternoon, ending up on the sixth row. His team-mate Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSR250RW) heads the seventh row.
This is the biggest weekend of the career of Gerry Salim (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) so far: the 22-year-old Indonesian is making his Grand Prix debut, replacing Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) who is missing one race due to injuries sustained at Le Mans. Salim, who contests the Moto2 European Championship for the Astra Honda Racing Team, has much to learn and is working hard. He ended qualifying on row nine.
Tomorrow’s races take place one day before the 60th anniversary of Honda’s very first World Championship race: the 1959 Isle of Man Ultra-Lightweight TT, which took place on June 3, 1959.