Moto3 Assen: Antonelli takes surprise late pole

Niccolo Antonelli moved to the top of the timesheets as the session ended with a record lap powering him to pole position ahead of the Assen Moto3 Grand Prix.

Moto3 Assen: Antonelli takes surprise late pole

Niccolo Antonelli became the first repeat polesitter of the season as he will once again lead the grid on Sunday for the Assen Moto3 Grand Prix.

Following on from his pole in Texas, the Italian had been off the radar up until the final moments of qualifying, when the Honda rider popped up at the top of the timesheets with a record lap of 1m 41.232s aboard his SIC58 Squadra Corse bike.

Until Antonelli’s lap came out of nowhere, it had been Kaito Toba leading the way - the Honda Team Asia rider didn’t get under the flag in time for a final attack but only slipped to second, and was just 0.144s slower.

The final slot on the all Honda front row went to the in-form Tony Arbolino (VNE Snipers), who had topped FP3, as he climbed from seventeenth to third on his final run.

Tatsuki Suzuki was in the mix with his team-mate and will sit directly behind him on the grid after securing fourth. Lining up next to him is the top rookie in qualifying; Celestino Vietti; after he climbed to fifth in the closing stages for Sky Racing Team VR46. Vietti was also the top qualifying KTM on the grid.

Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) will be looking to build on his front row start and top six finish in Catalunya - the Japanese rider pushed his way up to sixth.

Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PruestalGP) had been out to start the session first but it didn’t pay off - he slipped to seventh as the chequered flag waved.

The current main championship contenders will be sat next to each other when the grid forms - Leopard’s Lorenzo Dalla Porta sits second in the overall standings but needed to find a way to Q2 - he came through top and then built on his track experience to claim eighth, just ahead of the leader in the title hunt, Aron Canet, who starts ninth for the Sterilgarda Max Racing Team.

Gresini’s Gabriel Rodrigo had an exciting session, surviving a huge double scare through the final chicane, and still had enough for a top ten qualifying performance but is the highest placing of the riders needing to serve a penalty, so he will give up six places come race day.

The first to benefit will be Ayumu Sasaki ( Petronas Sprinta Racing) who was just behind on the timesheets and qualified 11th .

Kazuki Masaki was the only faller in Q2, hitting the gravel as the chequered flag was raised, leaving him unable to progress from 15th.

Can Oncu qualified 17th but has a six place penalty to serve for his part in the Catalunya Moto3 pile-up. Alonso Lopez qualified in 18th after progressing to Q2, but he too faces a six place grid penalty, this time for riding irresponsibly in FP2 and causing Canet’s crash.

A fall halfway through Q1 saw John McPhee unable to progress further up the grid, he improved when his mechanics got him back on track but could only manage 8th in the session, which equates to a 22nd place start - his worst qualifying performance of the season.

Darryn Binder left the pits incredibly late in Q1, the plan didn’t benefit the CIP Green Power rider, he fills 25th position.

Stefano Nepa returns to the paddock as a permanent replacement for Vincente Perez at Reale Avintia - he could only manage a best good enough for 27th

Tom Booth-Amos was also penalised for his FP3 conduct, a twelve place penalty pushes him from 28th to the back of the grid on race day. The Brit crashed during the session too, he walked away from his chicane spill rubbing his collarbone.

Moto3 boasts an extra rider in Assen as Netherlands based Ryan Van De Lagemaat is added to the entry list as a wildcard , he qualified for his home grand prix 29th. 

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