Sky VR46 Moto3 rookie Nico Bulega has taken his first series pole position this afternoon at the Jerez MotoGP round, seeing off challenges from Brad Binder and Jorge Navarro to lead by a little over two-tenths of a second.
Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) came into the session with the fastest time of the weekend, having set a 1’46.575 in free practice three just before the lunch break.
Early in the session a number of riders had their lap times cancelled for exceeding the track limits. Riding on the curbs is permitted, but at soon as a rider goes beyond them their time is cancelled, in Jerez Turn 10 and 13 were the corners to watch.
Times were slow to improve in the session, riders setting a decent banker lap at the start of the session before returning to the pits for various setup changes. Championship leader Binder gleefully used the clear track to set some of his personal best times.
This spurred on his rivals to up their pace and Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) soon set the first 1’46 of the session. His time at the top wouldn’t last as 2015 FIM CEV Repsol Moto3 Junior World Championshion Bulega dropped to a 1’46.223, the fastest lap of the weekend.
The minutes continued to count down and it appeared as though the Italian rookie would be able to take his first pole position in just his fourth race. As his time was under a tenth from Jack Miller’s 2014 pole record, a very special lap would be needed. The entire Moto3 field headed out together with six minutes remaining to try and best Bulega’s time with the aid of a slipstream. None would be able to usurp the lanky Italian.
“I’m really happy with this result. Achieving the pole in Jerez during the first European race is an incredible result. A dream come true. I just want to thank to the whole team and my family for the great job done in these races. I had a good feeling with the bike, I was able to push hard and I'm looking forward to back on track for the race,” said Bulega, who will be looking to shake the pole position curse of Jerez, no riding having won the lightweight class race from pole position in ten years.
Francesco Bagnaia occupies the head of row two and he has Nico Antonelli and Enea Bastiannini for company, the latter running into the gravel late in the session and unable to better his time. Scotland’s John McPhee ended the day down in 25th.