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MotoGP Valencia #2: Maiden Moto3 pole for Binder

Darryn Binder scored his debut Moto3 pole position at Valencia this afternoon beating Kaito Toba and Raul Fernandez to head the opening qualifying at the Ricardo Tormo Circuit.

Title rivals Albert Arenas and Ai Ogura remain inseparable as they concluded the session in sixth and seventh with John McPhee frustrated to finish 16th.

Spots of rain troubled the start of Moto3 qualifying, despite the track initially running dry. Early drama saw Gabriel Rodrigo, Ricardo Rossi and Carlos Tatay crash in the opening minutes, the latter pair able to recover their bikes to the pits with the unlucky Argentinian left in the hands of the marshals, his session done before it had even begun.


Having headed out as soon as the green light illuminated, Alonso Lopez led the session with a 1’41.889, the changing conditions proving tricky for the riders behind as they hedged their bets with tyre choices. Tatay again succumbing to the conditions on his second out-lap as rain started to affect certain sectors.

Three minutes to go and McPhee advanced the standings with the fastest time so far, a 1’41.852, before the Scot set about improving once again, Arenas answering the Petronas’ challenge by over a second moments later with Ryusei Yamanaka and Lopez joining the top-four with one minute left to run.

A highside for Dennis Foggia left the Leopard rider floundering in 10th as Darryn Binder hit the top in the closing seconds. McPhee claimed the honours as the flag dropped before Arenas and Rossi answered with equally strong 1’39 pace. The South African was relegated to the edge of the promotion zone but with no other challenges in the mix, the quartet remained safe and through to the qualifying shootout.

The final 15 minutes began with frantic activity, the field looking to take immediate advantage of the dry track in case the rain returned. Tatsuki Suzuki came out on top after the opening shots were fired with Ogura taking charge on his second flying lap, Toba sitting third with 10 minutes left on the clock.

Romano Fenati, Deniz Öncü and Arenas held second row positions as the session hit the halfway stage, Tony Arbolino and McPhee down in 15th and 17th respectively with the track falling silent ahead of the final runs.

Five riders returned to the track with four minutes to go before the remaining pack appeared en-masse and the action really kicked off. Binder set the benchmark with a 1’38.286, three-tenths faster than Ogura’s early best to claim the provisional pole with Toba advancing to second ahead of Raul Fernandez as the standings began to settle.

Jaume Masia and Andrea Migno fought off Arenas to head the second row with Ogura demoted to seventh as the flag came out. With no further challenges, Binder secured his debut pole, Suzuki and Celestino Vietti sitting eighth and ninth as Niccolò Antonelli finished 10th. Öncü and Yuki Kunii joined the Italian on row four with Arbolino, Fenati and Alcoba, McPhee, Sergio Garcia and Rossi concluding the top 18.

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