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MotoGP Valencia: McPhee splashes his way to Moto3 pole

Proving his strength in the wet conditions once again, John McPhee took his first pole position of 2020 after an unscheduled shower soaked the Valencia circuit for Moto3 qualifying.

Late-session crashes provided further chaos as multiple times were deleted due to yellow flags with Celestino Vietti and Albert Arenas the eventual winners of the standings reshuffle. The two championship-rivals joining McPhee on the front row ahead of Sunday’s European GP.

Despite dry conditions expected for the rest of the day, the rain flags came out as soon as Q1 began, a lucky save for Arenas bringing even more drama in the opening seconds as the 17 Moto3 bikes were quick to get out on track hoping to capitalise on the 15-minute session’s best conditions.


Ai Ogura rose immediately to the top with Gabriel Rodrigo, Arenas and Dennis Foggia for company while frustrations for Jaume Masia saw the Leopard rider floundering down in 15th and over three seconds away from the time needed for Q2 promotion.

As the rain increased, the riders fell, Rodrigo down twice on the same lap - at turns 11 and 14 - with teammates Barry Baltus and Jason Dupasquier colliding and Jeremy Alcoba also falling within a chaotic matter of moments, the yellow flags cancelling out any potential fast laps in progress and ensuring the opening times stood.

The 18-strong field tiptoed around the sodden circuit as Q2 got underway before Ricardo Rossi set the early benchmark with a 1’54.973 from Alonso Lopez and Arenas. As the times shuffled, Lopez hit the top with a low ’53 from Darryn Binder and McPhee, before the Max rider lost out at turn four on his next attempt.

A 1’52.514 gave McPhee the provisional pole with five minutes remaining. The Scot sitting three-tenths clear of Arenas and Vietti as Sergio Garcia and Carlos Tatay succumbed to conditions, the yellow flags flying once again.

The closing minutes saw Raul Fernandez look to challenge but McPhee was far from done, the pair battling as the timing screens flashed red in anticipation before the Spaniard lost time in the final sectors. The Petronas rider continued to push, further advancing his time to 1’52.252 as Lopez and Vietti both went down in the final minute, the waved yellows again preventing much progress from the late-charging pack.

Safe at the front, McPhee secured his first pole position of the 2020 season from Vietti and Arenas, Lopez, Rossi and Sergio Garcia lining up on the second row for tomorrow’s 23-lap race with Binder, Fernandez and Kaito Toba behind on row three - the #25 losing out after his second-place time was deleted due to yellow flag infringements.

Further deletions placed Ogura in the middle of row four with Andrea Migno and Rodrigo either side for company, while Tatay, Foggia, Romano Fenati, Filip Salac, Tony Arbolino and Yuki Kunii rounded out the final frustrated top 18.

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