MotoGP Misano #2: Fernandez on pole for Moto3, McPhee 20th

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Raul Fernadez claimed pole position for the second Moto3 race weekend with a last-lap dash at Misano this afternoon to triumph over Tony Arbolino’s earlier claim, Andrea Migno joins the duo on the front row of Sunday’s contest. John McPhee failed to secure a Q2 spot, finishing the day in 20th.

After a difficult morning, John McPhee found himself battling for promotion in the opening qualifying session with Arbolino, Gabriel Rodrigo and Darryn Binder for company amongst the 17-rider field.

Despite just 15-minutes on the clock and a raft of penalties already suffered this weekend, the usual policy of waiting in the garage, followed by the on-track antics of looking for a tow ensued, Carlos Tatay and Filip Salac the only riders to have set times at the halfway stage.

There was just five and half minutes left of action before the times really began to fall, Rodrigo setting the benchmark with a 1’42.608, with McPhee finding himself in fifth after his first, solo, effort just shy of the all important top-four positions. The Scot’s second attempt yielded third as the timing screens began to flash red but as the first rider to find the flag he was unable to repeat his charge, relegating him to sixth in the session as the following pack crossed the line, a result that will see him line up in 20th on the grid.

Choosing to stick with his one-chance strategy that had seen him lose out this morning, Arbolino headed out having yet to set a time by the final minute of Q1. This time luck was on the Italian’s side as a clean run promoted him to second ahead of Kaito Toba and Salac, Deniz Öncü getting the best out of his KTM to top the session with a 1’42.223.

A similar pattern followed for Q2 as again all 18 riders remained in the pits for the first four minutes before the pack entered the track en masse.

A new strategy for the SKY VR46 riders, however, saw both Celestino Vietti and Migno return to the pits after their out-lap looking as if they would be sitting tight, before immediately returning to the track in an effort to gift themselves a free run from the pursuing group. The effort paying dividends as Vietti claimed provisional pole, thanks in part to a slipstream from his teammate before the two local riders swapped places to give Migno his shot at the time attack.

With four minutes to go it was Arbolino who shot to the top, the Italian narrowly missing disaster moments later as Tatsuki Suzuki suffered a major highside at turn five on the following lap.

As the clock ticked down it was Fernandez who eventually stormed the line with a 1’41.705, just shy of his weekend’s best, to edge out Arbolino for Pole ahead of impressive final efforts from Migno and Albert Arenas. Vietti and Romano Fenati round out the first two rows of Sunday’s grid as Toba, Suzuki, Jaume Masia and Jeremy Alcoba conclude the top ten.

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