moto3 / Mir beats favourites to take career first pole

The rookie from Palma de Mallorca took a sensational first pole position, and Leopard Racing’s first of the year. Quartararo in the top five with Locatelli on the sixth row.

An extraordinary result on Saturday during official Qualifying for the Motorrad Grand Prix von Osterreich. With the sun now high in the sky and warming the 4.3 kilometer long Spielberg circuit, the scene was set for an intense battle for pole. The three Leopard Racing riders were on the pace in FP3, boosted ahead of the Qualifying session.

As happened yesterday, Mir and Quartararo were towards the front in FP3, ending in second and third place prospectively. Locatelli was in eighth and just 0.6s off the pace, it was as tight as ever. The signs suggested a good Qualifying session for the ‘triple force’ of Christian Lunderbg, but only the afternoon would reveal the truth…

In his tenth appearance on the World Championship stage (having made a wildcard appearance in 2015 at Phillip Island), Joan Mir rocketed to the first pole position of his very promising career. Brad Binder had looked the favourite to grab pole, but a brilliant 1’36.228 lap from the rookie saw him surprise everyone and return Leopard Racing to pole position.

Fabio Quartararo didn’t want to be outdone by his teammate and kept his pace high, able to match the best in the class. Thanks to a well defined and careful plan laid out by his crew chief, Quartararo was able to get the best from his KTM RC 250 GP and set a 1’36.693s for fifth.

It was a bit more difficult for Andrea Locatelli at the end of the day. After the good performance of FP3, the 19 year old from Selvino could not improve his time due to some vibrations at the rear. He managed a1’37.224, starting him on the 6th row for the GP of Austria.

Riders will take to the track at 08:40 local time (GMT +2) on Sunday for 20 minutes of Warm Up. Then at 11:00 the lights go out for the tenth round of the 2016 World Championship.

#36 Joan MIR – 1st (1’36.228):
“It seems like a dream, but it’s reality: it is the first pole position of my life! In the last race, after I qualified 18th and fell at the third curve, I was really disappointed. But I took advantage of the holidays to recharge my batteries and to work hard on the bike. The results are seen today. I am very happy, for me and for the whole team, we needed this pole position. Tomorrow will be different from those before, on this track I really have a good rhythm, I’ll try to get out front and see what we can get!”

#20 Fabio Quartararo – 5th (1’36.693):
“It was a good day, I managed to keep a good pace from the first session. In qualifying however I could not express myself better because during each run there was always a slower rider front. I am satisfied to have done a lot of laps tomorrow in the race I want to be attached to the front group.”

#55 Andrea Locatelli – 16th (1’37.224):
“It was a difficult qualifying for me, I managed my best time on the last lap. I felt a vibration in the rear and without this problem, I would be able to start higher. So we could not improve the time recorded in the morning. However, the race will be long, then we can do well.”
Moto3™ Starting Grid – Motorrad Gran Prix von Osterreich 2016:

1 – Joan MIR / SPA / Leopard Racing / KTM / 1’36.228
2 – Brad Binder / RSA / Red Bull KTM Ajo / KTM / 1’36.335
3 – Enea Bastianini / ITA / Gresini Racing / Honda / 1’36.600
5 – Fabio QUARTARARO / FRA / Leopard Racing / KTM / 1’36.693
16 – Andrea LOCATELLI / ITA / Leopard Racing / KTM / 1’37.224


Moto3™ Schedule (Local Time, GMT +2):

Sunday, 14 August:
08:40-09:00 – WarmUp
11:00 (23 Laps) – Race


Photo credit: Leopard Racing