moto3 / Tough qualifying for Leopard Racing duo in Japan

The leader of the Moto3 class, Joan Mir, qualified a lowly 14th but tomorrow will break out of seventh row due to the penalties received in the post race of Aragon. His team-mate Livio Loi will close the fifth row.

The second day of the 2017 Japan Grand Prix opened again with bad weather, with low temperatures (air 14°C / 16°C ground) and rain insisting on upsetting Moto3 team strategies. The two Leopard Racing Team riders go straight to the pit lane to look for the feeling with their respective Honda NSF250RWs and both succeed in improving their performance in FP3: Livio Loi returned to hitting speeds of 213.6 km/h but it was chiefly Joan Mir in the lead looking to make a leap forward, improving his time by over a second and a half since Friday and placing himself in fifth overall as the build up to Sunday’s race continues.

But the attention of everyone was already fixed at 12:35 local time as the flag dropped for Qualifying. Finally without the rainfall but with the same humid and insidious track for the cadet category to attempt to navigate. Mir and Loi entered the track and were determined to give their best. Above all, the Belgian was significantly better than during practices and closed in16th final position; two positions ahead, despite the poor grip was Joan Mir, who already knew he had to leave 6 positions behind in the grid (20th) as a result of penalties received in the post race of Aragon. The Majorcan rider has never started so far back this season, which he has dominated from the beginning, and he himself realises he will have to dig deep tomorrow. Tomorrow Joan will play his first match-point in the championship hunt: will MiracleMir succeed in taking the title at Honda’s home? Stay tuned …

The protagonists of the Moto3 class will return tomorrow morning at 8:40 am for 20 minutes of Warm Up, anticipating the 2017 season’s fifteenth race, which will kick off at 11:00 local time.


#36 Joan MIR – 14th (2’10.580):
“I’m a little disappointed, because after the good feelings of FP3, I came back to no grip like yesterday and could not open the gas as I wanted. Starting behind is a risk because the other riders have nothing to lose. Now we will analyze the data and try to find a good set-up for tomorrow’s warm-up and make us ready for the race: with a competitive bike here you can overcome and get right ahead!”

#11 Livio LOI – 16th (2’10.877):
“We’ve improved a lot in qualifying: the afternoon feelings were clearly better for me. As the track went dry, I felt my sensation on the bike growing; we still have to work on the front to make a further step, hoping in these conditions even tomorrow.”




Moto3™ Qualifying Classification:

1 – N. Bulega / ITA / Sky Racing VR46 / KTM / 2’09.320
2 – N. Antonelli / ITA / Red Bull KTM Ajo / KTM / 2’09.592
3 – A. Canet / SPA / Estrella Galicia 0,0 / Honda / 2’09.708
14 – J. Mir / SPA / Leopard Racing / Honda / 2’10.580
16 – L. Loi / BEL / Leopard Racing / Honda / 2’10.877


Moto3™ Provisional Grid:

15 – L. Loi / BEL / Leopard Racing / Honda /
20 – J. Mir / SPA / Leopard Racing / Honda /


Moto3™ Schedule (Local Time, GMT +9):

Sunday, October 15th:
08:40-09:00 – WarmUp
11:00 (20 Laps) – Race


Photo credit: Leopard Racing