Moto3: Bulega on pole as champion-elect Mir struggles

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Nicolo Bulega will start tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix from pole position, taking the top spot for only the second time of his career in qualifying today at Motegi – while Moto3 champion-elect Joan Mir will start far from the front row after suffering a nightmare weekend so far.

Bulega finished the session an easy quarter of a second clear of his nearest opposition, with Red Bull KTM rider Niccolo Antonelli a surprise runner-up, firing in a late lap to demote Aron Canet to third.

Marco Bezzecchi was a surprise third on the CIP Mahindra machine, making the most of the wet conditions, ahead of Enea Bastianini and championship challenger Romano Fenati. Jorge Martin, Gabriel Rodrigo, Manuel Pagliani and Andrea Migno rounded out the top ten.

However, it was a difficult day for Joan Mir, who goes into tomorrow’s race needing only to finish second to secure the championship with three races in hand. Struggling in the rain all weekend, he’ll start 20th when his six-place penalty from the last race in Aragon is combined with his disappointing 14th place finish.

It was a difficult day for wet weather specialist John McPhee as well, coming home in 18th place after struggling all day to find feeling from the British Talent Team Honda machine.

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Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer