Moto3: Antonelli takes debut victory for Simoncelli team

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Niccolo Antonelli has handed the Simoncelli racing team their first ever win in Grand Prix racing, with a perfect day for the squad set up in tribute of the late Marco Simoncelli as teammate Tetsuki Suzuki took second place to hand the squad a one-two. They were joined on the front row by Team Sky rider Celestino Vietti, with the rookie taking a strong debut podium of his own.

Antonelli took control of Sunday’s race to deliver a tactical win come the chequered flag, in an incident-strewn race that saw many of his title rivals fall by the wayside. Marcos Ramirez, Romano Fenati, Jaume Masia and Raul Fernandez all failed to finish.

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It was a disappointing day for the Brits, however, with John McPhee coming home in 12th while Tom Booth Amos crashed out. Speaking afterwards, McPhee said: “So far, we haven’t been getting the results we wanted this season. We suffered again today, but in a totally different area to where we had focused this weekend. At the start I was able to fight and overtake riders, but on lap seven I noticed something strange with the rear on the back straight after passing another rider on the last corner. Maybe it was a puncture, but I don’t really know what happened.

“I continued riding and after around five laps I got back to the pace I had before. However, by then I had lost contact with the leading group and had to battle with the riders in the second group. The positive thing is that when I felt good I was able to ride more aggressively. I was able to overtake riders on the brakes and get in the fight, which I hadn’t been able to do up until now. There is still work to be done, but we are going in the right direction.”

Dalla Porta takes top spot in qualifying

Lorenzo Dalla Porta has taken the top spot for tomorrow’s Spanish Grand Prix, out-qualifying the home stars to end the day a mere 0.004 ahead of Tatsuki Suzuki at the Jerez Circuit. The pair are joined on the front row by Team Sky rider Celestino Vietti, with the Italian coming home in third to keep Spain off the front row.

There’s nothing for the local fans to cheer for on row two either, with yesterday’s fastest man Niccolo Antonelli leading fellow Dennis Foggia and Argentinian Gabriel Rodrigo to leave Aron Canet the first of the Spaniards in seventh, ahead of Marcos Ramierez and Albert Arenas.

John McPhee was 14th, missing his chance to get in a fast lap time but comfortable that he’s got the pace for tomorrow’s race, while fellow Brit Tom Booth Amos will start from 30th. Speaking after the session, McPhee was ubeat about his chances.

“I have a better pace than I thought. Everything is always very tight at Jerez and it is important to gain a advantage over other riders. In FP3 we tried some different things. I wasn’t too comfortable on the bike, although I set some good lap times. In Q2 I only had two or three opportunities for a hot lap, and unfortunately today I wasn’t able to put together a perfect one. I made a mistake at turn one on my last lap with a new tyre; my second and third sector were fast, but not enough to recover what I’d lost through that mistake. We know that there will be a big battle tomorrow. Luckily I’ve been competitive in practice, so we can work on that to get the best possible result.”

Antonelli and Suzuki make it a SIC58 one-two

Niccolo Antonelli has topped the first day of Moto3 action at this weekend’s Spanish Grand Prix, finishing ahead of teammate Tatsuki Suzuki to make it a one-two for the SIC58 Squadra Corse team at the Jerez circuit. Some of only a handful of riders to improve their times in the evening as high winds picked up, they lead Raul Fernandez on the Angel Nieto KTM.

Brit John McPhee had a strong day too despite an FP2 crash, topping the day’s first session before coming home in fourth in the afternoon – and on the combined times. Fellow Brit Tom Booth-Amos was less successful, ending the day 31st.

Speaking afterwards, McPhee said: “I think it’s been a very good start to the weekend. Jerez is always a circuit where I really enjoy riding. Everyone is very fast and it’s difficult to stay on top. I was surprised that I finished FP1 in first place, because I didn’t expect to have such a strong pace. In FP2 we tried to do a long run with the hard tyre; I was working well and running a good pace, but then I made a mistake and crashed. I was fortunate enough to be able to remount and I am very happy with the team, who worked very quickly to fix the bike so that I could go out again during the session. I could only complete one lap at the end, improving but not having time to show my true potential in the second session. Nevertheless it has been a good day overall and we hope to continue improving tomorrow.”

Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer