Moto3: Arbolino converts pole into his debut win

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Tony Arbolino has converted pole position at his home Italian Grand Prix into his debut race victory, leading Lorenzo Dalla Porta and Jaume Masia. The Italian was one of a handful of riders to remain in the battle for the win right until the end, but took the top spot in the end by a mere 0.078 across the three riders.

Niccolo Antonelli and Dennis Foggia came home in fourth and fifth, just ahead of Brit John McPhee, who was content with his finishing position after making the run through the pack from 18th on the grid.

More from the Italian Grand Prix

McPhee’s fellow Brit Tom Booth-Amos was left trying to find the positives from the weekend after crashing out of the race – but has plenty of points to be positive about after findihng a whopping two seconds per lap during the hot and fast battle.

Arbolino on pole position in Mugello

Home hero Tony Arbolino will start the Italian Grand Prix from his third career pole at Mugello, setting a stunning new lap record in qualifying to end Saturday nearly seven tenths clear of the competition. That opposition is led by Gabriel Rodrigo, 0.673 down in second, with Lorenzo Dalla Porta the last man within a second of pole to lock out the front row.

There was drama for both Tatsuki Suzuki and teammate Niccolo Antonelli as they’d left left pitlane before the lights went green, though. The SIC58 duo were demoted from fifth and sixth (just behind Andrea Migno) to 9th and 18th respectively.

However, it was a disaster for British rider John McPhee, who made amistake with his strategy and paid the price for it with a 17th place start position after Niccolo Antonelli was penalised ahead of him.

“It’s not been the day that we had been hoping for. I had been in the top five all weekend and it was difficult to choose the correct strategy for qualifying, but I only had one set of tyres to use in the session and I had to be smart when picking the time to go out. That was the reason why I only did one run at the end of qualifying. When I left the pits there were six minutes left. I tried to ride alone, but on two laps I had another rider in my way, so I was never able show my true potential.

“Despite this, I feel confident about the race tomorrow and strong on the bike. It’s not the best position to be starting from, but we know that there will be a large group in the race here and I would like to fight to be at the front. I feel that I have the necessary pace to get there and that I can do it on the opening laps of the race. The main objective is to have a successful start and first lap.”

Suzuki takes top spot despite incident with Lopez

Tatsuki Suzuki has topped the opening day of track action at the Italian Grand Prix, taking the SIC58 machine to the top spot at Mugello ahead of an impressive performance from wildcard and Italian championship regular Kevin Zannoni, with Tony Arbolino making it two locals and three Italian teams on the front row in third.

Niccolo Antonelli took the second SIC58 Honda to fourth, just ahead of French Grand Prix winner John McPhee, after the Petronas Honda rider spent much of the session working on pace and not outright speed.


However, there could be trouble looming for fastest man Suzuki later, after an incident with Alonso Lopez on the start-finish straight as the chequered flag went out, with the Japanese rider pushing the Spaniard out onto the grass.

Speaking afterwards, McPhee said: “It’s good to come to Mugello and finish the first day in the top five. We saw at Le Mans that I was very strong, and in the last four sessions of that weekend I was the fastest rider. That’s why going fast from the off, at a totally different track like Mugello, has been very good. We wanted to try a couple of things in FP2 that we eventually decided against, so for the last run all we did was put on the new tyres and try to set a good lap time.

“I did it by riding alone, so I lost a lot of time on the straight with the strong wind; that’s ok, because it means that with a slipstream I would have set an even better lap time. Tomorrow we will continue working in the same way. Qualifying will be important, but I feel very good on the bike and the team are working very well.”

McPhee confident that Le Mans form will continue to Mugello

French Grand Prix race winner John McPhee says he’s going into this weekend’s Italian round of the Moto3 world championship full of confidence, boosted not only by his success last time out in Le Mans but also by a successful test in Barcelona in between rounds.

Looking to kickstart his title aspirations after a steady start to the season, the Petronas Honda rider says that he’s confident that he’ll be able to maintain his form into this weekend’s round at Mugello.

“We arrive at Mugello full of confidence and ready to enjoy another Grand Prix. I achieved the first win for the team last time out so that’s shown everyone what we’re capable of. I think we are very strong heading to Mugello and last week’s test underlines that.

“I honestly think that we can be as competitive as we were last time out. It’s a unique circuit, but its fast and flowing corners suit me much better than Le Mans, for example. This makes me even more positive about the weekend. I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do in Italy.”

However, it might be a more difficult weekend for fellow Brit Tom Booth Amos, as the CIP Moto KTM rider recovers from surgery. Struggling in recent races with compartment syndrome in his leg that left him unable to properly change gear in the closing stages of the race in Le Mans, he had an operation last Thursday in Barcelona to relieve the issue.

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Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer