Honda NSF250RW riders dominated Moto3 practice and qualifying at Portimao today, with the three fastest riders in this afternoon’s crucial 15-minute Q2 qualifying all aboard Honda’s state-of-the-art 250cc single-cylinder machine.
Fastest of them all was Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team Honda NSF250RW) who is enjoying his first season with Honda and now his first pole position with the company. Lap times were as close as ever, the 25-year-old Italian, just 0.149 seconds faster than Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW). Third quickest was Jeremy Alcoba (Team Gresini Moto3 Honda NSF250RW), a further 0.130 seconds down.
Third fastest should put the 19-year-old Spaniard on the front row for tomorrow’s race, but in fact Alcoba will have to start from pit lane, due to a sanction for an incident during the Doha GP two weeks ago.
Gabriel Rodrigo (Team Gresini Moto3 Honda NSF250RW) should have done better than fifth fastest today, but he was knocked down by a rival during the all-important final minutes of the session, so he has to be happy with a second-row start.
The experienced John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW) qualified sixth, but the 26-year-old Briton will also start the race from pit lane, because he was involved in that incident with Alcoba.
Darryn Binder (Petronas Sprinta Racing Honda NSF250RW) qualified eighth, which should put him on row three, but with Alcoba and McPhee removed from the grid the 23-year-old South African will start from the second row. Binder was one of the stars of the opening two races at Losail, finishing both on the podium and now standing second in the points chase. Binder will definitely be in the battle for victory tomorrow.
Andi Farid Izdihar (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) made a huge effort in qualifying this afternoon. The 23-year-old Indonesian rider finished the three free practice sessions 25th fastest but staged an excellent renaissance in the Q1 outing. Izdihar was fourth fastest during the final stages of the session, which would have promoted him to the Q2 session for the fastest riders in the class. However, in the final moments of Q1 he was demoted to fifth, missing Q2 promotion by just eight thousandths of a second!
Nineteenth fastest in combined timings, penalties to other riders promote Izdihar to 17th, on the sixth row of the grid.
Team-mate Yuki Kunii (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) scored the first Grand Prix points of his career at the last race at Losail, so the 18-year-old from Setagaya was hoping for his best grid position here. However, it wasn’t to be. Kunii finished Q1 a very close sixth fastest, which will put him alongside his team-mate on the grid. The youngster is still confident he can make it into the top 15 points-scoring positions tomorrow, so long as he can get a good start and get away with a fast group of riders.
Xavier Artigas (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) will start from seventh and Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW) from 11th.