Masia Leads Third Row For The Moto3 Charge
Honda’s fastest NSF250RW riders featured strongly during pre-season testing here two weeks ago but today’s qualifying for the 2023 season-opening Moto3 race didn’t go quite so well for them.
Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW) was the top Honda rider, ending this afternoon’s Q2 session ninth quickest, only 0.768 seconds down on pole position. That puts the 22-year-old Spaniard at the top of the third row of the grid, which isn’t necessarily a disaster, because Moto3 races usually feature huge leading packs, so as long as Masia can get away well and insert himself into that lead group he will stand a great chance of enjoying a great race tomorrow.
Kaito Toba (SIC58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW) had a promising start to his first season aboard an NSF250RW since 2019, the 22-year-old from Fukuoka completing the first three free-practice sessions sixth fastest, only 0.24 seconds off the best lap. Qualifying didn’t go quite so well, Toba ending the 15-minute Q2 outing in 11th, eight tenths of a second down on pole position.
Toba’s time was exactly matched by team-mate Riccardo Rossi (SIC58 Squadra Corse Honda NSF250RW), but because Rossi recorded his lap later he will start from 12th, which puts him one row behind Toba.
Three places further back from Rossi was Tatsuki Suzuki (Leopard Racing Honda NSF250RW), the 25-year-old from Chiba improving slightly from free practice, which he ended in 16th position, and coming through from Q1 to Q2.
Aji Mario (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) had a reasonable day, working hard towards improving his performance for the race. The 19-year-old Indonesian, who is starting his second World Championship season, had high hopes of a better grid position, but the higher track temperature during qualifying caused him issues with front grip and chatter, so he had to be content with 23rd.
Taiyo Furusato (Honda Team Asia Honda NSF250RW) had a more difficult day, falling twice, including a tumble during qualifying which prevented him from giving it his all at the end of the Q1 session. The 17-year-old from Kanoya will start his 2023 season from 26th on the grid.
Tomorrow’s Moto3 race is the first of 21 rounds this year, with the season ending at Valencia, Spain, in late November.