Ayumu Sasaki to start from fourth row at Jerez

Ayumu Sasaki and John McPhee will occupy 11th and 14th on the grid respectively, for the Spanish GP.

The PETRONAS Sprinta Racing Moto3 riders will start tomorrow’s Spanish GP from the fourth and fifth rows of the grid, after their exploits in qualifying this Saturday afternoon. Ayumu Sasaki was 11th fastest in the decisive Q2 session, with John McPhee finishing in 14th.

In the last Free Practice session of the weekend, the pair made their way directly into Q2 by improving on their Friday lap times. Sasaki was second in FP3, with a best time of 1:46.105 set on his final lap, while McPhee was fifth thanks to a 1:46.133. This is the second time that the duo have both gone directly to Q2 this season, after also doing so in Argentina.

Whilst Sasaki opted to leave his flying lap with new tyres until the closing moments of Q2, McPhee decided on two more time attacks in search of a better spot on the grid. The different strategies worked out best for the Sasaki, who clocked a 1:46.668 for 11th place. McPhee enjoyed the most success during his first stint, in which he managed a 1:47.130. He will start directly behind his teammate on Sunday, in 14th.

The 22-lap Moto3 Spanish Grand Prix gets underway at 11am local time tomorrow morning.


#71 Ayumu Sasaki
“We couldn’t find a good pace in our first stint in Q2, so we came back in to put on new tyres. My plan was to be able to complete two laps with fresh rubber, but I waited too long and we knew that in the end we would only have time to complete one flying lap. I was a little nervous because it became an ‘all or nothing’ situation. At the beginning of the lap I was almost alone, but then I encountered several other riders and I lost a lot of time on the last sector. We were unlucky with that, but I’ve also been struggling with the new qualifying format in these opening races of the season. I have to keep working on this aspect so that the races become somewhat easier. Even so, starting from 11th is not a bad result for us if we want to be in the fight tomorrow, so now we have to focus on having a good race.”

#17 John McPhee
“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 1 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.”