John McPhee qualifies fourth for Grand Prix of Qatar

PETRONAS Sprinta Racing rider to start from the second row, with Ayumu Sasaki set to line up in 22nd.

Positive second day for PETRONAS Sprinta Racing at Losail International Circuit. John McPhee breezed through Q1 to fight for pole position, finishing fourth to secure second row start for opening race. Ayumu Sasaki was unable to progress to Q2 and will start from the eight row.

The day started with strong winds at the Losail International Circuit for FP3 and whilst the conditions prevented from improving on their lap times from yesterday, both riders were able to make their preparations for qualifying. John McPhee finished the session in 23rd place with a 2’08.353, whith Ayumu Sasaki 26th with a best time of 2’08.838.

John McPhee took a big step forward under the Qatari night sky, securing his progression from Q1 when he posted a lap of 2’06.718 –the second fastest time of the session– with three minutes remaining. The PETRONAS Sprinta Racing rider then made his challenge for pole position, lapping even faster with a 2’06.308 that proved sufficient for fourth place on the grid.

Ayumu Sasaki missed out on Q2 after making a mistake on his final lap, which would have otherwise been fast enough to make the cut. The Japanese rider will start tomorrow’s race from 22nd on the grid, thanks to a best effort tonight of 2’07.373.

The first Moto3 race of the season takes place tomorrow night at the Losail International Circuit and it will be an 18-lap affair that gets underway at 5pm local time.

RESULTS

1. ARON CANET / KTM 2:05.883
2. LORENZO DALLA PORTA / Honda 2:06.080
3. KAITO TOBA / Honda 2:06.109
4. JOHN MCPHEE / PETRONAS Sprinta Racing 2:06.308
5. NICCOLO ANTONELLI / Honda 2:06.526
22. AYUMU SASAKI / PETRONAS Sprinta Racing 2:07.373

#71 Ayumu Sasaki

“My objective tomorrow is to stay with the front group because anything can happen. I will try to put three perfect laps together at the start and stay in the fight. I made a mistake yesterday in FP2 that basically meant I would have to go through Q1. We know that it is difficult to improve the lap time in FP3 so we just used old tyres in that session. It was windy for qualifying so it was a struggle but I tried to get into Q2, but I made another mistake on my last lap and it wasn’t possible. We still have some work to do with the set-up of the bike. I am a little disappointed with the result today but the race is tomorrow so I have to focus. I need to improve most of all in the fast corners because of the wind, and if we can do that it will be a big step.”

#10 John McPhee

“I am very happy, not just for me but for the whole PETRONAS Sprinta Racing team. To come through Q1 and then qualify on the second row in Q2 is a great result. I felt strong in the preseason tests and I thought I could be up at the front, but we struggled a little in FP2 yesterday, so it’s a great achievement to have turned the situation around. I’m looking forward to the race because my race pace has been my strong point up to now and I think it should allow me to challenge at the front in the race.”