05.10.2019 | news
Challenging qualifying day for McPhee and Sasaki
PETRONAS Sprinta Racing Moto3 riders qualify for Thai GP in P13 and P18 after challenging day at Buriram
PETRONAS Sprinta Racing Moto3 riders John McPhee and Ayumu Sasaki had a challenging qualifying day at the Thailand Grand Prix, finishing in P13 and P18 respectively at the Buriram International Circuit. Despite both riders failing to achieve their targets, there is still plenty of potential for the PETRONAS Sprinta Racing pairing heading into tomorrow’s 22-lap race.
McPhee made a strong start to the morning by ending a wet FP3 in second place and backed it up by progressing from Q1 to Q2 in second as well. Able to show his pace on used tyres early in the Q2 session, a small mistake dropped him down the order at the end and saw him finish 13th overall. Setting a time of 1min 43.398secs and finishing the day only 0.8 seconds from pole position, it means he starts tomorrow’s race from the fifth row with strong potential to be in the podium battle.
Sasaki went into qualifying knowing that a penalty from yesterday’s FP1 meant that he would be starting from the back of the grid, and was keen to instead use the session to ensure he was in the best possible position for tomorrow's race. Lining up in 28th despite qualifying 18th with a time of 1min 44.251secs, a good result is still possible in the race on a track where slipstream is key.
McPhee and Sasaki will get tomorrow’s 22-lap Thailand Grand Prix underway at 1100 local time (1200 Malaysian time) at the Buriram International Circuit.
“It was a strange day for us with the wet start to the morning, but it was nice to get some track time in the rain and I felt strong in those conditions. I went from Q1 to Q2 with no problems and was able to set a banker lap on a used tyre that was good enough to put me into P2. When I stuck in a new tyre it was typical Moto3 with everyone waiting until the last moment to go out. When I finally went with just one or two other riders, I made a small mistake early on in the lap, and I didn’t want to keep pushing with a big group closing me down. It was unfortunate to drop from P2 to P13, but to set one lap is very different from maintaining the rhythm for the whole race, and I feel like we’re in a good position to fight tomorrow. It’ll be one big battle because of the long straights at Buriram, but I have good enough pace to be in the fight at the front.”
“I faced today with no pressure because of the penalty, although it took a little bit of time to get used to dry conditions again after the rain this morning. I wanted to complete one good lap, but I knew that it wasn’t crucial. I tried to ride alone, and when I went at the end of the session I didn’t have a slipstream from other riders and it wasn’t a great lap time. I’ll start from last tomorrow, but I think we’re ready for the race. We’ll focus on warm-up and have a good session, and then see what happens. Anything is possible, and the race will have a big pack, so I need to try and overtake as many as possible in the opening laps and see where it leaves us.”