Sasaki & Veijer start the (title) battle of Qatar from row 2
The LIQUI MOLY Husqvarna Intact GP Moto3 duo secured the second row of the grid in the highly competitive Moto3 qualifying session at the Qatar Grand Prix on the Losail International Circuit, with Ayumu Sasaki in fourth place on the grid not only being one place ahead of his team-mate Collin Veijer, but also six positions ahead of title rival Jaume Masia.
After a crash and thus a 26th place in the first free practice session did not mark the start to the weekend that title challenger Ayumu Sasaki had imagined, the Japanese rider fought his way back into the top 8 again in the second practice session already, and from there went straight into Qualifying 2 as fourth overall. The 23-year-old, who is currently second in the world championship with a 13-point deficit, had just 15 minutes to get as far forward as possible. Sasaki finally lined up on the second row of the grid in fourth place, 0.324s behind pole position.
With the 16-lap race firmly in his sights, youngster Collin Veijer continued to work just as hard after his recent winning coup in Malaysia to do his best on the 5.38-kilometer-long Qatari race track. Once again, the 18-year-old rookie made a successful debut with third place in P2 after familiarising himself with the Losail International Circuit in the first practice session. The Dutchman also mastered the direct entry into qualifying two with his ninth place, in which he ultimately secured the fifth grid position behind his team-mate on row two.
The duo from the German racing team will contest the penultimate race of the season on Sunday at 3.00 pm (CET) with the utmost eagerness in order to lead the tightening title fight into next weekend's finale.
1. Deniz ÖNCÜ/ TUR/ KTM – 2'09.404
2. Jaume MASIA/ SPA/ HONDA – 2'09.817 (+0.413)
3. Diogo MOREIRA/ BRA/ KTM – 2'10.227 (+0.823)
26. Ayumu SASAKI/ JAP/ HUSQVARNA – 2'12.815 (+3.411)
27. Collin VEIJER/ NED/ HUSQVARNA – 2'12.848 (+3.444)
1. Jaume MASIA/ SPA/ HONDA – 2'06.794
2. Romano FENATI/ ITA/ HONDA – 2'07.340 (+0.546)
3. Collin VEIJER/ NED/ HUSQVARNA – 2'07.416 (+0.622)
8. Ayumu SASAKI/ JAP/ HUSQVARNA – 2'07.868 (+1.074)
1. Deniz ÖNCÜ/ TUR/ KTM – 2'05.843
2. David ALONSO/ SPA/ GASGAS – 2'06.049 (+0.206)
3. Daniel HOLGADO/ SPA/ KTM – 2'06.067 (+0.224)
4. Ayumu SASAKI/ JAP/ HUSQVARNA – 2'06.282 (+0.439)
9. Collin VEIJER/ NED/ HUSQVARNA – 2'06.689 (+0.846)
1. Daniel HOLGADO/ SPA/ KTM – 2'04.742
2. Diogo MOREIRA/ BRA/ KTM – 2'04.745 (+0.003)
3. Deniz ÖNCÜ/ TUR/ KTM – 2'04.894 (+0.152)
4. Ayumu SASAKI/ JAP/ HUSQVARNA – 2'05.066 (+0.324)
5. Collin VEIJER/ NED/ HUSQVARNA – 2'05.204 (+0.462)