Raul Fernandez is back on pole position for the sixth time this season after a well judged qualifying session for the Moto3 Portuguese Grand Prix.
The wind gusts at Portimao slowed the lap times with the Red Bull KTM Ajo riders best of 1m 48.051s slower than FP3 earlier in the day where Jaume Masia set the new record lap on Moto3’s first Portimao visit.
Fernandez spent much of his time on track solo and set his best run with over five minutes and plenty of chaos to come.
A large group of riders left it late to lave the pits, including championship leader Albert Arenas.
The Gaviota Aspar rider wanted Dennis Foggia to pull in front of him for a tow, but the Italian was looking for his own fast follow. As the group of ten gestured to suggest who should lead the way, the clock ticked down to zero and every one of them took the chequered flag and missed out on a final flying lap.
This season’s top rookie, Jeremy Alcoba had already, sensibly, set a strong lap while being chased by Arenas earlier in the session, so was unaffected by missing out to remain second. The Kommerling Gresini Honda rider was 0.185s slower than the pole time.
Third went to Ayumu Sasaki as he too held position for Red Bull KTM Tech 3, gaining a first front row start for the team.
SIC58 Squadra Corse’s Tatsuki Suzuki came from Q1 to climb up to fourth in the closing minutes.
Ai Ogura had his own troubles as he looked to make gains on Arenas on the grid.
The Honda Team Asia rider left it to his last lap of Q1 to slip into the second half of qualifying. The Japanese rider then had an out of seat save in Q2. Often shaking his head and thwarted by traffic the Japanese rider again left it to his final lap to climb to fifth, one place ahead of Arenas.
Their other main title rival, Valencia winner Tony Arbolino, found himself swamped on track aboard his Snipers entry, pulling out of fast laps and duelling for position in Q1.
After qualifying thirteenth last round and coming through for the win, the Rivacold Snipers will need to dig deep for an even bigger performance to move up in the race from 27th on the grid.
Fellow Italian Niccolo Antonelli enjoyed better fortune – moving through from the first qualifying session to claim seventh on the grid.
Dennis Foggia and his Leopard team-mate Jaume Masia made row three in eight and ninth respectively. However both riders will be serving a double long lap penalty in the race for irresponsible riding in FP2.
Gabriel Rodrigo still did enough to make it into the top ten best times despite a tumble from his Gresini.
Barry Baltus finished his last ever Moto3 qualifying session with a best ever result in 13th for CarXpert PruestelGP.
Andrea Migno didn’t set a Q2 time following an early fall. He was not alone in ending the session with no lap time as both Kaito Toba and last weekend’s polesitter Darryn Binder featured in the group who didn’t get a final run, leaving them last in the session.
John McPhee just missed out on progression to Q2. The British rider was run out of the Q1 top four in the closing stages of the session. He was fifth at the flag, so starts 19th for Petronas Sprinta Racing.
Adrian Fernandez is on the second Rivacold Snipers bike to replace the injured Filip Salac. He spent much of the practice sessions following his brother Raul around the Algarve International Circuit to learn the best racing lines and used that knowledge to claim a 20th place start on his world championship debut.