Kaito Toba will lead the Asia Talent Team charge from the second row, Atiratphuvapat and Masaki just behind but inside the top ten.
The clouds came and went at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, conditions changing between hot and cold throughout the day. Conditions weren’t the only change, the circuit running a new layout as well. The final sector is now much tighter and more challenging, perfect for testing the skills of the Moto3 riders.
Both sessions offered riders a chance to go fast. Kaito Toba set the fastest time of the Asia Talent Team, a 1’54.731 is the first session. This puts him at the head of the second row and just over half a second off pole setter Alonso Lopez. Times are tight with all of the top six able to run in the 1’54s. With Ramirez starting down the field, this gives Toba the perfect chance to attack and make up points.
Nakarin Atiratphuvapat surprised almost everyone by setting a 1’54.792 in the second session to take fifth place, by far his best Qualifying position of the year. His time from session one to session two dropped by almost half a second, one of the biggest improvements in the top ten.
Of the top ten, Kazuki Masaki, who will start eighth, was the biggest improver between sessions. The Japanese start dropped 0.8s off his time to take ninth spot on the grid, ahead of championship leader Marcos Ramirez.
In 16th place, Andi Farid starts on the edge of the points and will be looking to attack from the word go. He’s ahead of a number of proven podium finishers so scoring points is by no means a guarantee. Battling with the likes of Jeremy Alcoba and Stefano Manzi will certainly teach him a trick or two.
Unfortunately Ayumu Sasaki was unable to join his teammates in the top ten, qualifying a disappointing 21st position. There’s a lot of work to do for the Japanese rider, but he loves a challenge.
Sunday’s two races offer a big chance for all five of the Asia Talent Team riders, for the likes of Toba it gives the chance to close the championship gap, for Atiratphuvapat it gives the chance to assert himself on the world stage and for Sasaki it offers a chance of redemption after a tough Saturday.