Moto3: Bezzecchi puts Mahindra in Top 4 at Motegi qualifying, Arenas crashes out
A wet Motegi saw CIP's Marco Bezzecchi claim his best Saturday result of fourth place, finishing a mere 0.4777s behind pole-sitter Sky Racing's Nicolo Bulega.
The Italian showed solid Top 10 pace all-through the practice sessions, with teammate Manuel Pagliani even topping the third practice session.
Finishing in ninth, Pagliani was the last of the riders to be within a second of Bulega's time, as the two CIP riders put Mahindra inside the Top 10.
Peugeot's Jakub Kornfeil was the next best in 20th, who struggled to find the right balance in the wet conditions. "For me this qualifying was a tricky one," he said.
"The conditions where pretty much the same as yesterday, no rain but wet, so I tried to push in every lap but I don't feel fully comfortable on my bike. I am still struggling to find the limit.
"For sure I can break harder and open the gas earlier in the corner but that's really risky right now. We changed our setting again but it is still not ideal.
"Anyway with 7th row we are not too far off the front guys so I think if it is still raining tomorrow we can fight for a better position.”
The two Aspar riders Albert Arenas and Lorenzo dalla Porta were 26th and 27th respectively, however, it was confirmed that Arenas will be forced to miss the race after injuring himself in a crash.
A fall in the qualifying fractured his third metacarpal in his right hand, which now puts him in a race against time kinda position for the Spaniard to be ready for next weekend's Phillip Island race.
"I went down in qualifying and had the misfortune to bash my right hand, which caused a small fracture to the third metacarpal. I am sad because the weekend was going well up until that point and it is a shame for it to finish like this," he said.
"I can't race here at Motegi, the fracture is still very fresh, and I have to say goodbye to the Grand Prix of Japan. We still have to look at recovery times but I want to thank the team for the work they have done this weekend. We have been unlucky but now we have to focus on recovering."
As a result, teammate dalla Porta will start from 26th, with Peugeot's Patrik Pulkkinen finishing 29th, but gaining a place to be 28th.
“It has been a difficult day, especially because of the penalty, which denied me twenty minutes of qualifying. We went out to do whatever we could in the wet," said dalla Porta.
"We are still working to try and improve the bike in these conditions because it is not 100% yet. Hopefully tomorrow we get a dry race but we will work to take more steps forward in any conditions.”