Niklas Ajo debuts on front row

27.06.2014

Avant Tecno Husqvarna Ajo rider takes third place on the grid at Assen and will start from front row for first time in his career. Danny Kent, eleventh, will take off from the fourth row.

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After numerous fourth positions in previous qualifying sessions, Niklas Ajo today finally earned his first front row start in the Moto3 World Championship.  The Avant Tecno Husqvarna Ajo fought hard to the end to clinch third place for the Dutch TT. This is the second front row for a Husqvarna rider this season, after Danny Kent’s success in Argentina. Today Kent placed eleventh after a strong final practice session.

On a completely dry track, Niklas Ajo and Danny Kent took their final step up in the third free practice session. Both slipped into the Top 5, with the Finn third with a 1:42.679 lap and the Briton fifth with a 1:42.922. The Husqvarna riders took their pace below the 1:42 mark for the first time this weekend.

Rain had appeared between sessions, and the sky was threatening further showers, but the Husqvarna riders went out for qualifying on slicks to set their hot laps as soon as possible. In the first 15 minutes, Niklas and Kent could not find their groove, so they returned to the pits for 10 minutes as a smattering of rain fell and then reemerged. Niklas Ajo took third with a magnificent 1:42.430 lap only 0.190s off pole, and Red Bull Husqvarna Ajo’s Kent set a final lap of 1:42.820 for eleventh.

The Dutch TT will be held on Saturday from 11:00am. This is the only race not to take place on a Sunday. Kent took his first World Championship podium at Assen in 2012.

Results – Qualifying practice
1. Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:42.240
2. Alex Marquez (Honda) 1:42.356 +0.116
3. Niklas Ajo (Avant Tecno Husqvarna Ajo) 1:42.430 +0.190
4. Alexis Masbou (Honda) 1:42.458 +0.218
5. Niccolo Antonelli (KTM) 1:42.515 +0.275
11. Danny Kent (Red Bull Husqvarna Ajo) 1:42.820 +0.580

 

Niklas Ajo >> Audio (solely for radio use)

”It was a great qualifying session. At first we didn’t know whether we would be able to ride in the session, because it was raining on some sectors of the track and the surface was a bit slippery. So I thought that this was my chance to push hard and tried to do my best to see what happened. We tried and it worked.

The weekend in general has been going very well. We are almost always improving. We will try to keep this up and maintain the same attitude to get on the podium tomorrow. It’s the first time I have got onto the front row, but that doesn’t matter so much. Obviously I’m happy about this, but the race is tomorrow and we have to concentrate on that.”

Danny Kent >> Audio (solely for radio use)

”The weather conditions were a bit deceptive at first, because the track was a little wet. I’m a little frustrated by the position I ended up with, but I think we have a good pace to go faster tomorrow. I have not had the opportunity to get a clean lap yet, and in those circumstances I think we could have been faster.

Tomorrow we have to be confident in order to get a good start. If we can do it, I think we have a chance to be closer to the frontrunners than we have been in other races. Overall, I’m happy with the progress we have made​​. We will all be close together, because we are separated by less than a second on the timesheets. The main thing is to do well and try to move up the field as soon as possible, because it will be a race in which everyone will be closely packed.”