#JuniorGP Portimao: Maiden poles and a continued unbeaten record at JuniorGP qualifying
Portugal promises great racing after Saturday’s action sees new names hungry for success, and the big-hitters determined to defend their top spots…
The first round of the second half of the Finetwork FIM JuniorGP™ World Championship has gotten fully underway, with the rollercoaster Autodromo Internacional do Algarve in Portugal hosting the 5th round of the championship’s 25th season. A sun-kissed Saturday has provided a great day of action to kickstart the weekend ahead of Sunday’s races. Adrian Cruces (Cuna de Campeones) took a surprising pole in the JuniorGP™, with Lukas Tulovic (Liqui Moly Intact GP Junior Team) continuing his unbeaten qualifying run in the 2022 Moto2™ European Championship and Dodó Boggio (Aspar Junior Team) taking his maiden Hawkers European Talent Cup pole position.
An incredible lap from Adrian Cruces (Cuna de Campeones) saw the Valencian secure not only his first pole position, but his first front row in the JuniorGP™. After two intense qualifying sessions, it was a flurry of fast times in the closing moments of the day that decided Sunday’s grid. With a last-minute push, Cruces posted his 1:48.182 moments before the chequered flag came out, shocking the paddock and stealing the limelight by just 0.089s ahead of Syarifudin Azman (SIC Racing). Azman equals his career-best qualifying in 2nd spot, putting him right in the middle of the front-row for Sunday’s race. After setting an early banker lap during Q2, Harrison Voight (SIC 58) spent most of the session on top spot, to then be demoted to 3rd in the dying moment of the session. The Australian returns to the front row, with his last top 3 in qualifying being at the first round of the year.
Fronting the second row of the grid is Luca Lunetta (AC Racing Team) narrowly missing out on a front row spot. Despite having laps cancelled during Q2, the Italian secured his first second row start of the year in 4th. Ángel Piqueras (Team Estrella Galicia 0,0) finds himself in the middle of row 2 in 5th spot after setting a time just 0.004s away from Lunetta. Rounding out the second row is the man-to-beat José Antonio Rueda (Team Estrella Galicia 0,0), who finds himself off the front row for the first time this season. The championship leader had a near-perfect qualifying record going into the weekend, having started every race inside the top 2. The Spaniard will have his work cut out for him in Sunday’s race, as the entire field prepare for battle.
It was a hard-fought battle of attrition throughout the day for the Moto2™ Ech class. With the top 3 split by just 0.071s, championship leader Lukas Tulovic secured his 5th pole of the season. Despite the field being hot on his tail, Tulovic’s immense qualifying form has seen him take pole at every round of the 2022 Moto2™ Ech season so far. Just 0.020s away from the German, was the 2021 Stock Champion Alex Escrig, taking his 3rd front row of the year. Continuing his strong run of form, the rookie sensation Senna Agius (Promoracing) rounds out the front row, and will start Sunday’s two races from 3rd spot. Taking the spoils on Saturday, Juan Rodriguez (Cuna de Campeones) leads the way in the battle for victory in the Stock category.
The plot twist continues in the Hawkers European Talent as the man-of-the-moment Dodó Boggio (Aspar Junior Team) took pole position. Fresh from his double Jerez victory, the unexpected championship leader sent a message to the field as championship favourite Joel Esteban (Aspar Junior Team) returns from illness. Esteban lines up just behind Boggio in the middle of the front row, setting it up perfectly for the championship battle to commence on Sunday. Rounding out the front row is Brian Uriarte (Team Estrella Galicia 0,0), the youngster hungry for his maiden victory in the Hawkers ETC.