#JuniorGP Barcelona – Saturday roundup: JuniorGP, Moto2, ETC, STK
Circuit de Catalunya – Barcelona played host to a blistering qualifying day from Round 5 of the Finetwork FIM JuniorGP™ World Championship, and we now know how the grids will look ahead of Sunday’s races. Angel Piqueras (Team Estrella Galicia 0,0) launches from the front in JuniorGP™, while Xavi Cardelus (PromoRacing) is in P1 for both Moto2™ European Championship races.
Drama in the European Talent Cup saw Maximo Quiles (Aspar Junior Team) take pole but then handed a back of the grid penalty for the race, while Daniel Muñoz (SP57 Racing Team) will continue his title charge in the Stock European Championship from the head of the grid.
Angel Piqueras is back on pole position in the JuniorGP™ class, with the Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 securing a second P1 start of the campaign thanks to a 1:49.387. The Spaniard couldn’t have wished for a better Saturday, with the Championship leader eyeing up a potentially title winning weekend. He currently holds a 54 point advantage in the standings, and if he can extend that to beyond 75 points after two races in Barcelona, then he will secure the title. He won’t have it all his own way though, with Jacob Roulstone (Aspar Junior Team) and David Almansa (Finetwork Mir Racing Team) out to spoil the party from the front row.
A blockbuster front three is followed by an exciting Row 2 with race winning pedigree. Having put in a ride for the ages from the back of the grid in the Algarve to become the 100th different JuniorGP™ race winner, Xabier Zurutuza (MTA Junior Team) starts fourth on Sunday. Having taken victory on the opening day in Estoril, Nico Carraro (Aspar Junior Team) hasn’t quite scaled those heights since but he has another opportunity from fifth on the grid.
Opportunity beckons in Barcelona for Xavi Cardelus, with the Andorran ensuring a start from the head of the grid in both Moto2™ races as he seeks a maiden win in the class. The Andorran’s 1:44.013 gave him almost half a second to spare in qualifying over Niccolo Antonelli (MMR), while Unai Orradre (STV Laglisse Racing) completes the front row.
Alberto Surra (Team Ciatti-Boscoscuro) and Roberto Garcia (Cardoso-Fantic Racing) both claimed podiums in the Algarve, and they’ll fancy their chances once again from fourth and fifth on the grid respectively. Completing the second row is Alex Toledo (EasyRace Team), who will be bidding for a first podium of the campaign from sixth.
The big news coming from the Moto2™ class in Barcelona though, is the absence of Championship leader Senna Agius (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP Team). The young Australian suffered a big highside during Friday Free Practice, breaking bones in his left hand, and he has been ruled out of the two races in Catalunya. It will come as a massive disappointment to the #81, who had hoped to wrap up the Moto2™ European Championship title at a circuit he did the double at in 2022. Regardless of Sunday’s results, Agius will still lead the standings heading into the Aragon round, but it is a massive opportunity for the chasing pack to close the gap to the front – namely Cardelus, who sits second overall, 61 points behind Agius.
In the European Talent Cup, Maximo Quiles’ 1:50.330 was enough to secure a second pole position for the Championship leader in 2023, but the Aspar Junior Team rider’s joy was shortlived as he was handed a penalty post-session that will see him start at the back of the grid. That hands the initiative to his title rival Brian Uriarte (Team Estrella Galicia 0,0) who topped his group in qualifying.
Only a point separates the two in the standings, and they have been equally as close throughout the weekend in Barcelona. Interestingly, Uriarte opted not to run in the second qualifying session as he felt he had banked a time good enough for the front row in the morning and he didn’t want to aggravate the hand injury which forced him to miss the Algarve round a fortnight ago.
Rico Salmela joins his Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 teammate on the front row with the Finn displaying impressive pace all weekend, while next on the timesheets was reigning Champion Guido Pini (AC Racing Team) followed by Jesus Rios (MRE Talent), Casey O’Gorman (SuperHugo44 Team) and Pau Alsina (Artbox).
Back of the grid penalties to Quiles and his Aspar teammate Dodo Boggio, first and third in the Championship, hands a huge opportunity to Uriarte to take control of the title fight ahead of the summer break.
In the Stock European Championship, Daniel Muñoz starts on pole as he has his first match point in the title race. The SP57 Racing Team rider’s 1:47.308 was enough to edge out title adversary Eric Fernandez (FAU55 TEY Racing Team) to P1, while Dino Iozzo (IUM Motorsports) rounds out the front row.
EasyRace Team duo Adrian Rodriguez and Marco Garcia claim P4 and P5 respectively, while Archie McDonald’s quest for a maiden podium continues from sixth on the grid.
The fate of the 2023 Stock European Championship could be decided on Sunday, but only if Muñoz can outscore Fernandez by 20 points. The two have been tit for tat on track throughout the campaign, but Muñoz has built up a 30 point advantage with 75 left on the board ahead of lights out.