The Moto2 has had few wet sessions in 2019 and for Jesko Raffin it was even the first time on a wet track with the NTS. The Swiss quickly mastered the circumstances and rode to eighth place in QP1, which earned him 22nd place on the starting grid for Sunday. Bo Bendsneyder was fast in the pouring rain in FP3, but a crash at the end of that session had consequences for QP1. The Dutchman came to thirteenth in qualifying, making him start the race from a disappointing 27th place.
The conditions in QP1 were difficult. In contrast to the third free practice, it was no longer soaked, but instead the asphalt of the TwinRing in Motegi dried up. For some that was even a reason to try a lap on slicks at the end of the session. The changing circumstances did not make it any easier, certainly not for the riders of NTS RW Racing GP who could handle the rain very well.
“We were quite strong in the rain,” said team manager Jarno Janssen. “Our bike is good in those circumstances, we’ve seen that before. For Jesko it was the first time on the NTS in the rain, but he was able to build up confidence quickly, which resulted in a neat 13th place in the qualification: almost a second faster than in FP3.”
Bendsneyder was constantly in sixth, seventh place in free practice, until he crashed in turn 3, with 7 minutes on the clock. “It was a fairly harmless crash,” said Janssen, “but one with a certain effect in qualifying. The result is disappointing. There was more in it. A race from 27th place will not be easy and we will have to take a lot of steps, but then we can look forward to it with some confidence.”
Bo Bendsneyder: “The team did a great job by getting the bike back in order after the crash in FP3. It was a long slide in turn 3, with some damage here and there. I had to get the feeling back in QP1 and that was difficult on the drying track. I am disappointed by the result, but luckily it seems to stay dry tomorrow and I think that is better for us at this moment.”
Jesko Raffin: “It was the first time for me in wet conditions, but I had a very good feeling with the bike. We used FP3 to get acquainted to the situation and to focus on qualification. In the changing circumstances it was difficult to set up a good lap without errors, but I am satisfied with a second faster than in FP3. The 22nd place is not what I am happy with, but with a good start it must be possible to end up with a good group and to fight for points. We still have some work to do and things to try in the warmup though.”