The Moto3 title contenders qualified side by side with the championship on the line.
Moto3 went out for their final qualifying of 2020. Both Ai Ogura and Toni Arbolino needed to advance out of Q1. The 17 slowest riders in practice needed to do battle in Q1. Only the top four in the session make it into Q2, to join the top 14.
The banker laps came in, but not from the title contenders. Both Ogura and Arbolino made mistakes and aborted. With 10 minutes left, Tatsuki Suzuki was the leader, but that was obviously going to change. With five minutes of the 15-minute session remaining, it was Niccolo Antonelli on top from Romano Fenati, then Suzuki and Maxi Koffler, but things were still not set in stone. Then, with only three minutes left, Ogura was dead last, and he needed a miracle lap to advance. It was happy hour at the front though, with red sectors aplenty. Unbelievably Arbolino was out of the top four with only a minute left as well, and the tension was off the scale.
The chequered flag flew, and Arbolino was out. He was starting 27th, but Ogura was flying and looking likely to advance. A fantastic lap ensured he did, along with Suzuki, Antonelli, and Darryn Binder, but the big story was Arbolino starting on the second last row.
It was now Q2 time, and the shootout for pole in the final Moto3 round of 2020. Early on it was obvious this would be a battle of waiting. Only with 10 minutes left did we get on-track action, as nobody wanted to give anybody the slipstream.
With five minutes left, it was Raul Fernandez on provisional pole, with Jeremy Alcoba and Ayumu Sasaki on the front row. Arenas were fifth and Ogura again last. He mucked up his second last lap and again he only had one shot. Then the drama went through the roof. A gaggle of riders including Arenas got the chequered flag before starting their hot lap. Ogura was one who did make it, though, and he set a blistering time to go fifth. In the end, it was Fernandez on pole for the sixth time this year. Alcoba and Sasaki stayed on the front row, and the second row was Suzuki and title rivals Ogura and Arenas.
Only eight points separate Arenas and Ogura, who will go toe to toe for the title on Sunday.