Sandro Cortese claimed a rather fortunate pole position for the Indianapolis Grand Prix after a red flag 23 seconds from the end denied Efren Vazquez. The JHK Laglisse rider was metres from the finish line when the session was halted due to Alex Marquez’s crash at the final corner and the stopwatch showed a time that would’ve taken pole. However, only laps completed before the stoppage would count and Cortese survived.

A dramatic session was littered with accidents starting with Hector Faubel at the final corner just seven minutes in. The Aspar rider suffered a horrible highside and landed heavily on his back before being taken to hospital for checks, bringing out the first red flag in the process.

The session had only resumed for four minutes when two more slid down the road with Jack Miller losing control of his Caretta Technology Honda at turn one, colliding with the blameless Adrian Martin. The Australian teenager walked away but was later diagnosed with a left collarbone fracture. Alex Marquez would be the next to go down, the first of three falls for the Moto3 returnee, while Danny Webb also tumbled, highsiding his Mahindra and coming to a heavy landing at turn four.

Having pushed his KTM teammate all weekend, Danny Kent was keen to take the fight to Cortese in qualifying and hit the front at the fifteen minute mark. The Briton clocked a 1:48.703 before improving further ten minutes from time, throwing down the gauntlet to his colleague.

Cortese’s response came just in the nick of time with the championship leader setting a 1:48.545 with two minutes remaining. Maverick Vinales was also flying just behind him but a poor final sector cost him dearly, leaving him a tenth of a second down in third, behind Cortese and Kent, then came the controversy.

Cortese himself was on a lap threatening his own pole time but as he exited the final corner, the no.12 Suter Honda of Marquez was seen lying on the outside of the racetrack. Cortese made it over the line, failing to improve, but Efren Vazquez was on target to knock him off pole, only for the red flags to intervene. The Spaniard did register a time of 1:48.410, a tenth quicker than Cortese’s pole time, but the lap wouldn’t count and Efren was left to thump his motorcycle in fury.

Luis Salom leads the second row although he couldn’t get anywhere near the top three. The RW Racing GP rider will have Zulfahmi Khairuddin and Alex Rins alongside with the disgruntled Vazquez forced to make do with seventh ahead of Romano Fenati and Alberto Moncayo. After his heavy fall, Danny Webb tumbled from the fringes of the top twenty to 27th, back of the ninth row.