Pol Espargaro continued to have the edge on Marc Marquez at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway by beating the championship leader to pole position. The two Spaniards have been in a class of their own all weekend and qualifying was no different with the pair almost a second ahead of the field for much of the session.

Marquez struck the first blow with a 1:42.833 on his first run, going over half a second quicker than the fastest time in morning practice. Espargaro responded superbly after a breather in the pits with a 1:42.872 followed by a stunning 1:42.602, putting a quarter of a second into his title rival. The best part of half an hour remained but neither were capable of improving, showing how impressive their early efforts had been. Both gave it their best shot and each found themselves on the brink of crashing before settling for their front row grid slots.

The final place in the top three was still up for grabs though with Scott Redding in possession of third place early on, albeit nine tenths off pole position pace. The Briton held on until the final two minutes when Andrea Iannone finally discovered some qualifying pace. The Italian, who has rarely found himself on the front row this year, pulled a 1:43.064 out of the bag on his penultimate lap to grab third.

Try as he might, Redding couldn’t fight back and would eventually be shuffled back to sixth by Julian Simon and Dominique Aegerter in the final reckoning. Claudio Corti produced some spectacular moments on his way to seventh with Mika Kallio eighth ahead of the disappointing Thomas Luthi and the improving Nicolas Terol, winner here on a 125cc machine last year.

Bradley Smith finished a promising seventh on Friday but appeared to lose his way on Saturday. After failing to improve his time in final practice, the Tech 3 rider toiled hard with fourteenth his reward, five places ahead of Gino Rea who will be much happier with his afternoon’s work.