Maverick Vinales set the stage for another head-to-head shootout with Sandro Cortese by pipping the championship leader to pole position at Brno. The two men outclassed the opposition with the young Spaniard hanging on despite a late charge from the KTM rider, beating him by just 0.033s.
Cortese was the first to draw blood with a 2:09.737 but Vinales responded quickly and emphatically, putting over seven tenths into the German with consecutive laps in the 2:09.0 bracket. The top two headed for the pits and just as in Indianapolis, they were placed under pressure by Luis Salom who broke into the 2:08s.
Yet again though, Vinales would raise the bar upon his return to the track with the fastest lap of the weekend overall. The Avintia Blusens rider clocked 2:08.075 to seemingly secure pole position, particularly when Cortese’s reply was comfortably slower. Sandro kept plugging away and on his final lap, lit up the timing screens with a first sector almost four tenths under Vinales’ benchmark.
The lead started to erode as the lap unfolded but entering the final sector of the lap, Cortese was still ahead. However, Vinales’ speed in the closing corners proved crucial as the KTM crossed the line with a 2:08.108, marginally slower than required.
Zulfahmi Khairuddin also picked up pace late on to put his factory KTM on the front row although the top two were four tenths clear. The Malaysian had done enough to fend off a late challenge from Niccolo Antonelli though while the pair of them demoted Luis Salom to fifth.
Hector Faubel bounced back from the painful end to his Indianapolis qualifying session with sixth while home favourite Jakub Kornfeil claimed seventh ahead of Alex Rins. Danny Kent will be rather disappointed with ninth having shown so well in practice while Jonas Folger will have work to do to claim back-to-back podiums starting from tenth.
John McPhee will line-up nineteenth after another impressive showing but there will three empty grid slots tomorrow with Riccardo Moretti, Isaac Vinales and Alan Techer all picking up injuries.