Jonas Folger timed his final run to perfection as he snatched pole position from Luis Salom on a drying track at Aragon. The German, so often the rider to watch in the wet, proved the quickest on a drying track as well to claim the first pole of his Grand Prix career.
Saturday morning’s final practice session was run in wet conditions, giving the riders no experience on slick tyres before qualifying. Although the track was improving by the minute, the early laps were also on wets with the Estrella Galicia teammates looking strong. Miguel Oliveira, quickest yesterday, was trading provisional pole with Alex Rins but within fifteen minutes, riders were flooding out of their garages on slicks and their chances started to fade.
Oliveira had set the pace on a 2:03.969 but with dry tyres fitted, his rivals quickly blew that away Romano Fenati the first to go under 2:03, pulling out a half second lead over Sandro Cortese and Efren Vazquez. With seven minutes to go, Folger sneaked to the top of the leaderboard with a 2:02.030 while Zulfahmi Khairuddin climbed up to second.
As the times tumbled rapidly, the championship contenders were quickly tumbling down the order with Cortese and Maverick Vinales both off the front row. Cortese rectified that with a matter of seconds remaining, clocking a 2:02.041 to go second but Vinales’ final lap was spoiled by traffic, restricting him to fifth at best.
Salom still had another lap in his pocket and made full use of it, breaking into the 2:01s, but Folger wouldn’t be denied his maiden pole and set a 2:01.715 to make sure, a tenth quicker than the Spaniard. Cortese held onto third ahead of Fenati with the German also left to thank his teammate Danny Kent who demoted Vinales to sixth on his final lap.
Zulfahmi Khairuddin and Efren Vazquez were among the victims of the late tumble in lap times, dropping to seventh and eighth while Estrella Galicia saw their riders end up at the bottom of the top ten with Miguel Oliveira edging out Alex Rins. John McPhee will start his first race for Caretta Technology from 27th with Danny Webb one place further back on his Mahindra.