Scott Redding finally claimed his first pole position in Grand Prix racing at the 86th time of asking after a stunning late effort to deny Takaaki Nakagami at the Circuit of the Americas. The Japanese rider looked on course for his maiden pole but Redding would snatch that honour for himself in a repeat of Nakagami’s last minute heartache in Qatar qualifying.
With the championship leader Pol Espargaro not looking at home on Moto2’s newest circuit, the stage was set for someone to hit new heights and Esteve Rabat looked most likely in the early minutes with a 2:11.383 but that would be overhauled by Nakagami midway through and the Italtrans rider remained at the top of the timesheets until the chequered flag came out.
At this point, Redding was lying third and had already vented his frustration at a pack of riders he felt were dawdling on the racing line at the final corner but the anger only seemed to inspire him with his final lap stopping the clock at 2:10.527, a full six tenths quicker than anyone else. Pole position was undisputedly his. Nicolas Terol had momentarily gone second before Scott’s stunning effort but third is still the Spaniard’s best ever grid position in this class.
Esteve Rabat was demoted to fourth but will still be the first Pons Tuenti Kalex on the grid with Dominique Aegerter and Simone Corsi between him and teammate Pol Espargaro. The title favourite couldn’t repeat his Qatar heroics and must fight for victory from the third row with Xavier Simeon and Mika Kallio for company.
It was a tremendous day all round for the British riders with Danny Kent and Kyle Smith both making giant strides from their performances a fortnight ago. Kent was the quickest rookie of all in thirteenth, fourteen spots ahead of his teammate Louis Rossi, while Smith edged out Moto3 champion Sandro Cortese for nineteenth, ending the day just three tenths shy of his teammate Toni Elias whose session brought a crash at turn one and a rather underwhelming sixteenth place in the end.