Esteve Rabat has taken his eleventh pole position of the season with a typically relentless performance in Valencia. The new world champion was pushed hard by Johann Zarco but ultimately prevailed in the closing stages, snatching pole by four hundredths of a second.
After an early flurry of laps, Thomas Luthi set the initial pace on a 1:35.659 but his spell on top of the timesheets was ended by Rabat in the final fifteen minutes, the Marc VDS rider edging ahead by a tenth of a second. True to form, ‘Tito’ embarked on a run which featured several improvements as he lowered the target time to a 1:35.396 but his serene march to pole position was halted by Zarco who clocked a 1:35.242 six minutes from time.
Rabat refused to panic though and despite trailing Zarco three quarters of the way into his 23rd lap, Esteve produced a terrific final sector to go fastest by 0.043s. Zarco will have to settle for second on the grid with Franco Morbidelli joining him after a career-best qualifying performance from the Italian on his Italtrans Suter.
After his fast start to the session, Thomas Luthi was relegated to fourth with Xavier Simeon and Marcel Schrotter shining to secure the other two spots on the second row. Jonas Folger snatched seventh with a last-ditch effort which relegated Maverick Vinales and Mika Kallio, the two riders fighting over the championship runner-up spot, to eighth and ninth.