Marc Marquez took pole position with the very last lap of a thrilling wet qualifying session for tomorrow's Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, snatching it from Alex de Angelis.
Rain that fell during the MotoGP qualifying session left the Moto2 class with a sodden race track, and it became immediately clear which riders were feeling most comfortable in the treacherous conditions.
Bradley Smith has back-to-back podiums to his name from the two recent wet races, and the Briton was flying again, and took pole position early on ahead of wet-weather specialist Anthony West. Conditions gradually improved and the times tumbled, but Smith as an ever-present at the top, quickly beating the likes of Kenan Sofuoglu and Mattia Pasini who each held provisional pole, albeit briefly.
Smith's time of 2:07.483 remained unbeaten until the final four minutes when Marquez hit the front for the first time, going nearly a second quicker with a 2:06.654. One lap later and the gauntlet had been firmly laid down as the Spaniard improved again to a 2:06.389, but Smith kept himself in the hunt and reduced the gap back down to two tenths of a second.
Championship leader Stefan Bradl slipped under the radar for most of the session, lying on the fringes of the top ten, but in the dying seconds he came to life. The German had moved up to third and looked poised to unseat Marquez on his last lap. But with the chequered flag literally in sight, Bradl sat up having seemingly run out of fuel. Any chance of pole disappeared and the Viessman Kalex rider dropped back to seventh.
Instead, de Angelis took the fight to Marquez and took pole with a 2:05.897, but his joy was short-lived, as the 125cc World Champion put in a blistering lap, half a second quicker than the San Marino rider.
Smith lost out on his final lap as he tried to shake off a group of riders attempting to tuck in his slipstream, but will still start on the front row of a Moto2 grid for the first time. Xavier Simeon provided even more cheer for the Tech 3 squad with a career-best fourth on the grid ahead of Randy Krummenacher and Pol Espargaro.
Stefan Bradl will have Mattia Pasini and Mika Kallio for company on the third row while Anthony West impressed to qualify tenth.
The tricky conditions have contributed to a topsy-turvy grid, with several Grand Prix winners starting out of position. Andrea Iannone and Yuki Takahashi will both start on row five while two of this year's title contenders, Simone Corsi and Thomas Luthi will start together in 23rd and 24th.
Britain's Scott Redding had a miserable session and could only manage 28th but Aleix Espargaro and Jules Cluzel fared even worse and will start 32nd and 33rd.
|1||Marc Marquez||SPA||Team Catalunya Caixa Repsol||2:05.312|
|2||Alex de Angelis||RSM||JIR Moto2||2:05.897||+0.585|
|3||Bradley Smith||GBR||Tech 3 Racing||2:06.617||+1.305|
|4||Xavier Simeon||BEL||Tech 3 B||2:06.757||+1.445|
|5||Randy Krummenacher||SWI||GP Team Switzerland Kiefer Racing||2:06.941||+1.629|
|6||Pol Espargaro||SPA||HP Tuenti Speed Up||2:06.963||+1.651|
|7||Stefan Bradl||GER||Viessman Kiefer Racing||2:07.013||+1.701|
|8||Mattia Pasini||ITA||Ioda Racing Project||2:07.023||+1.711|
|9||Mika Kallio||FIN||Marc VDS Racing Team||2:07.147||+1.835|
|10||Anthony West||AUS||MZ Racing Team||2:07.249||+1.937|
|12||Robertino Pietri||VEN||Italtrans Racing Team||2:07.612||+2.300|
|14||Andrea Iannone||ITA||Speed Master||2:07.728||+2.416|
|15||Yuki Takahashi||JAP||Gresini Racing Moto2||2:07.780||+2.468|
|17||Ricard Cardus||SPA||QMMF Racing Team||2:07.864||+2.552|
|18||Jordi Torres||SPA||Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2||2:07.919||+2.607|
|19||Raffaele de Rosa||ITA||Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2||2:08.118||+2.806|
|20||Max Neukirchner||GER||MZ Racing Team||2:08.272||+2.960|
|21||Michele Pirro||ITA||Gresini Racing Moto2||2:08.289||+2.977|
|23||Simone Corsi||ITA||Ioda Racing Project||2:08.562||+3.250|
|24||Thomas Luthi||SWI||Interwetten Paddock Moto2||2:08.681||+3.369|
|25||Tommaso Lorenzetti||ITA||Aeroport de Castello||2:08.840||+3.528|
|26||Alex Baldolini||ITA||NGM Forward Racing||2:08.883||+3.571|
|27||Carmelo Morales||SPA||Desguaces La Torre G22||2:08.970||+3.658|
|28||Scott Redding||GBR||Marc VDS Racing Team||2:09.265||+3.953|
|29||Mattia Tarozzi||ITA||Faenza Racing||2:09.409||+4.097|
|31||Claudio Corti||ITA||Italtrans Racing Team||2:09.911||+4.599|
|32||Aleix Espargaro||SPA||Pons HP 40||2:09.974||+4.662|
|33||Jules Cluzel||FRA||NGM Forward Racing||2:10.420||+5.108|
|34||Ratthapark Wilairot||THA||Thai Honda Singha SAG||2:10.436||+5.124|
|35||Mike Di Meglio||FRA||Tech 3 Racing||2:10.652||+5.340|
|36||Santiago Hernandez||COL||SAG Team||2:10.723||+5.411|
|37||Mashel Al Naimi||QAT||QMMF Racing Team||2:13.596||+8.284|
|107% Time: 2:14.084|
|NQ||Valentin Debise||FRA||Speed Up||2:15.539||+9.227|
|NQ||Axel Pons||SPA||Pons HP 40||No Time||Injured|