Stefan Bradl delivered the performance of a champion in qualifying for the San Marino Grand Prix by comfortably beating Marc Marquez to pole position, ending his run of four consecutive poles. The championship leader has been under relentless pressure from the Spaniard in recent weeks but the momentum swung back in his favour in a dramatic qualifying session.
The fight for pole was a straight fight between the title protagonists and Marquez took the early lead with a 1:38.451. Bradl responded though with the fastest ever lap of Misano on a Moto2 machine to move 0.353s ahead of his rival.
For the first time in the championship fight, the pressure appeared to be getting to Marquez. After his next lap fell two tenths short of pole position, the 18 year old lost the front end of his Suter as he tipped it into turn one. Although he was unhurt, Marquez lost valuable time as he recovered back to the pits for checks.
Bradl promptly turned the screw and improved to a 1:38.073 but he wasn't finished there. On his final run, the Kalex rider broke into the 1:37s, smashing his own pole record by another quarter of a second.
Marquez did make it back out on track and needed to, as his original time would have left him down in fifth. A 1:38.084 was good enough to hold on to second while Yuki Takahashi put in a consistent run of laps to claim third, half a second back.
The Japanese rider denied Alex de Angelis a front row start at his home Grand Prix with a minute to go and his failure to go any quicker in the final few minutes allowed Scott Redding to sneak into fourth, a tenth ahead of him.
Two thirds of the second row will be British thanks to Bradley Smith's performance on the Tech 3 Mistral 610. The 20 year old spent most of the session on the fringes of the top ten but found clear space right at the death to take sixth, nine thousandths ahead of Andrea Iannone.
Michele Pirro capped a good day for the Gresini team with eighth place while Pol Espargaro and Thomas Luthi completed the top ten.
With the times so close, the pressure was on the riders to deliver a clean lap and it took its toll on several men. Esteve Rabat and Jordi Torres came unstuck on their first runs while Santiago Hernandez ended the session in the gravel trap, as did Kenny Noyes.
|1||Stefan Bradl||GER||Kalex||Viessman Kiefer Racing||1:37.828|
|2||Marc Marquez||SPA||Suter||Team Catalunya Caixa Repsol||+0.256|
|3||Yuki Takahashi||JAP||Moriwaki||Gresini Racing Moto2||+0.512|
|4||Scott Redding||GBR||Suter||Marc VDS Racing Team||+0.536|
|5||Alex de Angelis||RSM||Motobi||JIR Moto2||+0.633|
|6||Bradley Smith||GBR||Tech 3||Tech 3 Racing||+0.707|
|7||Andrea Iannone||ITA||Suter||Speed Master||+0.716|
|8||Michele Pirro||ITA||Moriwaki||Gresini Racing Moto2||+0.772|
|9||Pol Espargaro||SPA||FTR||HP Tuenti Speed Up||+0.819|
|10||Thomas Luthi||SWI||Suter||Interwetten Paddock Moto2||+0.829|
|11||Jules Cluzel||FRA||Suter||NGM Forward Racing||+0.902|
|12||Aleix Espargaro||SPA||Pons Kalex||Pons HP 40||+0.957|
|13||Mattia Pasini||ITA||FTR||Ioda Racing Project||+1.055|
|14||Julian Simon||SPA||Suter||Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2||+1.059|
|15||Simone Corsi||ITA||FTR||Ioda Racing Project||+1.177|
|17||Max Neukirchner||GER||MZ-RE Honda||MZ Racing Team||+1.338|
|18||Mike Di Meglio||FRA||Tech 3||Tech 3 Racing||+1.411|
|19||Randy Krummenacher||SWI||Kalex||GP Team Switzerland Kiefer Racing||+1.583|
|20||Claudio Corti||ITA||Suter||Italtrans Racing Team||+1.604|
|21||Alex Baldolini||ITA||Pons Kalex||Pons HP 40||+1.608|
|22||Raffaele de Rosa||ITA||Suter||NGM Forward Racing||+1.612|
|23||Xavier Simeon||BEL||Tech 3||Tech 3 B||+1.736|
|24||Anthony West||AUS||MZ-RE Honda||MZ Racing Team||+1.742|
|25||Robertino Pietri||VEN||Suter||Italtrans Racing Team||+1.857|
|26||Mika Kallio||FIN||Suter||Marc VDS Racing Team||+1.873|
|27||Ricard Cardus||SPA||Moriwaki||QMMF Racing Team||+1.898|
|30||Alessandro Andreozzi (WC)||ITA||FTR||Andreozzi Reparto Corse||+2.535|
|32||Santiago Hernandez||COL||FTR||SAG Team||+2.646|
|33||Valentin Debise||FRA||FTR||Speed Up||+2.710|
|34||Ratthapark Wilairot||THA||FTR||Thai Honda Singha SAG||+2.778|
|35||Carmelo Morales||SPA||Suter||Desguaces La Torre G22||+2.779|
|36||Jordi Torres||SPA||Suter||Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2||+2.993|
|38||Jacob Gagne||USA||FTR||Aeroport de Castello||+3.712|
|39||Mashel Al Naimi||QAT||Moriwaki||QMMF Racing Team||+4.012|
|107% Qualifying Time: 1:44.676|