Johann Zarco emerged from a frantic finale to qualifying with pole position from the San Marino Grand Prix, putting him in position to close Nicolas Terol's championship lead tomorrow. Each of the top four riders all set personal best times on their final attempt but the Frenchman managed to edge out two tenths of a second over the two Aspar Aprilias that will join him on the front row.
Zarco jumped to the top of the order immediately when the session kicked off lapping in 1:44.860 but the ever-increasing threat of Danny Kent was on show again. The Briton completed an impressive run of laps on his first run to go fourth but should have gone top of the pile, only to be held up by Harry Stafford in the final sector.
Zarco improved on his second run to a 1:44.619 but Hector Faubel was the man on the move, obliterating the target time with a 1:44.039. Zarco responded moments later to recapture pole position but Sandro Cortese emerged from nowhere to beat the pair of them, although the top three were still covered by four hundredths of a second.
Terol was unusually quiet after dominating the three practice session before qualifying, and as the riders poured out on track for their last runs, the Spaniard was off the front row in fourth.
Three minutes from time, he came to life with a 1:43.902 but was still a step behind his rivals, with Zarco having already lowered the pole time to a 1:43.631. Terol cut the gap on his next lap to get to within eight thousandths of the Derbi rider but the order would change again as the big guns prepared for one last flyer.
With the top three running nose-to-tail, a superb fight looked in prospect and each of them went quicker again. Terol took pole for the first time in the session but no sooner had he done it, Zarco pushed him straight back down to second with a 1:43.247, the fastest lap of the weekend.
To make matters worse for the series leader, teammate Hector Faubel denied him of second place as Terol paid the price for failing to beat his time from morning practice. Cortese was 0.001s away from knocking off the front row altogether but had to settle for fourth, with Danny Kent a superb fifth.
Equally impressive was the performance of wildcard entrant Miroslav Popov. The 16 year old Czech rider is competing in only his second Grand Prix and currently competes in the Italian National Championship but showed his talent on the world stage with sixth, leaving GP winners trailing in his wake.
That list includes Jonas Folger who will head row three ahead of the returning Luis Salom and Miguel Oliveira. Title contender Maverick Vinales is up against it if he's going to keep himself in contention starting from tenth while Efren Vazquez, teammate to Zarco, will start down in 11th.
Two of the three remaining Brits will line up on the seventh row after Danny Webb and Harry Stafford qualified 19th and 20th but Taylor Mackenzie will be forced to start from the back of the grid after his Phonica Racing Aprilia broke down early in the session.
|2||Hector Faubel||SPA||Aprilia||Bankia Aspar Team 125cc||+0.193|
|3||Nicolas Terol||SPA||Aprilia||Bankia Aspar Team 125cc||+0.357|
|4||Sandro Cortese||GER||Aprilia||Intact-Racing Team Germany||+0.358|
|5||Danny Kent||GBR||Aprilia||Red Bull Ajo MotorSport||+0.993|
|6||Miroslav Popov (WC)||CZE||Aprilia||Ellegi Racing||+1.008|
|7||Jonas Folger||GER||Aprilia||Red Bull Ajo MotorSport||+1.019|
|8||Luis Salom||SPA||Aprilia||RW Racing GP||+1.028|
|9||Miguel Oliveira||POR||Aprilia||AndalucÃa Banca Civica||+1.080|
|10||Maverick Vinales||SPA||Aprilia||Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing||+1.104|
|12||Alberto Moncayo||SPA||Aprilia||AndalucÃa Banca Civica||+1.404|
|13||Sergio Gadea||SPA||Aprilia||Blusens by Paris Hilton Racing||+1.493|
|14||Luigi Morciano||ITA||Aprilia||Team Italia FMI||+1.693|
|15||Marcel Schrotter||GER||Mahindra||Mahindra Racing||+1.787|
|18||Adrian Martin||SPA||Aprilia||Bankia Aspar Team 125cc||+1.946|
|19||Danny Webb||GBR||Mahindra||Mahindra Racing||+2.277|
|22||Alessandro Tonucci||ITA||Aprilia||Team Italia FMI||+2.586|
|23||Louis Rossi||FRA||Aprilia||Matteoni Racing||+2.593|
|24||Massimo Parziani (WC)||ITA||Aprilia||Faenza Racing||+2.834|
|25||Alessandro Giorgi (WC)||ITA||Aprilia||VFT Racing||+2.836|
|26||Alexis Masbou||FRA||KTM||Caretta Technology||+3.009|
|27||Manuel Tatasciore (WC)||ITA||Aprilia||Phonica Racing||+3.069|
|28||Kevin Calia (WC)||ITA||Aprilia||MGP Racing||+3.098|
|29||Sturla Fagerhaug||NOR||Aprilia||WTR-Ten10 Racing||+3.387|
|30||Jack Miller||AUS||KTM||Caretta Technology||+3.784|
|31||Francesco Mauriello||ITA||Aprilia||WTR-Ten10 Racing||+3.951|
|32||Giulian Pedone||SWI||Aprilia||Phonica Racing||+4.378|
|33||Joan Perello||SPA||Aprilia||Matteoni Racing||+5.129|
|34||Taylor Mackenzie||GBR||Aprilia||Phonica Racing||+5.646|
|107% Qualifying Time: 1:50.474|
|NQ||Simone Grotzkyj||ITA||Aprilia||Phonica Racing||No Time|
|NQ||Niklas Ajo||FIN||Aprilia||TT Motion Events Racing||No Time|