Pol Espargaro made a miraculous recovery to claim pole position for the Moto2 season opener in Qatar after a crash at the beginning of the session. The pre-season title favourite went down at turn two on his second flying lap, damaging his Kalex in the process, but the Pons team managed to repair the bike before a sensational last gasp effort saw the Spaniard beat Takaaki Nakagami to pole.
Espargaro’s incident came just five minutes into the qualifying session with his Kalex disappearing into the darkness of the gravel trap and it would take a quarter of an hour for him to return to the track. While he sweated on the state of his motorcycle, Scott Redding took advantage to move into provisional pole. The Briton was the man to beat from the start but Nakagami, having set the pace in practice, was looking more and more threatening with every lap he completed.
The Italtrans rider would regularly lose any advantage he had built up in the final sector of the lap but he got it spot on ten minutes from the end to set a 2:01.014, three tenths underneath Redding’s time. That seemed to have secured a maiden Grand Prix pole position for Nakagami as the other riders squabbled over the two remaining spots on the front row but Espargaro had other ideas.
His pace since returning to the track hadn’t suggested a pole lap was on the cards with the no.40 lying down in eighth when the chequered flag came out but a slipstream from Johann Zarco’s Ioda Suter came at the perfect time, allowing Pol to find half a second in the last sector to snatch pole from the grasp of Nakagami.
Marc VDS will still have a rider on the front row but it won’t be that of Scott Redding after a late flyer from Mika Kallio nudged him ahead of his British teammate. Scott will start fourth with Dominique Aegerter alongside on the leading Suter with Julian Simon on the outside of row two. Nicolas Terol starts seventh for Aspar ahead of Esteve Rabat with Marcel Schrotter a career-best ninth in front of JIR’s Mike Di Meglio.
British rookies Danny Kent and Kyle Smith will start two places apart in 26th and 28th for their Moto2 debuts.