Esteve Rabat secured the first pole position of his Grand Prix career after leaping ahead of Scott Redding in the closing stages of qualifying at Jerez. The Spaniard, set to start his 113th GP tomorrow, will lead the championship leader and perennial front row starter Takaaki Nakagami off the line tomorrow.
Redding was the man to beat for much of the 45 minute session as he looked to build on his own pole position breakthrough in Texas but his 1:43.698s lap was eventually overhauled with six minutes to go, with Rabat going four tenths faster following a stunning effort. The Pons rider wasn’t finished there though and went on to go faster still two laps later, putting pole position well out of Redding’s reach. Scott’s flyer in the opening quarter of an hour would prove to be his fastest but he’d done more than enough to qualify second.
Nakagami was six tenths back in third with Pol Espargaro a disappointing fourth after continually dropping time in the final sector of the lap when on potential pole pace. The lack of pace through the fast right handers proved the difference between the first and second rows with a 1:43.950 the best he could manage. Jordi Torres and Xavier Simeon shone to qualify alongside the title favourite with Texas winner Nicolas Terol bumped down to seventh. Marcel Schrotter is next up in eight with Thomas Luthi marking his return to racing with a heroic ninth after pulling out midway through the Austin weekend.
British rookies Kyle Smith and Danny Kent will start line astern in 24th and 25th with both glad to be in familiar surroundings after the testing times at COTA. Both will be eying their first points in the intermediate class in tomorrow’s Grand Prix.