Takaaki Nakagami snatched pole position from Pol Espargaro in the dying seconds of a close qualifying session at Brno. While Espargaro will not have enjoyed losing pole so late on, his title rival Scott Redding had a shocking day by comparison and will start on the fifth row of the grid.
Nakagami was the man to beat in the early stages but with eight minutes to go, Esteve Rabat looked to have denied him just he had in the race at Indianapolis. The Spaniard clocked a 2:02.599 to pull a tenth of a second ahead but he would soon lose pole without his time actually being beaten as Espargaro matched it to the thousandth of a second. With his second fastest lap quicker than Rabat’s Pol was the new provisional polesitter.
Any doubt was extinguished in the last minute of the session though as Nakagami, in a session where improvements were small and hard to come by, found four tenths of a second on the rest of the field to claim his second career pole. The Pons teammates will join him on the front row with Espargaro well placed to slash Scott Redding’s championship lead.
The Briton had his toughest day of the season so far, struggling for pace throughout as he desperately tried to salvage a respectable grid position. While Espargaro and Rabat were neck and neck, Redding was back in sixteenth and although he climbed to twelfth, improvements elsewhere knocked him back down to where he started. A 2:02.996 on his very last lap left him thirteenth in the end, one place behind compatriot Danny Kent after a career best performance, and with plenty of work to do tomorrow.
Even Redding’s teammate Mika Kallio offered assistance by giving him a slipstream on his last couple of laps but by this time, the Finn had already secured fourth for himself. Moto3 champion Sandro Cortese starts a superb fifth ahead of Jordi Torres and Johann Zarco with Thomas Luthi unable to follow through on his strong practice form, qualifying eighth ahead of Nicolas Terol and Dominique Aegerter.