Mika Kallio has taken pole position for the Japanese Moto2 Grand Prix on a day of contrasts for Marc VDS Racing at Motegi. The Finn led an unlikely top five with the Pons teammates Esteve Rabat and Pol Espargaro sixth and seventh but Scott Redding’s title hopes took another blow despite a brave ride, with the Briton qualifying fifteenth on his Marc VDS Kalex.
With the awful weather ruling out any chance of running before qualifying, the all-important fight for pole was the first track action the intermediate class had seen all weekend. Conditions had significantly improved following the Moto3 and MotoGP sessions and as a drier line emerged, Kallio went about dominating the session.
With just over half an hour to go, Mika took provisional pole from Mattia Pasini and his subsequent run saw four further improvements, lowering the benchmark time to a 2:02.535. Pasini soon responded to retake top spot but both were usurped by Espargaro who edged ahead seven minutes from time, seemingly striking another nail in Scott Redding’s championship coffin with the Briton lying outside the top ten.
Help was at hand for Scott in the form of his teammate who quickly wrestled pole position away from Espargaro again but Simone Corsi and Johann Zarco were also mounting late challenges, taking turns at the top as well. In the end, Kallio’s 2:01.248 in the last two minutes proved enough to secure pole position with Xavier Simeon emerging from nowhere to take second. Zarco took third from Corsi although the Frenchman may have felt pole should’ve been his having carried a four tenth advantage into the second half of his lap.
Indonesian rider Rafid Topan Sucipto took a sensational fifth for QMMF Racing ahead of Esteve Rabat who punted his teammate down to seventh. Dominique Aegerter starts eighth ahead of Danny Kent in a career-best ninth and Mattia Pasini in tenth with Gino Rea and Scott Redding together on the fifth row in fourteenth and fifteenth.