Alex Rins claimed the first pole position of 2014 as Honda showed they have all the capabilities to challenge KTM in the new season. Rins and Alex Marquez secured an Estrella Galicia 1-2 to confound pre-season expectations that KTM would dominate, Jack Miller being the fastest rider on the Austrian machinery in third.
Miller was in feisty mood at the start of the session, putting in some aggressive overtaking manoeuvres to pick his way through traffic, but it was Marquez that found the clear track early on to take provisional pole on a 2:07.334. His teammate Rins edged ahead soon afterwards but the factory Honda team were yet to truly show their hand, that moment coming with twenty minutes remaining.
As a class, Moto3 usually provides the tightest qualifying battles of all but Marquez’s next flying lap saw him wipe a full second off the previous benchmark time, setting a 2:06.125. The lap was so impressive that not even Rins could keep up initially, falling half a second short. With less than a minute remaining though, normal order was restored within Emilio Alzamora’s squad as Rins, last season’s runner-up in such heartbreaking circumstances, broke into the 2:05s to snatch pole position.
The traffic didn’t relate for Miller and he was forced to make do with third while Jakub Kornfeil edged out his Calvo teammate Isaac Vinales for fourth in the dying seconds. Danny Kent hasn’t enjoyed the smoothest of weekends back in the lightweight class but the Briton did at least salvage sixth late on while John McPhee also impressed when it mattered most, clinching a career-best seventh on another of the rapid Hondas.
One of the surprises of qualifying was the lack of pace from Romano Fenati who lapped over a second slower than he had in free practice, slipping to eighth as a result, while Niccolo Antonelli also failed to follow through on stunning pre-season, taking ninth ahead of Francesco Bagnaia on the second Sky Racing by VR46 KTM.