Johann Zarco looks set to wrestle back control of the Moto2 championship battle after taking pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi. The defending champion has struggled for form since the summer break but looked much more like his usual self in qualifying in Japan as he saw off Thomas Luthi for his fifth pole of 2016.
Zarco leads Alex Rins by one point heading into Sunday’s race but the Spaniard has put his title hopes in jeopardy after a crash in FP2 yesterday. The Paginas Amarillas rider lost control at the Victory corner and has been suffering with a shoulder injury ever since. The pain proved too much for Rins in qualifying as he could only qualify 22nd.
His title rival enjoyed a much smoother session, clocking the fastest ever lap of Motegi on a Moto2 machine with two minutes remaining. Zarco will line up ahead of Luthi and both riders appear to be the class of the field in terms of race pace, setting the stage for a fascinating race between the two.
Franco Morbidelli starts from the outside of the front row with Aragon winner Sam Lowes fourth on the grid as he looks to close the 40 point gap between himself and Zarco. Sandro Cortese lines up fifth ahead of Axel Pons while home favourite Takaaki Nakagami will go for glory from the front of the third row in seventh.
Alex Marquez is eighth on the grid as he aims to build on his maiden podium at Aragon while Jonas Folger and Mattia Pasini round out the top ten.
Moto2 Motul Grand Prix of Japan (Qualifying Result)
|1||5. Johann Zarco||Kalex||Ajo Motorsport||1:49.961|
|2||12. Thomas Luthi||Kalex||Garage Plus Interwetten||1:50.028|
|3||21. Franco Morbidelli||Kalex||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||1:50.317|
|4||22. Sam Lowes||Kalex||Federal Oil Gresini Moto2||1:50.333|
|5||11. Sandro Cortese||Kalex||Dynavolt Intact GP||1:50.380|
|6||49. Axel Pons||Kalex||AGR Team||1:50.501|
|7||30. Takaaki Nakagami||Kalex||Idemitsu Honda Team Asia||1:50.522|
|8||73. Alex Marquez||Kalex||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||1:50.563|
|9||94. Jonas Folger||Kalex||Dynavolt Intact GP||1:50.743|
|10||54. Mattia Pasini||Kalex||Italtrans Racing Team||1:50.822|
|11||23. Marcel Schrotter||Kalex||AGR Team||1:50.894|
|12||55. Hafizh Syahrin||Kalex||Petronas Raceline Malaysia||1:50.898|
|13||24. Simone Corsi||Speed Up||Speed Up||1:50.917|
|14||7. Lorenzo Baldassarri||Kalex||Forward Team||1:50.969|
|15||52. Danny Kent||Kalex||Leopard Racing||1:51.035|
|16||60. Julian Simon||Speed Up||QMMF Racing Team||1:51.048|
|17||19. Xavier Simeon||Speed Up||QMMF Racing Team||1:51.123|
|18||97. Xavi Vierge||Tech 3||Tech 3 Racing||1:51.281|
|19||2. Jesko Raffin||Kalex||sports-millions-EMWE-SAG||1:51.311|
|20||32. Isaac Vinales||Tech 3||Tech 3 Racing||1:51.451|
|21||57. Edgar Pons||Kalex||Paginas Amarillas HP 40||1:51.490|
|22||40. Alex Rins||Kalex||Paginas Amarillas HP 40||1:51.594|
|23||87. Remy Gardner||Kalex||Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2||1:51.621|
|24||45. Tetsuta Nagashima||Kalex||Ajo Motorsport Academy||1:51.739|
|25||14. Ratthapark Wilairot||Kalex||Idemitsu Honda Team Asia||1:51.844|
|26||10. Luca Marini||Kalex||Forward Team||1:51.925|
|27||70. Robin Mulhauser||Kalex||CarXpert Interwetten||1:51.975|
|28||27. Iker Lecuona||Kalex||CarXpert Interwetten||1:52.233|
|29||63. Naomichi Uramoto||Kalex||Japan-GP2||1:52.966|
|30||84. Taro Sekiguchi||TSR||Team Taro Plus One||1:54.397|