Takaaki Nakagami delighted the Japanese fans by claiming pole position for his home Grand Prix at Motegi. The home favourite edged out Alex Marquez in a frantic finish to qualifying on a drying track while both championship contenders ensured miserable afternoons and must stay way down the grid on Sunday.
With conditions rapidly improving as the session unfolded, pole position changed hands no fewer than 35 times as the riders found more confidence and grip. The weather had been so poor that this session was the first of the entire weekend in all classes to see dry tyres used, with the exception of an ill-advised gamble from two riders in MotoGP qualifying.
In the closing stages, it looked as though pole would be disputed by Aragon pole-man Miguel Oliveira and Malaysian Hafizh Syahrin with the two circulating together, often swapping positions within a split-second of crossing the line. Neither would improve on their final lap though when conditions were at their best which ultimately opened the door for others to relegate them down the order.
With the chequered flag flying, Marquez snatched top spot for the first time all afternoon on a 1:53.904 but Nakagami would have the last word, setting a 1:53.776 to send him home supporters home happy on another day of miserable weather at Motegi. Tech 3’s Xavi Vierge followed Nakagami around and was rewarded with third spot, his maiden front row start, while Mattia Pasini pushed Oliveira and Syahrin down to fifth and sixth.
Dynavolt pair Sandro Cortese and Marcel Schrotter will start seventh and eighth respectively ahead of MotoGP-bound Xavier Simeon while Augusto Fernandez produced one of the session’s biggest shocks, taking tenth for Speed Up, three places ahead of Thomas Luthi and five clear of series leader Franco Morbidelli after both struggled badly in the conditions.
Moto2 Motul Grand Prix of Japan – Qualifying
|1||30. Takaaki Nakagami||Kalex||Idemitsu Honda Team Asia||1:53.776|
|2||73. Alex Marquez||Kalex||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||1:53.904|
|3||97. Xavi Vierge||Tech 3||Tech 3 Racing||1:54.046|
|4||54. Mattia Pasini||Kalex||Italtrans Racing Team||1:54.139|
|5||44. Miguel Oliveira||KTM||Red Bull KTM Ajo||1:54.289|
|6||55. Hafizh Syahrin||Kalex||Petronas Raceline Malaysia||1:54.362|
|7||11. Sandro Cortese||Suter||Dynavolt Intact GP||1:54.409|
|8||23. Marcel Schrotter||Suter||Dynavolt Intact GP||1:55.181|
|9||19. Xavier Simeon||Kalex||Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2||1:55.220|
|10||37. Augusto Fernandez||Speed Up||Speed Up Racing||1:55.223|
|11||77. Dominique Aegerter||Suter||Kiefer Racing||1:55.237|
|12||42. Francesco Bagnaia||Kalex||Sky Racing Team VR46||1:55.610|
|13||12. Thomas Luthi||Kalex||CarXpert Interwetten||1:55.684|
|14||5. Andrea Locatelli||Kalex||Italtrans Racing Team||1:55.975|
|15||21. Franco Morbidelli||Kalex||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||1:55.988|
|16||49. Axel Pons||Kalex||RW Racing GP||1:56.047|
|17||40. Fabio Quartararo||Kalex||Pons HP 40||1:56.129|
|18||27. Iker Lecuona||Kalex||Garage Plus Interwetten||1:56.256|
|19||87. Remy Gardner||Tech 3||Tech 3 Racing||1:56.266|
|20||62. Stefano Manzi||Kalex||Sky Racing Team VR46||1:56.296|
|21||10. Luca Marini||Kalex||Forward Team||1:56.300|
|22||32. Isaac Vinales||Kalex||BE-A-VIP SAG Team||1:56.637|
|23||34. Ryo Mizuno||Kalex||MuSASHI RT HARC-PRO||1:56.729|
|24||41. Brad Binder||KTM||Red Bull KTM Ajo||1:56.859|
|25||33. Ikuhiro Enokido||Kalex||Teluru MOTOBUM Racing Team||1:56.885|
|26||9. Jorge Navarro||Kalex||Federal Oil Gresini Moto2||1:56.940|
|27||2. Jesko Raffin||Kalex||CarXpert Interwetten||1:57.357|
|28||24. Simone Corsi||Speed Up||Speed Up Racing||1:57.774|
|29||45. Tetsuta Nagashima||Kalex||Teluru SAG Team||1:57.946|
|30||7. Lorenzo Baldassarri||Kalex||Forward Team||1:58.961|
|31||6. Tarran Mackenzie||Suter||Kiefer Racing||1:59.282|
|32||57. Edgar Pons||Kalex||Pons HP 40||1:59.459|
|33||89. Khairul Idham Pawi||Kalex||Idemitsu Honda Team Asia||2:00.099|