Francesco Bagnaia produced a qualifying masterclass to claim a comfortable pole position for the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi. The Italian dominated the session, leading the way throughout, and is well placed to extend his 28-point championship lead over Miguel Oliveira who could only manage ninth on the grid.
The early stages of the session saw Friday pacesetter Iker Lecuona prove his pace was no fluke, going straight to the top with a 1:51.342, only for Oliveira to edge ahead on the Red Bull Ajo KTM. Their performances were soon put into context by Bagnaia though who clocked the first sub-1:51 lap, before going to set four other laps in the 1:50 range.
Three of them would have been enough for pole in their own right but Bagnaia’s 1:50.759 on lap six proved the pick of the bunch. Fabio Quartararo, the fastest rider in morning practice, edged out Lecuona for second but Oliveira tumbled down the order after failing to improve on his second timed lap. Instead, Marcel Schrotter will head the second row after leaping up the order in the final five minutes while Thailand polesitter Lorenzo Baldassarri snatched fifth with the final lap of the afternoon.
Alex Marquez will start sixth despite a horrendous high-side on Friday morning which threatened to rule him out of the weekend while Xavi Vierge heads row three, just ahead of home favourite Tetsuta Nagashima and the frustrated Oliveira.
Moto2 Motul Grand Prix of Japan (Qualifying)
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