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Zero to hero: Nakagami wins pole shootout on home soil

Japanese rider strikes late to fight it out at the front – taking pole on his final attempt

Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) will start from pole for his home Grand Prix after an incredible final shootout in qualifying at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan, snatching the honour from Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) on his final push as conditions went from marginal to slicks within the session. The Japanese rider had been well outside the top twenty in the initial stages but bounced back in style. Marquez starts from P2 after recovering from an early throttle problem, ahead of Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing), who was another to time his attack to perfection - taking his first front row start.

Moto2™ Nakagami takes pole on home turf

After some riders attempting to use slicks in the earlier MotoGP™ qualifying session, it looked set to be a dry shootout at the end of the session for the intermediate class – and it didn’t disappoint. The early pacesetters on slicks were Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and FP3’s fastest in the wet Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia), before the final battle came down to Nakagami vs Marquez vs Vierge – and Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team).

After all four crossed the line, it was Pasini who just missed the front row and took P4, joined on Row 2 by Oliveira and Syahrin. Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) and teammate Marcel Schrötter took P7 and P8, with Xavier Simeon (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2) and fastest rookie Augusto Fernandez (Speed Up Racing) completing the top ten.

Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer Racing) was eleventh, ahead of Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) – with Championship challenger Tom Lüthi (CarXpert Interwetten) having a difficult qualifying in P13. But the Swiss rider can take some heart from the position of his key rival for the crown, as Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) qualified in P15 – behind first Lüthi and Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) in P14. For full results, click here!

It will be a fight at the front at to the front on Sunday, with lights out at 12:20 (GMT +9).

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#JapaneseGP: Moto2™ Qualifying Practice