Nagashima takes maiden pole, Chantra claims P3

Moto2™ qualifying sprung a few surprises as we see Binder sandwiched by Japanese and Thai riders on the front row

Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) picked up a magnificent maiden Moto2™ pole position after setting a 1:28.718 in Q2 at the myWorld Motorrad Grand Prix von Österreich, the Japanese rider beats Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) as Thailand’s Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) claims a stunning first front-row start.

The forecasted storm stayed away as sunny skies greeted the intermediate class riders for Q1 and Q2 at the Red Bull Ring, and we were to witness a few surprises. It was no surprise to see the likes of Iker Lecuona (American Racing KTM) and Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) come through the first part of qualifying though as 18 riders battled it out for pole position.

Immediately it was Binder who was setting the pace as the South African set about trying to give KTM a home GP pole, but Nagashima had been quick all weekend and the Japanese rider wasn’t messing about in Q2 – the Kalex rider went to P1 on his third flying lap as Chantra slammed in a lap good enough for provisional P3. But what could Championship leader Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) do? The Spaniard was on the fringes of the top 10 and went to fifth, but his lap time was cancelled for exceeding track limits as the Moto2™ riders struggled to go quicker than their early benchmark laps.

So did Nagashima, Binder and Chantra have the front row covered? Maybe, but Championship protagonist Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) was on a good lap. The Swiss rider was just over a tenth off at the third split, however, he would slot into fourth. Then, Czech GP podium finisher Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) was looking feisty on his last lap. Could the Italian spoil a Japanese pole position or Thai front-row party? No, Bastanini demoted Lüthi to P5 as he took P4 – the front row remained the same as it was jubilation for Nagashima and Chantra, the latter picking up Thailand’s first front row start since Ratthapark Wilairot secured P2 in the Moto2™ class at Assen in 2010.

Binder sounds confident launching from P2 as he and KTM hope for Austrian GP glory, but he looks like he will have company in the form of Bastianini, Lüthi and Lorenzo Baldassarri (FlexBox HP 40) from the second row, as well as the men joining him on the front row. Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) spearheads the third row on the Austrian GP grid, the Spaniard is joined by compatriot Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) and Nagashima’s teammate Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team). Marini claims P10 after coming through Q1, with Marquez having plenty to do from P11 on the grid.

Can the Championship leader keep up his formidable form? A Moto2™ epic looks set to take place at the Red Bull Ring on Sunday, with 0.4 splitting the top 15. Tune in for the intermediate class race at 12:20 local time (GMT+2).

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