Zarco bounces back with pole at Misano

Nakagami pushed back to P2 as the Frenchman impresses when it counts

Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) came out fighting in qualifying at Misano World Circuit, as the Frenchman took pole at the Italian venue after being outpaced throughout the weekend by Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), who lines up P2. Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Racing) completed the front row as the hot afternoon temperatures bore down on the intermediate class.

After Nakagami had proved the man to beat going into qualifying as the Japanese rider proved the only member of the exclusive 1:37 club throughout the weekend, it was Baldassarri and Zarco who first got into that bracket as Moto2™ qualifying got underway. Championship contender Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) was initially just inside the top ten as he struggled somewhat with his healing collarbone, with fellow title rival Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) showing a sudden improvement as the Brit pushed up into P4.

Zarco, who won at the venue in 2015, set himself up well to repeat the feat in 2016 as the Frenchman came out the blocks quickest to top the session and will start from his fourth pole position of the year. Putting in an immediate 1:37 and consistently lapping in the same bracket, the reigning champion looks ominous once again as he looks to defend his 10-point lead in the standings.

Nakagami put up a good fight to try and topple the Frenchman at the top, but found himself less than a tenth back on the Ajo Motorsport rider's lap time by the end of qualifying, making it the only session the Assen winner has not yet led at the San Marino GP so far. With one of his best efforts also his last, he will be chasing the win on Sunday - and unlike Zarco counts on no pressure in the championship standings.

Lorenzo Baldassarri got off to a storming start and by the end of the session proved the only man left with the chance to take pole from the reigning champion, but the Italian just lost out as the lap went on and will have to settle for P3; a front row at his home GP nevertheless an impressive showing from the Forward Racing rider.

Sam Lowes recovered from some tough sessions at the San Marino GP to qualify fourth and keep his title hopes alive, with second Italian on the block Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) completing the top five. Silverstone winner Tom Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) had a solid session despite a wobble in the final minutes and will start P6, ahead of Dynavolt Intact GP rider Sandro Cortese.

Title challenger Alex Rins, who is riding for only the second race weekend since a collarbone break in training, will start from P8, with Italtrans Racing Team's Mattia Pasini impressing once again in P9. Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) completed the top ten, with Jonas Folger (Intact Dynavolt GP) and Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) just pushed out into P11 and P12 respectively.

Moto2™'s pivotal race in Misano begins at 12:20 local time (GMT+2), with only ten points in it at the top of the table and six races remaining.