Marini slides his way to a superb Japan pole

Italian over a second clear of Fernandez in a damp Moto2™ qualifying, Marquez off the front row

Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) secured his first pole position of the season in sensational fashion after going over a second faster than anyone else in Moto2™ Q2 at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan. On a damp track, the Italian was untouchable as he heads to two FlexBox HP 40 machines of Augusto Fernandez and Lorenzo Baldassarri on the front row.

No more rain was falling at the Twin Ring Motegi for the intermediate class qualifying sessions, but the surface was still plenty damp enough for wet Dunlops. And it soon emerged that Marini was the man to beat, the VR46 Academy rider placed himself at the top of the standings, however, Baldassarri was less than a tenth off his compatriot. Fernandez, a Championship hopeful, then put himself in between the Italians on the provisional front row to sit 0.004 off Marini. However, the latter was about to get a wriggle on.

A 2:05.583 put Marini over half a second clear of second place Fernandez, with title chase leader Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) improving to P4 in the closing stages having lingered in the lower ends of the top 10. There was only one man who was setting red sector times though, and his name was Luca Marini. Remaining on wet tyres when the likes of Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) and Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) had pitted for slicks, the 22-year-old improved his time by 0.4 to stretch his advantage to over a second.

And that’s how it stayed at the pointy end of the grid. Marini will lead Fernandez and Baldassarri on the front row, with Championship leader Marquez spearheading the second row in P4. Q1 graduates Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) and Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) – a late crasher at Turn 1 – line up alongside Marquez. Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) qualified P7 in Japan, the Swiss rider sits just ahead of Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) who did well to stick in a late personal best lap having encountered an issue with his machine halfway through Q2. Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Gardner, who didn’t make it round in time to try a flying lap on the slick tyres at the end of the session, completes the top 10. Championship chasing Binder starts in a lowly P18, his worst since the Catalan GP.

A huge, potentially Championship defining Moto2™ encounter awaits on Sunday. The intermediate class will get their race underway at 13:20 local time (GMT+9), don’t miss it!

Top 10:
1. Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) - 2:00.985
2. Augusto Fernandez (FlexBox HP40) + 1.148
3. Lorenzo Baldassarri (FlexBox HP40) + 1.227
4. Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) + 1.321
5. Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) + 1.426
6. Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) + 1.450
7. Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) + 1.498
8. Marco Bezzechi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) + 1.573
9. Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) + 1.613
10. Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) + 1.702

Click here for the full results! 

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