Red Bull KTM Ajo's Raul Fernandez has clinched Moto3™ pole position for the third time in 2020 but he left it late to get the job done at the Tissot Emilia Romagna and Rimini Riviera Grand Prix. With just 30 seconds remaining on the clock, the Spaniard stole pole away from Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) with fellow Italian Andrea Migno (SKY Racing Team VR46) taking the final front row spot.
There was drama earlier in the afternoon though when last weekend's Misano winner John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing) failed to make it out of Q1 and, as a result, will start Sunday's Round 8 of the lightweight class championship from 20th on the grid.
Arbolino progressed through and then held provisional pole with 30 seconds left in Q2 before it was all change as the final flying laps came in. Fernandez put together a 1:41.705, six tenths adrift of Celestino Vietti's (SKY Racing Team VR46) new outright lap record set in FP3 on Saturday morning, to steal top spot away from the Italian.
The chequered flag was now out with Vietti just about clinging on to the final front row place before then his teammate, Migno, took it away from him and then he was dropped to fifth as World Championship leader Albert Arenas (Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3) recovering from 16th to take 4th.
The second row of the grid was completed by Sterilgarda Max Racing Team's Romano Fenati meaning the Italian has secured back-to-back grid slots on the front two rows of the grid for the first time since the Japanese and Australian Grands Prix back in 2017.
???? @TatsukiSuzuki24's pole position challenge ends with this highside!— MotoGP™???? (@MotoGP) September 19, 2020
The Japanese rider is back on his feet after @TonyArbolino narrowly avoided him! ????#EmiliaRomagnaGP ???? pic.twitter.com/dFejDt3KV2
Fronting row three of the grid on Sunday will be Red Bull KTM Ajo's Kaito Toba after the Japanese rider moved through from Q1. He will be joined there by SIC58 Squadra Corse's Tatsuki Suzuki, who required a trip to the medical centre following a monstrous highside at Turn 5, and Leopard Racing's Jaume Masia.
Arenas will look to defend his title lead with his closest rivals both in a bit of bother. Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia) is five points back but starts 12th, whilst the aforementioned will have to come up with some similar heroics to chip away at the 14 point deficit from 20th. It's certainly all to play for in Sunday's Moto3™ race at 11:00 local time (GMT+2).
1. Raul Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) – 1:41.705
2. Tony Arbolino (Rivacold Snipers Team) + 0.088
3. Andrea Migno (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 0.092
4. Albert Arenas (Gaviota Aspar Team Moto3) + 0.146
5. Celestino Vietti (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 0.168
6. Romano Fenati (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) + 0.256
7. Kaito Toba (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.258
8. Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) + 0.266
9. Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) + 0.339
10. Jeremy Alcoba (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) + 0.424