First ever 1:49 lap of the Japanese venue sees Frenchman wrestle back control from Luthi – with Rins in P22
Great conditions remained over the Twin Ring Motegi in Japan as the intermediate class followed MotoGP™ out on track – and it was reigning Champion Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) who topped the timesheets in qualifying with a new record and the first 1:49 around the circuit. The Frenchman then took a tumble at Turn 3 to end his session soon after. The man one point behind the reigning Champion in the title fight, Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40), suffered through a tough day after a crash on Friday and will line up P22.
Tom Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) just lost out in the final seconds after holding onto provisional pole for much of the session, with the Swiss veteran having led the charge on Saturday morning and race pace looking ominous. Luthi took a stunning win in 2014 – before Zarco managed the same last season. The first pacesetter of the qualifying session, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Franco Morbidelli, continued his great form with another front row in P3.
Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) heads the second row after finding a good chunk of time in qualifying, with the Brit hoping to make title gains as he sits 40 points back from Zarco. Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) impressed to take P5, ahead of Axel Pons (AGR Team) in sixth to complete the second row.
Home hero Takaaki Nakagami (Ajo Motorsport) starts the Japanese GP from P7 after proving fastest on Friday morning, ahead of Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) and Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) to complete row three. Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) completed the top ten.
Moto2™ head out for the race at 12:20 local time (GMT+9), with one point separating Zarco and Rins – and the Spaniard facing a painful fight back from P22.
Moto2™ Qualifying Results
1 – Johann Zarco (FRA) KALEX 1’49.961
2 – Thomas Lüthi (SWI) KALEX +0.067
3 – Franco Morbidelli (ITA) KALEX + 0.356