Moto2™ qualifying at the Motul Grand Prix of Japan saw Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia (SKY Racing Team VR46) take his sixth pole position of the season by 0.165 over second place Fabio Quartararo (MB Conveyors – Speed Up), with Iker Lecuona (Swiss Innovative Investors) lining up on the front row for the first time in his Grand Prix career. Bagnaia’s form from pole has been dominant this season, with that a warning shot for the field.
Bagnaia didn’t top any of the Free Practice sessions ahead of qualifying at the Twin Ring Motegi but managed to string the fastest lap together when it counted most, ensuring he starts from the front row for the first time since Misano. Quartararo had been fastest in FP3 on Saturday morning, meanwhile, but he couldn’t quite better the early benchmark of 1:50.759. Nonetheless, the Frenchman grabs his best qualifying result since he secured pole at the Catalan GP and Friday’s fastest Lecuona made it his best ever qualifying to start alongside Quartararo.
Just behind them, Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) will launch from the front of the second row in fourth in yet another strong showing for the German, with Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40) improving his time late in the session to earn himself a P5 starting position. After his huge FP1 crash, Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) will aim to fight for the podium on a track he claimed victory at last season from P6 on the grid. The man second that day is the rider to start behind the Spaniard on the grid: future teammate Xavi Vierge (Dynavolt Intact GP). P7 for the Spaniard means a best grid position since the German GP, at the head of Row 3. Home rider Tetsuta Nagashima (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) took a brilliant P8 after being inside the top ten in every session in Motegi, edging out Championship challenger Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo), who has some work to do from ninth. His teammate Brad Binder completed the top ten fastest after a more difficult weekend so far for the South African.
With a sizeable margin of points in his pocket, Bagnaia could play it safe on Sunday but he says his plan is to push from the off. Can Oliveira close him down early doors? Or will the likes of Quartararo manage to put a dent in that plan when the lights go out? Find out on Sunday at 12:20 (GMT +9).
Moto2™ Qualifying Results
1 – Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) KALEX 1’50.759
2 – Fabio Quartararo (FRA) SPEED UP +0.165
3 – Iker Lecuona (SPA) KTM +0.231
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