Even a crash wasn’t enough to deny reigning Moto2 world champion Johann Zarco pole position for tomorrow’s Japanese Grand Prix, with the Ajo Motorsport falling in the closing stages of qualifying but retaining the top spot thanks to his earlier time.
Setting a new lap record en route to pole position, his day was enhanced even further by the struggles of title rival Alex Rins, who could do no better than 22nd on the grid for tomorrow.
"I'm very happy. On my last time across the line I didn’t see the flag, because I was concentrating on my bike. Unfortunately I made a mistake at the end, but it was not a problem because I already had the pole position in the bag. The entire qualifying session was very good for the whole team.
“The first stint was long and at a good pace, and the last time out with new tyres I was able to set a circuit record. We have a very good pace and are focused on having a good race. The strategy for tomorrow is to have the pace and confidence to win, but always use our heads. Getting on the podium, as long as I'm ahead of Rins, would also be good."
However, even though Rins might look out of contention, Zarco will have a battle on his hands not only from Thomas Luthi and Franco Morbidelli, who join him on the front row, but also from Brit Sam Lowes, who’s keen to keep his title challenge alive from fourth. Fellow Brit Danny Kent will start from 15th.