Qatar MotoGP: Toni Elias claims historic Moto2 pole

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Spaniard Toni Elias created a slice of history last night as the first rider ever to claim a Moto2 pole position.

Elias, who has been moving around the Losail International Circuit in Qatar on crutches after breaking his left hand and ankle in a testing crash three weeks ago, rode his Gresini Moriwaki machine to a best time of 2.01.904.

That beat fellow Spaniard Julian Simon on the Aspar RSV machine by just 0.128s in a fiercely fought first qualifying session for the first 600cc four-stroke clash.

Just 1.4s split the top 24 riders and five different chassis featured in the top five as impressive German Stefan Bradl (Suter MMX) claimed third place and former MotoGP podium finisher Alex de Angelis (Scot) completed the front row. 

Elias said: “I’m happy and surprised because I didn’t expect to go so fast after this evening’s free practice, which didn’t go well – partly due to my physical condition but also partly due to the set-up.

"The team worked hard to give me an easier bike to ride and then I was lucky to get behind Simon, who I was able to follow. I gave it everything and ended up with a magnificent lap time. Honestly speaking when I was back at home starting my rehabilitation I was thinking it would be hard to even make it out to Qatar and when I eventually made it out here I was struggling.

"Psychologically I have had to be really strong and I’ve adapted to the situation. I’m really happy. ”

Tech 3 rider Yuki Takahashi was fifth fastest and British rider Scott Redding had a tough day after he’d stormed to a superb second place in yesterday’s opening practice session.

The Gloucestershire rider ended up 17th fastest on the Marc VDS Racing Suter MMX machine and his time of 2.03.129 was only 1.251s away from pole position.
The 17-year-old though said: “We had problems right from the start today. My arm was quite sore this morning, but the biggest problem was with the rear brake; I just couldn't use it to stabilise the bike on corner entry, which slowed me down.

"Then, right at the beginning of qualifying, the chatter that we thought we'd eliminated during testing reappeared with a vengeance. I tried to ride round it by opening the throttle on corner entry and holding the bike back with the rear brake, but then the brake problems reappeared.

"In the end I just had to get my head down, try and find a clear space on what was a very crowded track and do the best that I could. If I can get a good start in the race and avoid any problems at turn one, then I hope we can leave here tomorrow with a reasonable result."

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Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt