Bradley Smith secured his ninth front row start of the season for tomorrow’s Japanese 125GP at the Twin Ring Motegi.
The British teenager will start round 13 of this year’s world championship from third on the grid, a best time of 1.59.026 no match though for the blistering pace set by Spanish pairing Marc Marquez and Nicolas Terol.
Smith led qualifying in the opening stages by over 0.6s before Derbi rider Marquez assumed control with a 1.58.611. That put him just 0.076s clear of Oxfordshire rider Smith, but Marquez then produced a stunning series of laps to comfortably claim his ninth pole position of the campaign.
Seven minutes remained when he logged his best time of 1.58.030 to move a massive 0.888s ahead of title rival Terol.
Terol, who hasn’t claimed a pole position since the third round of the season in Le Mans, posted a 1.58.447 on his final lap but that only cut Marquez’s advantage to 0.417s.
Marquez’s best time was a massive 0.996s faster than Smith who finished 0.579s adrift of Aspar Aprilia team-mate Terol.
German rider Sandro Cortese completes the front row after a lap of 1.59.102 beat home favourite Tomoyoshi Koyama by just 0.107s.
Cortese was only 0.076s from dropping Smith back down to fourth.
Just 11-points split the top three in the rankings with Terol holding a slender six-point advantage over Pol Espargaro and Marquez a further five-points adrift.
Espargaro, who crashed twice in practice yesterday, had another difficult session and will start from a lowly seventh place on the grid. His best time of 1.59.873 was 1.843s off pole and seventh was his worst qualifying performance of the season.
Danny Webb will hope to strengthen his bid for a top ten world championship challenge from 13th on the grid.
The 19-year-old clocked a best time of 2.00.634.
Red Bull Rookies Cup runner-up Danny Kent produced a brilliant performance on only his second Grand Prix appearance.
He will start the 20-lap race from 16th on the grid having set a best time of 2.01.109 on the Lambretta machine.
That was only 0.026s away from the top 15 but half-a-second faster than Lambretta regular Marco Ravaioli