British teenager Danny Kent stormed to a sensational first Grand Prix pole position at the Twin Ring Motegi in Japan earlier today.
In a dramatic finish to this afternoon’s Moto3 qualifying session, Kent powered his Red Bull KTM machine to pole with a best time of 1.58.371.
That put the 18-year-old 0.203s clear of pre-season Moto3 title favourite Maverick Vinales after it had looked like Kent would be denied pole in the closing stages.
He had moved into first position with a lap of 1.58.804 and he held top spot until just 15 seconds were left on the clock.
German teammate and world championship leader Sandro Cortese bumped him back to second with a lap of 1.58.669.
Kent, who has qualified in second place in three races this season, wasn’t to be denied and he produced a stunning last lap behind Vinales to grab pole position.
Spaniard Vinales will start second after he set a best time of 1.58.574 and the FTR-Honda rider knows nothing less than a win will suffice to keep his fading world title hopes alive.
He trails Cortese by a massive 51-points going into tomorrow’s race. Cortese will start from third knowing that if he is victorious in tomorrow’s 20-lap race and Vinales doesn’t finish then he will be crowned inaugural Moto3 world champion.
His best time of 1.58.669 secured him a front row start ahead of Malaysian Zulfahmi Khairuddin.
British rider John McPhee will start his first Japanese Grand Prix from 26th. The Scot set a best time of 2.00.755. Kent rider Danny Webb had an afternoon to forget after he could only qualify his Mahindra machine in a lowly 32nd place.
Only two riders were slower than Webb and his best time of 2.02.362 left him almost four seconds off the pace.