By Lisa Lewis

Pol Espargaro took pole position aboard his Pons 40 HP Tuenti (Kalex) for round nine of the Moto2 championship at Mugello on Saturday.

Espargaro managed to qualify top despite having ligament damage and swelling from his crash with Johann Zarco in the third practice session before qualifying on Saturday morning, he thanked the medical team for helping him be fit enough to race and his team for getting the bike fixed in time.

The number 40 rider had been fast all weekend before the incident, topping the combined practice times in the run up to qualifying.

The Spaniards lap of 1:52.369 right at the end of the session beat his fellow countryman Marc Marquez into second by 0.069, Marquez had looked dominant when he set his fastest lap early in the session and it stood until it was toppled by Espargaro with just seconds left on the clock.

Zarco on the JIR Moto2 (Motobi) slipstreamed Redding and Espargaro to qualify third which would have given him his first ever front row start, however he faces a 15 place grid penalty imposed by Race Direction for his collision with Espargaro in the final practice session, which will see him 18th on the grid tomorrow.

Andrea Iannone who is running a special red 'Joe the fireman' livery on the Speed Master (Speed Up) will inherit that third, having finished the session in fourth, the highest placed Italian on the grid for his home Grand Prix.

San Marino rider Alex De Angelis continues to see improvements since NGM Mobile Forward Racing changed to FTR qualifying in fifth, while Tom Luthi finished the session sixth on the Interwetten-Paddock Suter.

Bradley Smith, who is running a new aerodynamic bodywork on the Tech3 from this weekend, showed improvements immediately and was competitive in the session and qualified in seventh despite a late crash, while fellow Brit Scott Redding's late effort moved him up to eighth aboard the Marc VDS (Kalex).

Tito Rabat, Espargaro's team mate at Pons 40 HP Tueni, finished qualifying in ninth with Japanese rider Takaai Nakagami revisiting the form he showed earlier in the season in tenth for the Italtrans team.

Nico Terol had a better qualifying session in 11th for the Mapfre Aspar Team, former 125cc champion Julian Simon was 19th for Blusens Avintia and winner of the debut Moto2 season Toni Elias was down in 23rd on the Aspar.

Gino Rea finished the session in 25th for Federal Oil Gresini (Suter).

Mike Di Meglio was in 11th when he crashed out in his first weekend on the Cresto Guide MZ Racing bike and eventually qualified 17th, while Ant West is still learning his new Speed Up chassis finishing 27th for QMMF.


1. Pol Espargaro SPA (Kalex) 1m 52.369s
2. Marc Marquez SPA (Suter) 1m 52.438s
3. Johann Zarco FRA (MotoBI) 1m 52.781s
4. Andrea Iannone ITA (Speed Up) 1m 52.835s
5. Alex De Angelis RSM (FTR) 1m 52.883s
6. Thomas Luthi SWI (Suter) 1m 52.946s
7. Bradley Smith GBR (Tech 3) 1m 53.029s
8. Scott Redding GBR (Kalex) 1m 53.059s
9. Esteve Rabat SPA (Kalex) 1m 53.090s
10. Takaaki Nakagami JPN (Kalex) 1m 53.152s
11. Nicolas Terol SPA (Suter) 1m 53.258s
12. Simone Corsi ITA (FTR) 1m 53.266s
13. Dominique Aegerter SWI (Suter) 1m 53.319s
14. Yuki Takahashi JPN (FTR) 1m 53.409s
15. Claudio Corti ITA (Kalex) 1m 53.509s