By Lisa Lewis

Mika Kallio scored his first ever Moto2 pole position on the penultimate lap of a tough qualifying battle for the Japanese Moto2 Grand Prix at Motegi, while title contenders Pol Espargaro and Scott Redding were pushed down the order.

There was much chopping and changing as the conditions altered. The spray remained on track as the sun finally arrived causing a dry line to appear, though the riders stayed on wet tyres and kept the times tight.

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Kallio was the most consistent and it paid off handing the Marc VDS rider, a three-time Motegi winner over the course of his career, his first Moto2 pole.

Also making the front row was fellow Kalex rider Xavier Simeon in second and former 2011 125cc Japanese Grand Prix winner Johann Zarco in third, both have previously finished on the podium this season.

Simone Corsi was the best placed Speed Up rider in fourth for NGM Mobile Racing.

Rafid Topan Sucipto, who holds the dubious honour of having crashed the most this season, looked at ease in the tricky conditions, and though he ran off onto the gravel and crashed just before the chequered he managed to hold on to an incredible fifth for his best qualifying to date.

Sixth went to Tito Rabat, the Tuenti HP 40 rider having slowly clawed his way up the timesheets over the course of the session.

Heading up the third row in seventh is Rabat's championship leading team-mate Espargaro who holds a 16 point lead over rival Redding. The Pons man failed to make the best of his chance to put space between himself and the Briton.

Redding impressed after fracturing his left radius in the Phillip Island qualifying session last Saturday.

The Marc VDS Man contained his injury and rode confidently to run as high as second at the half-hour remaining mark. He faltered slightly but will still be in a position to challenge from 15th on the grid, just 1.7s from the top time in awkward conditions.

"The wrist was a little painful, but it was more awkward to try and change the weight a little bit," said Redding. "I felt good in the rain, comfortable and fast, but as the track started to dry it got a bit greasy.

"It meant the chance of a crash increased and that's the last thing I need my first time back on the bike after the crash, so I was a bit more cautious.

"Finishing P15 was good enough for me today and now I'm looking forward to the race tomorrow. If it's dry, as the forecast says, then I need to score points. Top ten is the goal, but I think it's possible to finish a little higher than that. We will see."

Dominique Aegerter will be looking to keep his long run of points finishes on the go from eighth for the Technomag carXpert team.

Last seasons Moto3 Motegi race winner Danny Kent found some pace to secure a ninth place grid slot for Tech3.

Tenth went to early session leader Mattia Pasini.

Gino Rea continues his strong run as a replacement rider at the Arginano & Gines team and starts from 14th position.

Japanese rider Tetsuta Nagashima replaces Mike Di Meglio at JiR and qualified in 16th as the highest placing home rider despite a crash.

Taka Nakagami had an exceptionally poor qualifying session at his home track, the Italtrans rider could only muster the 23rd best time.

Double race-winner this year Nico Terol also found the going tough and starts in 25th for Aspar.