Xavier Simeon's penultimate lap saw him snatch up the second pole of his career in a close COTA qualifying - the top 15 all within a second of the Belgian's new lap record.

The Federal Oil Gresini rider's best of 2m 09.888 aboard his Kalex saw him edge out long time leader Sam Lowes by a margin of just 0.05 of a second.

Speed Up rider Lowes, battered and bruised after his practice falls, saw the time he set on just his fifth lap hold out for second and only just missed out on pole, once again falling just after he set his best lap with awkward chatter sending him on a trip into the gravel.

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Lowes remained the only other rider to set a sub-2minute
10 second lap time.

Tito Rabat claimed the third and final front row spot for EG 0,0 Marc VDS, the Kalex man once again putting in a huge amount of laps in his search for speed.

Johann Zarco had set the pace in the final practice session but the Ajo Motorsport man's last-lap dash could only push him up to fourth.

Joining him on the second row are Franco Morbidelli (Italtrans Racing), who failed to improve after a late crash with Marcel Schrotter and Taka Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) , who saw his best lap ruined when he hit traffic.

Julian Simon starts seventh on the QMMF Speed Up ahead of the top qualifying rookie Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40), who easily saw of his main rival for the title - Alex Alex Marquez - who starts down in 23rd after another tough outing for the Moto3 reigning champion.

Dominique Aegerter used several runs shadowing Tito Rabat to shorten his learning curve on the Technomag Racing Interwetten Kalex and regained some of his old form to take ninth. Marcel Schrotter held onto a top ten start for Tech 3 despite his late crash.

Qatar race winner Jonas Folger will have to make inroads in the race for another podium finish after qualifying down the order in 19th.

There were early crashes for Robin Mulhauser, Ricky Cardus and Lorenzo Baldassarri, while Tom Luthi had a long journey back to the pits after his bike failed. He had further bike issues late in the session but persevered for 17th on the grid.

A late crash for Azlan Shah saw some great avoidance moves from Rins as he weaved past the out-of-control and riderless bike. Sandro Cortese was the final faller while chasing around Zarco.

AGR Team rider Axel Pons will sit out the race in Austin after being withdrawn because of his scaphoid injury.