Johann Zarco left it late to defeat his main Motegi rival Tom Luthi, putting in another record lap to steal pole at the Twin Ring circuit ahead of qualifying for the Japanese Moto2 Grand Prix.

The Ajo Motorsport rider, who has already been declared Moto2 champion for 2015 after Tito Rabat withdrew from the Motegi action following his training accident in Almeria, had set the early pace before the Frenchman and Luthi began trading record laps in a late war for pole.

It was to be Zarco's 1m 50.339s time which held firm by 0.171s as the final minutes ran down - a time over half a second faster than Rabat's old record best.

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Jonas Folger used every inch of the track as he jumped into the third and final front row spot for the AGR Team with his best time, holding on as the clock ticked into the final ten minutes.

The cooler conditions were a good fit for the Speed Up team and Sam Lowes was a constant fixture towards the top of the timesheets, although he just failed on his final lap to find that little bit extra needed for a front row start.

The Briton is joined on row two by Paginas Amarillas HP 40's impressive rookie Alex Rins in fifth and an equally exciting performance from Hafizh Syahrin in sixth.

The Petronas Raceline Malaysia rider also provided some great entertainment with a magnificent save early in the session at Turn 11 as track conditions became trickier when the skies became dark and the tarmac cooled.

Taka Nakagami is the only regular Japanese rider in the Moto2 class and will line up in for his home grand prix in seventh for the Idemitsu Team.

Joining him on row three are AGR man Axel Pons in eighth, after crashing three times over the practice sessions but completing a clean session when it counted, with Dynavolt Intact GP rider Sandro Cortese ninth.

Lorenzo Baldassarri secured the final top ten spot. His forward racing team-mate Simone Corsi was a rare faller in Moto2 qualifying, leaving him to plummet down to 16th.

Josh Hook sits in for the injured Dominique Aegerter who misses his first Moto2 Grand Prix after clocking up 100 starts before picking up his injury in the Aragon crash where he was taken out by Xavier Simeon. Australian rider Hook starts a credible 23rd in his Moto2 debut.

There are also wild-cards for experienced Japanese riders Yuki Takahashi and Tomoyoshi Koyama who were 25th and 29th respectively on their return to the world championship scene.