Nicolo Bulega had already found his way to the top of the timesheets before a run off into the gravel spurred him on to return and cut his time further to remove the pressure and guarantee pole for the Moto3 Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi.

The Sky Racing Team VR46 riders best of 2m 09.320s secured the top spot, giving the Italian his first pole of the season - which is just the second time he has sat on the top spot on the grid in his career.

The KTM rider is joined on the front row by fellow Italian Niccolo Antonelli, who consistently improved over the course of the session for Red Bull KTM Ajo to be just 0.272s behind for his first front row start of the year, and Honda man Aron Canet, who’s late pace elevated him to third for Estrella Galicia 0,0.

The Spaniard displaced Marco Bezzecchi, who will instead lead off row two from fourth after impressing on the CIP Mahindra in the tricky cold and damp conditions, scoring his best qualifying result to date in the process.

Lining up alongside him are Enea Bastianini on the second Estrella Galicia entry in fifth and main title challenger Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers) who will be aiming for a much needed win from sixth.

A quiet session was much improved by a final flying lap for Jorge Martin, moving the Gresini rider into seventh, Gabriel Rodrigo was just behind on times so starts eighth on the grid for RBA.

FP3 session leader Manuel Pagliani was able to equal his best ever grid placing on the second CIP Mahindra entry marking a strong session from the team.

The top ten was completed by Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46) who was one of two riders only allowed to take part in the final twenty minutes of the session as a penalty following their qualifying behaviour in Aragon (the second, Lorenzo Dalla Porta starts 27th).

Championship leader Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) has looked unsettled since his arrival in Japan for the beginning of the flyaways and his first chance at securing the title, that was reflected in his qualifying - he could only manage a best of 14th and has a six place grid penalty from Aragon to be added.

Tatsuki Suzuki was the best of the home riders in 15th for SIC58 Squadra Corse.

John McPhee also found the session a struggle on the lone British Talent Team entry, he qualified down in 18th.

A fall for Albert Arenas, which saw him clutching his wrist after punching into the gravel as he tumbled at Victory Corner not only saw him out of front row contention but left him with a fractured right hand and out of the rest of the race weekend.

There were also crashes for Darryn Binder, Nakarin Atiratphuvapat and wild-card entry Tom Toparis (Cube Racing).

 

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