Luca Marini lit up the Twin Ring Motegi with a special qualifying performance where he managed the rare feat of being over a second ahead of his rivals as he claimed pole position for the Moto2 Japanese Grand Prix after mastering the tricky conditions.

The Sky Racing Team VR46 rider, who won last time out in Thailand, saw his session get off to a less than perfect start when he forgot to put on his knee sliders - an issue soon spotted by Maverick Vinales, who informed him before he exited the pits.

There was then no looking back for the Kalex rider who went on to dominate the timesheets, continually dropping his own best lap to a final 2m 00.985s in the tricky, slippery conditions after the earlier wet weather.

Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP40) was the best of the rest - a huge 1.148s shy of the pole time, but after moving into second in the overall standings the Pons team rider is also well placed to attack Alex Marquez’s lead again with the Marc VDS man behind him on the grid and clearly frustrated to cross the line in fourth.

Fernandez's teammate Lorenzo Baldassarri splits the pair in third and completes the front row.

Jorge Navarro is still in with a shot at the title himself, he was the best of the non-Kalex riders after pushing his Speed Up to fifth.

Somikat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) held on to sixth to be top rookie despite a late tumble, with Tom Luthi moving up to seventh for Dynavolt Intact GP as the clock ticked down.

His teammate Marcel Schrotter starts ninth with the pair split by Marco Bezzecchi, the Red Bull Tech 3 man recovered from a bike issue mid-session to bounce back for eighth - he was also the top KTM rider.

Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) took tenth - he lead the session briefly at the start after coming through Q1 along with Navarro, Chantra and Bezzecchi, before his late gamble to swap to slicks was a little too late - there was not enough time to get around and start a flying lap.

Stefano Manzi made late progress but just missed out on a top ten start for MV Agusta Temporary Forward in eleventh.

The main Red Bull KTM Ajo team had a tough time, Jorge Martin was the best of the pair in 14th with Thai podium finisher Brad Binder down in 18th.

Sam Lowes was the top British rider in 15th for Gresini. Jake Dixon (Gaviota Angel Nieto Team) had topped the wet FP3, but like Ai Ogura before him in Moto3 he was immediately caught out by the lack of grip, with his fall badly damaging his bike and leaving him last with no time set.

 

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