The rain flag arrived in tandem with the first qualifying session of the day but riders had to assume that conditions at any point might be the best they would get. However, drama started as early as the first five minutes of Q1, when wildcard Yanni Shaw dropped fluid on track and turned Honda Corner into a bowling alley. Fortunately no physical harm was done but the subsequent red flag and lengthy clean-up operation caused delay to all of the afternoon’s action. About half an hour later, the track was back to a usable state and the dark clouds had come and gone, leaving a wet but drying surface. By the time Q2 came around, the dry line was too tempting to refuse but weather was not making up its mind for long.
With times improving together with conditions all throughout the session, Marcos Ramirez nailed his timing to score his very first pole position in the lightweight class. The Leopard rider will be playing the team game off the line on Sunday and trying to hold back Aron Canet, the championship hopeful missing out on pole for two tenths of a second. Albert Arenas continues his excellent run of form in the flyaways with yet another front row start.
John McPhee opens row two from Kaito Toba, while Lorenzo Dalla Porta will be fighting to secure the world title from sixth on the grid. Italians Andrea Migno and Romano Fenati were the final riders to post a time within a second of pole and they start ahead of rookie Celestino Vietti on row three. Dennis Foggia, Gabriel Rodrigo and Tatsuki Suzuki make up row five, while a fuel blunder cost Tony Arbolino a potential pole after the Italian escaped Q1 and led the way early in Q2. The VNE Snipers rider had to make do with 13th, ahead of a career best qualifying result for Tom Booth-Amos in 14th. Jaume Masia was one of the late fallers in Q2, down in turn 8 and 15th grid spot.
The risk did not pay off for Niccolo Antonelli either, the SIC58 rider taking a fast tumble at turn one and qualifying 18th. Jakub Kornfeil was the first to miss out in Q1 and will have a 9-place grid penalty applied to his 19th qualifying position due to his adventures in Japan. The likes of Darryn Binder and Alonso Lopez were victims of early Q1 conditions and failed to set a time, due to start the race from the back of the grid.
|6||48||Lorenzo DALLA PORTA||Honda||1'39.683||0.707||0.190|
|28||15||Rogan CHANDLER||Kalex KTM||1'55.110||10.232||6.013|
|9||Yanni SHAW||Kalex KTM|