Sepang Moto2: Pol Espargaro takes pole in quiet session
Pol Espargaro beat Scott Redding and champion-elect Marc Marquez to pole position in an unusually-paced Moto2 qualifying session at Sepang
Rising temperature and fading grip meant there was no late shoot-out, with the majority of the fastest times being set in the opening 20 minutes.
Pons Kalex rider Espargaro was one of the few to improve in the final minutes, but he was already on provisional pole when he became the first man to dip into the 2m06s bracket.
Redding (Marc VDS Kalex) and Marquez (Molau Suter), in contrast, both set their fastest times on only their third tour of the track.
Redding's 2m07.399s, which put him top after eight minutes, proved good enough for second come the chequered flag.
Marquez sealed third in similar fashion, ending the session six tenths down on Espargaro.
The former effectively needs only to finish with decent points in order to seal this year's Moto2 crown.
The opposite is true of the championship third-place man Andrea Iannone, who struggled at Motegi and fared poorly again, qualifying just 11th.
In his absence the second row of the grid was claimed by Takaaki Nakagami (Italtrans Kalex), Johann Zarco (JIR Motobi) and Tech 3's Bradley Smith, riding with two broken toes on his left foot.
The odd conditions also led to several crashes, including Toni Elias and Nico Terol.
The latter at least had the comfort of being 17th fastest when he fell - and with precious few improvements his fall only cost him three spots.
Elias crashed in the opening minutes, and will therefore start down in 28th.
Pos Rider Team/Bike Time Gap 1. Pol Espargaro Pons Kalex 2m06.962s 2. Scott Redding Marc VDS Kalex 2m07.399s + 0.437s 3. Marc Marquez Monlau Suter 2m07.566s + 0.604s 4. Takaaki Nakagami Italtrans Kalex 2m07.617s + 0.655s 5. Johann Zarco JIR Motobi 2m07.672s + 0.710s 6. Bradley Smith Tech 3 2m07.721s + 0.759s 7. Esteve Rabat Pons Kalex 2m07.774s + 0.812s 8. Thomas Luthi Paddock Suter 2m07.832s + 0.870s 9. Alex de Angelis Forward FTR 2m07.849s + 0.887s 10. Dominique Aegerter Technomag-CIP Suter 2m07.872s + 0.910s 11. Andrea Iannone Speed Master Speed Up 2m08.021s + 1.059s 12. Simone Corsi Ioda FTR 2m08.225s + 1.263s 13. Julian Simon Avintia Suter 2m08.327s + 1.365s 14. Mike di Meglio Kiefer Kalex 2m08.417s + 1.455s 15. Mika Kallio Marc VDS Kalex 2m08.599s + 1.637s 16. Ratthapark Wilairot Gresini Suter 2m08.675s + 1.713s 17. Axel Pons Pons Kalex 2m08.703s + 1.741s 18. Jordi Torres Aspar Suter 2m08.705s + 1.743s 19. Anthony West QMMF Speed Up 2m08.739s + 1.777s 20. Nicolas Terol Aspar Suter 2m08.798s + 1.836s 21. Tomoyoshi Koyama Technomag-CIP Suter 2m08.906s + 1.944s 22. Gino Rea Gresini Suter 2m09.021s + 2.059s 23. Yuki Takahashi Forward FTR 2m09.053s + 2.091s 24. Xavier Simeon Tech 3 2m09.154s + 2.192s 25. Marcel Schrotter SAG Bimota 2m09.484s + 2.522s 26. Ricard Cardus Arguinano AJR 2m09.490s + 2.528s 27. Hafizh Syahrin Raceline FTR 2m09.515s + 2.553s 28. Toni Elias Italtrans Kalex 2m09.606s + 2.644s 29. Andrea Andreozzi Speed Master Speed Up 2m10.151s + 3.189s 30. Jesko Raffin Team Switzerland Kalex 2m11.227s + 4.265s 31. Elena Rosell QMMF Speed Up 2m11.669s + 4.707s 32. Marco Colandrea SAG FTR 2m11.751s + 4.789s 33. Eric Granado JIR Motobi 2m13.144s + 6.182s
Motegi Moto2: Marc Marquez flies from back to victory
Moto2: Alex de Angelis wins in rain as Marc Marquez crashes