|Lowes showed his true potential in qualifying
Photo: Steve English
Moto3 got the Saturday qualifying sessions under way in Mugello and despite a crash Alex Rins held on to take pole in a session where traffic on track had a big influence on times.
The Estrella Galicia rider set the fastest lap ever on a Moto3 bike at Mugello on the way to his second pole position of the season.
Almost as soon as he had topped the timesheets Rins found himself in the gravel but a massive effort by both rider and team; Rins pushing the bike back to the pits himself and his mechanics getting it fixed in less than ten minutes; meant he was afforded the chance to defend his time.
In the end there was no need. Red Bull KTM Ajo rider and championship leader Jack Miller kept his perfect front row start record in second but was angered by the sheer number of riders trying to gain an advantage by tailing him – at one point as many as nineteen.
Jakub Kornfeil took his first ever front row start, making the most of the smallest of clear gaps on track and using him momentum to push for third for the Calvo Team.
That late lap pushed the top Italian rider on the day; Romano Fenati; into fourth.
The Sky Racing VR46 team rider is joined on the second row by the most experienced man in the field, Alexis Masbou in fifth and Alex Marquez, not able to match his team-mate Alex Rins for pace, in sixth.
Rookie Karel Hanika secured his best qualifying position to date with seventh on the second Red Bull KTM Ajo machine, ahead of Juanfran Guevara who fought up to eighth for the Mapfre Aspar outfit.
Brad Binder’s ninth place signalled the start of an improvement at Mahindra, who have had a lacklustre start to the season reportedly from transmission issues.
The final spot inside the top ten went to Efren Vazquez, just one place ahead of his British team-mate at SaxoPrint-RTG; John McPhee; who starts eleventh.
Fellow Brit Danny Kent struggled and placed his Husqvarna in 26th.
Moto2 saw a dominant Tito Rabat set the fastest time after just four laps on his Marc VDS Kalex machine with the Spaniards time only looking vulnerable in the closing stages after a strong surge from British rider Sam Lowes.
The Supersport champion and class rookie gave the Speed Up team a wonderful performance on their home track on the way to his best qualifying result since joining the Moto2 paddock this year.
The grid continued to have a more unusual make up with Sandro Cortese completing the front row, sealing third spot for the Dynavolt Intact GP team.
Jonas Folger did all he could to tame his shuddering AGR Team bike for fourth. Joining the German on the second row are Dominique Aegerter, who recovered late to take fifth spot for Technomag carXpert and Pons HP 40 rider Luis Salom in sixth, way ahead of his frustrated team-mate Maverick Vinales in sixteenth.
Jordi Torres had his first positive showing in qualifying this season in seventh for Aspar, with Franco Morbidelli also setting his best in eighth for the Italtrans Team.
Ninth spot on the grid goes to Interwetten rider Tom Luthi, while a late lap from Marcel Schrotter saw him squeeze in to tenth aboard his Tech3 machine.
Le Mans race winner Mika Kallio has left himself some work to do for a repeat from eleventh on the grid.
Gino Rea starts 28th for AGT REA Racing.