Qualifying for the Moto3 and Moto2 races at the Circuit de Catalunya-Barcelona was a subdued and emotional affair following the passing of Moto2 Rider Luis Salom in practice on Friday.
With the paddock in shock and a sad cloud over the track – many of the riders from all the classes had called Luis a friend, been his team-mate or worked with him – with the permission of his family and some alterations to the track it was decided the race weekend should continue in his honour.
Here’s how qualifying went for the support classes, all of whom sported some kind of ‘Salom39’ or ‘Mexicano’ reference in memory of their colleague and friend.
Moto3 were the first to get a shot at qualifying on the new track layout and it was a very emotional Brad Binder who found something extra to honour his former team-mate and push ahead to snatch pole with a time of 1m 54.074s.
The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider and championship leader beat Niccolo Antonelli to the top spot by just 0,054s, with the Ongetta-Rivacold Honda rider fast on both of the track layouts run this weekend.
The Estrella Galicia bikes were so fast on the changed final sector they gave the impression they may have had the chance to run it before, but were just quick to adapt to the situation, with Jorge Navarro the best of the pair for the third and final front row spot.
Rookie Nicolo Bulega lead the way for the Sky Racing VR46 team in fourth, with 2015 pole man Enea Bastianini in fifth for Gresini. A late surge by Khairul Idham Pawi saw him move up to sixth in the final moments for Honda Team Asia.
Francesco Bagnaia was the top Mahindra rider for Aspar in seventh, Jules Danilo placed the second Ongetta bike inside the top ten in eighth, Aron Canet got swallowed by a rush of late fast laps as the filed got to grips with the changes leaving the Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider ninth and Romano Fenati’s final lap saw him complete the top ten.
Further down the timesheets Wild-card Albert Arenas impressed in 17th, Davide Pizzoli also rides this weekend and is 29th on the grid.
The Peugeot team are still hampered by clutch issues, John McPhee found a slipstream for 26th, while missing all of the extended practice with an electrical fault left Alexis Masbou 33rd.
Pole in the final session of the day was a clear battle between Johann Zarco and Alex Rins, with the Frenchman repeating his feat from last year to secure the position.
The Ajo Motorsport riders lap of 1m49. 179Ss remained strong enough to hold off his Spanish rival, but by just 0.035 as the Paginas Amarillas rider chipped away at his target.
They are joined on the front row by Garage Plus Interwetten rider Tom Luthi in third, with Taka Nakagami next on the timesheets in fourth for Idemitsu Honda Team Asia.
Championship leader Sam Lowes crashed but still set a time good enough for fifth aboard the Gresini and came close to bettering his effort on his return to track.
The British rider’s time just held off Axel Pons in sixth for AGR Team, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Alex Marquez in seventh and Forward man Lorenzo Baldassarri in eighth with times also very tight among all the rest of the top ten riders.
Marecl Schrotter claimed ninth on the grid on the second AGR bike with Sandro Cortese tenth for Dynavolt Intact GP.
Miguel Oliveira was the highest placing rookie in 15th for Leopard, his team-mate Danny Kent is back in 21st after crashing during the session.
Franco Morbidelli fell twice but still managed to put together a time good enough for 18th for EG 0,0 Marc VDS.
Remy Gardner returns with Tasca Racing, who parted company with Alessandro Tonucci after the Mugello round. The Australian starts 24th, Ramdan Rosli has a wild-card appearance, but is last on the grid.
There will be a minutes silence before tomorrows races in for Luis Salom.
For the full Moto3 result click here.
For the full Moto2 result click here.