Michele Pirro tops the rain-hit Valencia qualifying session to score his first pole


Gresini Racing's Michele Pirro topped the rain-hit Moto2 qualifying session to score his first pole position in the class at Valencia, Spain.

"Race your life" was the message on the side of Team Gresini Moto2 bikes, a tribute to the late, great Marco Simoncelli, who left an indelible mark on motorcycle racing.

Fausto Gresini said, "The Moto2 team's tribute to 'Super Sic' was something we had to do and the "Race your life" graphic is very nice. I hope that we can add to it with some good results that pay tribute to Marco. Both Pirro and Takahashi are pushing hard and I am sure they will give their best on Sunday."

The session had got underway on a dry track, but the rain soon came, effectively terminating the battle for the final Moto2 pole of the year. Pirro and team-mate Yuki Takahashi (Gresini Racing Moto2-Moriwaki) put on a remarkable performance in tricky conditions to secure a one-two for their grieving squad.

Their strategy was simple ‰ÛÒ with the threat of more rain on the horizon they bolted out of the pits and went as quickly as possible as soon as possible. Pirro's pole lap was only his fourth lap and he pulled in after another lap as the rain hit home. Takahashi also set his fastest lap on his fourth time around, ending up just nine thousandths of a second behind his team-mate. This is his sixth front-row start of the year.

"I'm very happy to get my first pole position in Moto2. The conditions were not easy, it was very tricky out there with rain here and there. I think maybe Marco [Simoncelli] was pushing me and the bike," Pirro said. "I'd like to dedicate this pole position to Marco and his family. Thanks very much to my team because I know this is a very hard weekend for everyone in the team. Tomorrow I will push very hard to do my best for the team ‰ÛÒ a good result here would be so important."

Yuki Takahashi ,added, "The conditions were very difficult in qualifying. We went out and tried to go as fast as possible as soon as possible because we knew that rain could come, and we were right. I'm very surprised to see that me and Michele are first and second. I think maybe Marco [Simoncelli] gave us some power today. The team is working very well, so my thanks to them."

Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team-Suter) was delighted to be in the top three for the first time this year, in fact for the first time since his days in the 250 class. But no one was happier than Stefan Bradl (Viessmann Kiefer Racing-Kalex), who was proclaimed 2011 Moto2 World Champion after his only title rival Marc Marquez (Team Catalunya Caixa Repsol-Suter) announced his withdrawal from the event before this morning's final free practice session.

"It's been a long time since I have been up here on the front row, so it's great to be back, a good feeling," Kallio said. "The bike was more or less okay in the dry and the wet sessions, so I think we should be okay in the race. We can be really happy with this front row. Tomorrow I will do the best I can ‰ÛÒ get a good start and then go from there."

Marquez, who had led the points chase at the Japanese GP, but lost it again in Australia, is unable to ride here due to injuries sustained during an FP1 crash in Malaysia, where marshals had failed to flag a wet section of track. Marquez has suffered double vision since the accident and is still having vision problems, so he could not attempt to ride here.

Bradl enjoyed a low-key celebration in his pit at the end of qualifying, which he completed in fourth position. No doubt the young German will be aiming to finish his season with a win tomorrow, to underline his strength in the Honda-powered series. Bradl will be joined on the front row by Phillip Island winner Alex De Angelis (JIR Moto2-Motobi) and Sepang Moto2 winner Thomas Luthi (Interwetten Paddock Moto2-Suter).

The Valencia Moto2 third row includes Dominique Aegerter (Technomag-CIP-Suter), Xavier Simeon (Tech 3 B-Tech 3) and Mike Di Meglio (Tech 3 Racing-Tech 3).
Yuki Takahashi runs the "Race your life" graphics in honor of Marco Simoncelli
Main Photo: Michele Pirro

Qualifying position
1 Michele Pirro 1m37.067s ITA MORIWAKI Gresini Racing Moto2
2 Yuki Takahashi +0.009s JAP MORIWAKI Gresini Racing Moto2
3 Mika Kallio +0.410s FIN SUTER Marc VDS Racing Team
4 Stefan Bradl +0.803s GER KALEX Viessman Kiefer Racing
5 Alex De Angelis +0.821s SMR MOTOBI JiR Moto2
6 Thomas Luthi +0.896s SWI SUTER Interwetten Paddock M2 Racing
7 Dominique Aegerter +1.028s SWI SUTER Technomag-CIP
8 Xavier Simeon +1.115s GER TECH 3 Tech 3 B
9 Mike De Meglio +1.429s FRA TECH 3 Tech 3 Racing
10 Simone Corsi +1.498s ITA FTR Ioda Racing Project
11 Aleix Espargaro +1.566s ESP KALEX Pons HP 40
12 Bradley Smith +1.585s GBR TECH 3 Tech 3 Racing
13 Pol Espargaro +1.588s ESP FTR HP Tuenti Speed Up
14 Scott Redding +1.636s GBR SUTER Marc VDS Racing Team
15 Jordi Torres +1.857s SPA SUTER Mapfre Aspar Team
16 Esteve Rabat +1.869s ESP FTR Blusens-STX
17 Mattia Pasini +2.029s ITA FTR Ioda Racing Project
18 Alex Baldolini +2.226s ITA KALEX Pons HP 40
19 Jules Cluzel +2.242s FRA SUTER NGM Forward Racing
20 Yonny Hernandez +2.249s COL FTR Blusens-STX
21 Julian Simon +2.336s SPA SUTER Mapfre Aspar Team
22 Anthony West +2.375s AUS MZ-RE HONDA MZ Racing
23 Kenny Noyes +2.482s USA FTR Avintia-STX
24 Max Neukirchner +2.604s GER MZ-RE HONDA MZ Racing
25 Andrea Iannone +2.649s ITA SUTER Speed Master
26 Claudio Corti +2.676s ITA SUTER Italtrans Racing Team
27 Randy Krummenacher +2.751s SWI KALEX GP Team Switzerland Kiefer Racing
28 Raffaele De Rosa +2.782s ITA SUTER Mapfre Aspar Team
29 Kenan Sofuoglu +3.210s TUR SUTER Technomag-CIP
30 Valentin Debise +3.301s FRA FTR Speed Up
31 Santiago Hernandez +3.374s COL FTR Thai Honda PTT Singha-SAG
32 Joan Olive +3.445s ESP FTR Blusens-STX
33 Robertino Pietri +3.623s VEN SUTER Italtrans Racing Team
35 Elena Rosell +4.939s SPA SUTER Mapfre Aspar Team
36 Ratthapark Wilairot +5.250s THA FTR Thai Honda PTT Singha-SAG
37 Mashel Al Naimi +5.560s QAT MORIWAKI QMMF Racing Team
38 Nasser Hasan Al Malki +6.642s QAT MORIWAKI QMMF Racing Team
39 Axel Pons SPA KALEX Pons HP 40
40 Marc Marquez ESP SUTER Catalunya Caixa Repsol

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