Update: After the session Raul Fernandez had his cancelled lap reinstated, putting him back in second position on the grid.
John McPhee made the best of the difficult wet track conditions to take pole position for the European Moto3 Grand Prix as the title contenders clustered behind him.
The Petronas Sprinta Racing rider instantly looked comfortable on the increasingly wet track at the rain returned to Ricardo Tormo.
Lowering his top lap as most of the field struggled to stay upright, the confident performance from the Brit brought a best of 1m52.252s as he powered through the standing water and driving rain.
It is McPhee’s first pole of the season, his last coming at Austria in 2019.
Second had gone to Raul Fernandez, but his best lap was cancelled after the chequered flag, demoting the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider to eighth and ending his recent run of pole positions.
That moved title contender Celestino Vietti into second behind the Honda man, the Italian was 0.411s slower on his Sky Racing Team VR46 machine, his time unaffected by his late fall as the track lost adhesion.
Albert Arenas survived an early wobble in Q1 to move up to Q2, a quick final run in the wet to up his rain experience was wiped out as the rain poured much harder when he returned to track.
The championship leader gained the advantage of moving onto the front row in the reshuffle for Valresa Aspar.
The Spaniard’s closest rival Ai Ogura had finished the session fourth after topping Q1, but also lost his best lap and was pushed back to eleventh on the grid for Honda Team Asia.
Alonso Lopez (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) really pushed hard to find the limit of his Husqvarna in the wet, and found it twice – his two excursions into the gravel did not dent his qualifying as he managed the fourth best time while upright, the lap leading the timesheets at the time of his first off.
Riccardo Rossi secured his best qualifying result to date as he showed his wet weather prowess, taking fifth on the grid for BOE Skull Rider Facile Energy.
Last season’s Valencia winner Sergio Garcia fell right at the end of Q2 but had done enough to secure sixth for Estrella Galicia.
Darryn Binder (CIP Green Power) was close behind in seventh, with Kaito Toba (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46), who was last year’s pole man, finding enough pace to complete the top ten.
Gabriel Rodrigo crashed twice in the first half of qualifying, and although he did enough to advance, the Gresini rider took a while to get into his groove in Q2, leaving him twelfth after a late recovery effort.
Carlos Tatay was the best of the rookie entries, he did enough in the difficult conditions to claim 13th for Reale Avintia.
Jaume Masia had won both of the rounds held at Aragon to pull himself back into the title hunt. He has added the risk of having to rise through the pack after failing to progress from Q1, struggling in the damp after a lacklustre Friday sees the Leopard man in 28th on the grid.
Tatsuki Suzuki just missed out on making the step up to the second part of qualifying after finishing Q1 fifth. The SIC58 Squadra Corse rider will line up 15th, well ahead of his team-mate Niccolo Antonelli who finished the session last after changing his set up and leaving the pits late.
With the rain slowing proceedings, a flurry of late Q1crashes made fast laps impossible as the yellow flags waved, with falls for Barry Baltus, Jason Dupasquier and Jeremy Alcoba bookended by Rodrigo’s two crashes on the same lap.