Pol Espargaro on European MotoGP pole

Valencia (Spain) (AFP) –

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KTM rider Pol Espargaro will start from pole for Sunday's European MotoGP after setting the fastest time in Saturday qualifying at Valencia.

His fellow Spaniard Alex Rins (Suzuki) and Japan's Takaaki Nakagami (Honda-LCR) join him on the front row.

Championship leader Joan Mir, who like Espargaro has never won in the premier division, will start from the second row.

Mir leads Fabio Quartararo by 14 points but only 32 points separate the top six after a roller-coaster season truncated by the coronavirus and thrown wide open by the absence of six-time world champion Marc Marquez.

Placed third in the championship is Maverick Vinales who starts Sunday's race from the pits as punishment over the number of engine changes on his Yamaha.