Pol Espargaro recovered from a dramatic practice incident to snatch Mugello Moto2 pole position ahead of title rival Marc Marquez.
Pons rider Espargaro required medical clearance to participate in qualifying after being collected by Johann Zarco in a collision at the first corner in final practice.
Although Espargaro showed no ill effects in qualifying, setting a rapid pace throughout, Marquez looked certain to start on pole for the seventh time in nine rounds. The Monlau rider, now confirmed as a member of Honda's works MotoGP lineup for 2013, was barely headed until the closing moments, when Espargaro burst through the traffic to register a 1m52.369s and grab the top spot away.
Zarco was given a 15-place grid penalty for his incident with Espargaro – and ironically then went on to set the third-fastest time in qualifying, which would have been a career-best for the Frenchman had it stood. The JIR rider's demotion moves top local rider Andrea Iannone up to third for Speed Master.
Forward's Alex de Angelis and Paddock GP's Thomas Luthi were next up, with Bradley Smith going sixth quickest for Tech 3 before crashing at the end.
Smith was one of several riders to have incidents, along with his teammate Xavier Simeon, Ioda rider Simone Corsi, Marc VDS Racing's Mika Kallio, MZ convert Mike di Meglio and Gresini's Ratthapark Wilairot. All escaped unhurt, although Simeon was in clear discomfort after landing heavily on his back.
Pos Rider Team/Bike Time Gap
1. Pol Espargaro Pons Kalex 1m52.369s
2. Marc Marquez Monlau Suter 1m52.438s + 0.069s
3. Johann Zarco JIR Motobi 1m52.781s + 0.412s
4. Andrea Iannone Speed Master Speed Up 1m52.835s + 0.466s
5. Alex de Angelis Forward FTR 1m52.883s + 0.514s
6. Thomas Luthi Paddock Suter 1m52.946s + 0.577s
7. Bradley Smith Tech 3 1m53.029s + 0.660s
8. Scott Redding Marc VDS Kalex 1m53.059s + 0.690s
9. Esteve Rabat Pons Kalex 1m53.090s + 0.721s
10. Takaaki Nakagami Italtrans Kalex 1m53.152s + 0.783s
11. Nicolas Terol Aspar Suter 1m53.258s + 0.889s
12. Simone Corsi Ioda FTR 1m53.266s + 0.897s
13. Dominique Aegerter Technomag-CIP Suter 1m53.319s + 0.950s
14. Yuki Takahashi Forward FTR 1m53.409s + 1.040s
15. Claudio Corti Italtrans Kalex 1m53.509s + 1.140s
16. Randy Krummenacher Switzerland Kalex 1m53.566s + 1.197s
17. Mike di Meglio MZ 1m53.672s + 1.303s
18. Max Neukirchner Kiefer Kalex 1m53.683s + 1.314s
19. Julian Simon Avintia Suter 1m53.715s + 1.346s
20. Ricard Cardus Arguinano AJR 1m53.722s + 1.353s
21. Axel Pons Pons Kalex 1m53.787s + 1.418s
22. Mika Kallio Marc VDS Kalex 1m53.984s + 1.615s
23. Toni Elias Aspar Suter 1m54.038s + 1.669s
24. Roberto Rolfo Technomag-CIP Suter 1m54.164s + 1.795s
25. Gino Rea Gresini Suter 1m54.513s + 2.144s
26. Xavier Simeon Tech 3 1m54.726s + 2.357s
27. Anthony West QMMF Speed Up 1m54.802s + 2.433s
28. Ratthapark Wilairot Gresini Suter 1m54.890s + 2.521s
29. Alessandro Andreozzi Speed Master Speed Up 1m55.267s + 2.898s
30. Marco Colandrea SAG FTR 1m55.374s + 3.005s
31. Massimo Roccoli SAG Bimota 1m55.518s + 3.149s
32. Eric Granado JIR Motobi 1m56.337s + 3.968s
33. Elena Rosell QMMF Moriwaki 1m57.081s + 4.712s