Honda's Nakagami claims maiden pole at Teruel Grand Prix

MotoGP - French Grand Prix - Circuit Bugatti, Le Mans, France - October 10, 2020 LCR Honda's Takaaki Nakagami in action during practice REUTERS/Stephane Mahe

(Reuters) - Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami became the first Japanese rider in 16 years to clinch a premier class pole position when he sealed top spot in qualifying at the Teruel Grand Prix in Spain on Saturday.

Makoto Tamada was Japan’s last rider to start on pole in 2004.

Nakagami took pole just two days after signing a new multi-year deal with Honda, and he becomes the season’s sixth different pole-position rider.

“Just amazing, an amazing feeling... I’m really proud, but I need to concentrate and enjoy the race tomorrow,” Nakagami said, adding that he had no idea he was on pole until he reached the pits as there is no scoring tower at the track in Alcaniz.

Petronas Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli will start in second, while Suzuki’s Alex Rins joins them on the front row as he looks for successive wins on the track.

Rins’ team mate and championship leader Joan Mir starts well back in 12th position.

Championship contender Andrea Dovizioso of Ducati, who trails Mir by 15 points, had another qualifying session to forget after he failed to make it to Q2 for a second successive weekend. The Italian will start 17th on the grid.

Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales starts in the second row in fourth while Johann Zarco, who crashed at the final corner towards the end of the session, starts fifth.

Petronas Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo, second in the championship standings, starts sixth.

Reporting by Rohith Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Hugh Lawson