Bradley Smith celebrated the salvation of his career by getting through from Q1 to Q2 for only the second time on the ever-improving KTM, joining his usually faster team-mate Pol Espargaro in the move, then outqualifying him in Q1.
In the week before the race, the Red Bull-backed team had finally put to bed speculation that the Briton was due for the chop, after an underperforming season; with a press release confirming that all contracts in place would be honoured, that the race team would continue with Smith and Espargaro, and that Mika Kallio would remain as test rider, with occasional wild card appearances.
Smith took a year’s-best seventh qualifying position, with Espargaro eighth.
Kallio had made no secret of his desire to return to full-time GP riding, and underlined his strength by claiming the Austrian marque’s first dry-weather top-ten finish at the Red Bull Ring in their home GP.
By Michael Scott