Australian GP, Phillip Island – Qualifying roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) will be starting from pole at Phillip Island, as the reigning Champion took back the honour on his final lap after being threatened at the top by Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) and Motegi polesitter Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), who now join the reigning Champion on the front row. Marquez’ key title rival Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) had a tough session, taking P11. Skies were dry, but it remained far from tropical on the Island.
Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) heads up the second row as one of the key protagonists of the 2015 Island Battle was unleashed in Q2, with Jack Miller (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) another notable performance in P5 – equaling his best ever qualifying result, also gained at Phillip Island last season. Miller is also back on the grid for the first time since breaking his leg in training three weeks ago, making the second row start even more impressive.
Sixth on the grid is yet another stunning display of progress for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing as Pol Espargaro took the marque onto the second row – and in fully dry conditions. Espargaro has a good record at the Island, including the biggest winning margin in Moto2™ history in 2012.
Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) – the man who led the charge from Q1 – took P7, with Friday’s fastest Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) just behind in eighth. Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), who followed Rossi through from Q1, will line up ninth – making it all KTM riders in Q2 in the dry for the first time. In 2014, Smith took his first premier class podium at the venue.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) crashed out on a hot lap and was left to complete the top ten, with Andrea Dovizioso just 0.067 seconds behind the Brit. A tough day at the office, ‘DesmoDovi’ will want to replicate his form from the early stages of the Japanese GP, when he moved through from P9 to get in the fight at the front and then take that stunning win. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) was P12.
Just left behind in Q1, Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) will start thirteenth, ahead of Tito Rabat (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and Karel Abraham (Pull&Bear Aspar Team). Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) qualified in P16 after a big crash in FP3 – rider ok, but with a sprained left ankle. The Majorcan will be looking to his stunning record at smashing the pain barrier to move forward on Sunday.
It’s Phillip Island, it’s uncertain weather, and it’s 11 points in it. Make sure to watch the rumble Down Under on Sunday, with lights out at the slightly later hour of 16:00 local time (GMT +11).
Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) has taken pole position for the Australian GP, taking P1 by only 0.008 seconds from Dynavolt Intact GP’s Marcel Schrötter at the front of the field. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) took third to make it three chassis on the front row, with teammate Brad Binder lining up in fourth for a best qualifying result so far in Moto2™.
The two title contenders were off the front row, with Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) the first and taking fifth as he lines up to try and push for glory – just ahead of teammate Alex Marquez. Tom Lüthi (CarXpert Interwetten), meanwhile, took P10.
Motegi poleman Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) was seventh after a moment on his hot lap, ahead of Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer Racing) and Jesko Raffin (Garage Plus Interwetten).
Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) took eleventh, ahead of Japanese GP podium finisher Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing), Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP), Axel Pons (RW Racing GP) and Simone Corsi (Speed Up), who completed the top fifteen.
19 points down on Morbidelli, Lüthi will be fighting for a lightning start as the Moto2™ race gets underway at 14:20 (GMT +11).
Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) took pole position in the Australian GP, on top by two tenths as the field returned to the pits to wait for a final shootout and then found conditions deteriorate with some light rain. It is the Spaniard’s eighth pole of the year, with Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Racing) and Championship leader Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) joining him on the front row.
The weather began dry at Phillip Island before the rain on some parts of the track made it impossible to improve times, and that left some high and dry as the final push for grid positions was abandoned. Mir and Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers) protagonised the mid part of the session as the two went wheel to wheel on track in a teaser for what could await the crowds tomorrow, with the Italian lining up only two places behind Mir, taking fifth. The man separating the two to head up the second row is Juanfran Guevara (RBA BOE Racing Team), with Jules Danilo (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers) completing Row 2.
Manuel Pagliani (CIP) took seventh to head up the third row ahead of Estrella Galicia 0,0 riders Aron Canet and Enea Bastianini, with Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) showing more good pace on Saturday to complete the top ten.
Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3), Marco Bezzecchi (CIP), Philipp Oettl (Südmetall Schedl GP Racing), Lorenzo dalla Porta (Aspar Mahindra Moto3) and Motegi podium finisher Niccolo Antonelli round out the fastest fifteen – with Antonelli’s teammate Bo Bendsneyder another big name to miss out after some great pace all weekend; the Dutchman in 19th.
Now it’s time to race, and with a lot on the line: the 2017 crown. With 55 points over Fenati it’s advantage Mir, but who knows what can happen? The lights go out at 13:00 (GMT +11).