GRID PENALTY UPDATE:
***In addition to the already confirmed grid penalty sanctions for Danny Kent (from FP3 – six places) and Fabio Quartararo (FP1 – 3 places) the following riders have also picked up a three place penalty for their qualifying actions, not reflected in the original report – Maria Herrera, Joan Mir, Andrea Locatelli & Remy Gardner. New grid at bottom of report.***
Before Moto3 had turned a wheel at Phillip Island ahead of the Australian Grand Prix there was already penalty talk, with Danny Kent on the back foot after the Leopard team argued his sanction down from nine to six places. On the eve of his second and more concrete title chance, he needed a poor performance from his main rival Enea Bastianini, and having struggled in practice it was on the cards.
There was also another Brit free of problems and ready to step into Kent’s pole position shoes.
| Powering to pole – Alex Rins Photo:Pons Racing
In Moto2 the session started as a three-way battle between Alex Rins, Axel Pons and Sam Lowes, their lapping was chiselling away at the clock as they attempted to outdo each other until, with half an hour left to run the gains dried up, leaving Rins on pole after setting his lap at the optimum moment.
Danny Kent pulled out all the stops to pull out the red sectors as he cut through the traffic as he powered to pole, but all his performance for the Leopard team could do was minimise the damage to his six-place penalty (When all taken into consideration he will line up seventh).
Second after a powerful performance after being free of needing hours of set-up was fellow Brit John McPhee, who will officially inherit pole after Kent’s penalty is put into practice on the grid.
The SaxoPrint-RTG man pulled out all the stops for a fiery fast lap. Third went to Miguel Oliveira , helped by his team mates and equally fast solo when possible, preventing an all Honda front row with the Red Bull KTM Ajo team.
Efren Vazquez set the fourth fastest time on the second Leopard , just ahead of rookie Jorge Navarro for Estrella Galicia 0,0. Romano Fenati was sixth as he continues an improved qualifying run for the Sky Racing VR46 outfit.
Livio Loi finished seventh on the timesheets for (RW Racing) with Maria Herrera putting in one of her best ever qualifying performances for eighth after a late burst on the Husqvarna. Jakub Kornfeil had the ninth best time for Drive M7 SIC.
Brad Binder completes the top ten after his KTM breakdown saw him miss much of the session after being fastest in FP3.
Ono’s replacement Joan Mir had an excellent debut in 15th, Motegi winner Nico Antonelli was 17th after a mechanical failure saw him sit out the first half of the session, The delicate Fabio Quartararo was 19thpre-penalty and Kent’s amin title rival Enea Bastianini had a disaster and starts 29th.
Moto2 started all action with Alex Rins, Axel Pons and Sam Lowes battling it out for pole but the action dried up as the temperatures rose and the grip altered, with over half an hour left to count down.
It was Alex Rins who had put in his top lap as the conditions peaked, handing the Paginas Amarillas HP 40 sponsored Pons rider pole.
It was a good day to be a Pons as behind Sito Pons’ talented rookie was his son, Axel Pons seemingly finding his style and bike a perfect match at the Island.
Speed Up’s Sam Lowes was still searching for more when he crashed with twelve minutes of the session remaining, but his time held firm.
The travelling pack of Tom Luthi, Mika Kallio and Sandro Cortese made the most movement as qualifying drew to a close, the Interwetten man the best of the pack in fourth, ahead of QMMF’s Kallio in sixth.
Taka Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) split the trio up by claiming sixth, as did a late run from the new Moto2 champion Johann Zarco in seventh for Ajo Motorsport, with Sandro Cortese not able to fully capitalise on his tow in eighth.
Lorenzo Baldassarri took ninth for Forward Racing and tenth went to QMMF’s Julian Simon, with Rickuy Cardus again performing well on the Suter for eleventh.
Alex Marquez bike needed a lot of work in the garage before he could make an appearance for the EG 0,0 Marc VDS team for 18th, Josh Hook again sits in for Dominique Aegerter and is 24th .
For the full Moto3 Qualifying result, click here
For the full Moto2 Qualifying result, click here
Post Penalty Moto3 grid:
21. Dalla Porta