Moto3: The most intriguing qualifying ever!
Moto3’s qualifying session began under bright skies but as soon as the lights went green for the 45 minute session, rain began belting down on the coastal circuit of Phillip Island, prompting riders to pit and change to wet tires. The Mahindra’s were up to speed quickly as Aspar Mahindra’s Pecco Bagnaia and Jorge Martin were up in contention for provisional pole, closely followed by riders like Nicolo Bulega (Sky racing VR46), John McPhee (Saxoprint Peugeot) and Fabio Quartararo among many others. At the halfway stage, the track was dry enough for the Dunlop Slick tires to be bolted onto the 250cc lightweight machines and the times began to tumble. Nicolo Bulega was the first rider to dip below the 1’40 minute marker on dry tires, closely followed by Leopard’s Andrea Locatelli and Fabio Quartararo.
The times kept falling down and the timing sheets chopped and changed until Juanfran Guevara’s RBA racing KTM crashed in the final sector, bringing out the red flag with 5 minutes to go. The final 5 minutes saw 34 riders on the track, much like the opening laps of a Moto3 race. The ability of the riders to craftily use the slipstream of multiple bikes proved to be handy as the timing sheets changed 7 times after the chequered flag is brought down. World champion Binder takes pole, with Fabio Quartararo closely behind in second. Nicolo Bulega on the Sky racing VR46 bike completes an all- KTM front row for tomorrow’s 23 lap showdown.
Moto2: Luthi impresses, Zarco Crashes (twice)!
Garage Plus Interwetten’s Tom Luthi takes pole position at the Australian Grand Prix after a tricky qualifying session which saw the circuit having only a single dry line to safely negotiate on Dunlop slicks. Cold track temperatures (14 degrees celsius) saw many riders get caught out on cold tires. Riders like Sam Lowes (Federal oil Gresini), Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport), Tom Luthi and both the Estrella Galicia 0,0 MarcVDS riders crash out and walk away safely from the scene. Taka’aki Nakagami’s crash made him visit the medical center for precautionary checks. Lowes and Zarco tasted the gravel yet again, but remounted to finish P3 and P10 respectively. Meanwhile the top ten saw some surprises, as ItalTrans’ veteran Italian Mattia Pasini finished P2 ahead of Sam Lowes,SAG team’s Jesko Raffin (Teammate of Luis Salom RIP) in P5 and Tech3’s Xavi Vierge in P7 battling the usual shenanigans. Paginas Amarillas HP40’s Alex Rins didn’t risk it out in qualifying as he sat out for most of the session after setting a time, unable to improve it after a mechanical failure caught him out in the dying moments. He’ll start from P16 in tomorrow’s race.