Jorge Lorenzo has clinched pole position for the Tissot Australian Grand Prix, beating Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi to the top spot in a highly dramatic shootout at Phillip Island.
With only three rounds remaining in the 2013 MotoGP™ season and Marquez able to clinch an historic premier class title win this weekend, the qualifying session at Phillip Island would prove to be one of the most incident-packed of the year. Ultimately, Lorenzo clinched his third pole of the campaign – his first since Jerez in May – courtesy of a best lap of 1’27.899, but this was only after the reigning World Champion’s Yamaha Factory Racing bike clipped a seagull. The margin at the front would be two tenths of a second, with Marquez able to secure the world crown on Sunday if he ends the race with a points-advantage of 51 or more.
In third place, Rossi – who on only three occasions in his career has failed to finish on the podium at Phillip Island – will start on the front row for the second consecutive race, ahead of GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista who qualified fourth but went off-track at the end of qualifying. Fifth will be Sepang winner Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) – who is the only rider other than Marquez and Lorenzo who retains a mathematical possibility of winning the championship – from Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Cal Crutchlow, who will start sixth. Row 3 will be occupied by Tech3’s Bradley Smith plus Ducati Team pairing Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso.
Tenth on the grid will be Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone, who entered the Q2 shootout from Q1, as was also the case with Dovizioso. It was towards the end of Q1 when Iannone was involved in an on-track disagreement with Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro, who failed to feature in Q2 for only the fourth time this in 2013. In the meantime, Colin Edwards set the CRT pace as he qualified 11th for NGM Mobile Forward Racing, one position in front of Randy de Puniet while the Frenchman’s teammate Espargaro will be 13th on the grid; both de Puniet and Edwards suffered incidents in the Q2 shootout.
LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl has taken no further part in the weekend since attempting to ride in opening practice, having fractured his right ankle at Sepang one week ago; the German hopes to return at Motegi next weekend. Australian Bryan Staring will start his home race 21st on the Gresini CRT bike, with fellow countryman Damian Cudlin having qualified 23rd for PBM on his 31st birthday.
In a separate twist, Bridgestone have announced that they are unable to guarantee safety of their rear slick tyres beyond 14 laps, and it has therefore been decided that every rider will be required to enter the pits and change to his second machine with fresh tyres at least once during the race. No rider is permitted to make more than 14 laps on any one slick rear tyre. This means that a bike/tyre change before lap 12 will require a second bike/tyre change to finish the race. Prototypes will have to use the hard-, and CRTs the medium spec tyre.
And to mark the occasion of the Australian race, it was a fitting that Casey Stoner was inducted as a MotoGP™ Legend at Phillip Island on Saturday. The World Champion of 2007 and 2011 becomes the 20th MotoGP™ Legend, joining riders such as compatriots Wayne Gardner and Mick Doohan.
Pol Espargaro will start from his fifth pole position of the Moto2™ season at the Tissot Australian Grand Prix, whilst championship leader Scott Redding has been ruled out of the race after fracturing his left wrist in a crash. The race will take place over the shortened distance of 13 laps.
A dramatic day of qualifying at Phillip Island drew to a close with the intermediate category, with the session being interrupted with red flags following a crash for Thai Honda PTT Gresini Moto2’s Thitipong Warokorn. As the Thai rider was transported away for medical check-ups and soon diagnosed with a fracture to his right scapula, ruling him out of action for the rest of the race event, whilst Esteve Rabat, who also crashed, was effectively given extra time for bike repairs as he made his way back to the Tuenti HP 40 garage.
No sooner had Rabat re-joined the session than the Spaniard crashed once again, having by this point lost provisional pole to teammate Espargaro who will start in front thanks to his leading lap time of 1’32.530. Rabat missed out by just one hundredth of a second, while there were identical times for Jordi Torres and Alex de Angelis; the former (Aspar Team Moto2) will start third by virtue of his quicker second best lap time, leaving the NGM Mobile Forward Racing rider fourth.
Tom Luthi rounds out the top five for Interwetten Paddock Moto2 Racing, while Mika Kallio will be the leading Marc VDS Racing Team rider in sixth; however, the Finn suffered a sizeable accident in the Hay Shed section. Just moments later, teammate Redding crashed at the end of the lap and was duly taken to the Medical Centre where the Englishman complained of pain with his left wrist. Having already posted his 1’32.962 lap time, Redding sank to tenth position in the results and soon headed towards Melbourne to operate on the left wrist fracture.
More drama came at the end of the session, with reigning Moto3™ World Champion Sandro Cortese being the last to suffer an incident. The Dynavolt Intact GP rider will start seventh on the grid behind Kallio, while Aspar’s Nico Terol and NGM Mobile Racing’s Mattia Pasini fill positions eight and nine ahead of the unfortunate Redding.
Moto3™ championship leader Luis Salom will start from pole position for the Tissot Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island. Joining the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider on the front row will be Jonas Folger and Efren Vazquez, with Salom’s championship rivals Maverick Viñales and Alex Rins fourth and fifth.
Pole for Salom is his fourth of the season and second in succession, ending of run of four different pole-sitters from the previous four events. It came in the form of 1’36.890, serving as a huge confidence boost as the Mallorcan already carries a 14-point lead over Rins and a 26-point margin over Viñales.
Despite being injured in a highside crash in the San Marino Grand Prix in mid-September, Folger continues to deliver solid performances and the Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3 rider will be lining up on the front row for the fourth time in 2013, whereas Mahindra Racing’s Vazquez went third on his final lap, just as teammate Miguel Oliveira crashed out of the session. On Row 2, Viñales (Team Calvo) and Rins (Estrella Galicia 0,0) may be required to work together should they hope to overhaul Salom at the forefront of the race.
In fact, Rins is sandwiched by the Viñales name on the second row, as Maverick’s elder cousin Isaac (Ongetta-Centro Seta) will line up sixth. Celebrating a career-best qualifying result, Team Calvo’s Ana Carrasco achieved seventh position to make it six Spaniards in the top seven places, joined on Row 3 by the crashed Oliveira and Ajo’s Zulfahmi Khairuddin, who escaped both a fall and a lurid off-track moment on the exit of the final corner. Leading Australian representative Jack Miller will start tenth for Caretta Technology – RTG, with compatriot Arthur Sissis 16th for Ajo.
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