Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) has taken pole position at Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit, as the new World Champion chose the perfect moment to head out in the changeable conditions on full slick tyres. Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) starts from P2 after graduating from Q1, with Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) completing the front row.
With Q1 seeing some incredibly high profile casualties, it was Cal Crutchlow and Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) who moved through to fight for the front, leaving Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) behind – with Rossi in P15 on the grid in his worst qualifying since 2011.
The track was drying in Q1, and drier by the start of Q2. With rain forecast to hit halfway through the second qualifying session however, the pressure was on to do a good lap – and choose the right tyre. With some heading out on intermediates, Marquez then came back in quickly to switch to slicks – untouchable from that point on, and 1.5 seconds clear a few minutes later until the grid began to reel him closer. Pol Espargaro was late to switch, attempting a fast lap on the intermediates, before coming back in for slicks and then taking the front row – as Crutchlow didn’t quite take the full gamble, and set his front row qualifier on an intermediate front and slick rear.
Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) shone in the session to challenge for the front – just beaten over the line by his brother – and will start fourth, ahead of Aussie Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) at his home race, who completed the top five in his best ever qualifying result. Locking out Row 2 is Octo Pramac Yakhnich rider Danilo Petrucci.
Nicky Hayden, riding in place of injured Dani Pedrosa at Repsol Honda, took an impressive P7 on his return to MotoGP™, ahead of Aprilia Racing Team Gresini rider Stefan Bradl – who is also set to become Hayden’s teammate in 2017 at Honda World Superbike Team. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) is ninth to complete the third row, finding going a little tougher as the track dried. His teammate, Hector Barbera – standing in for injured Andrea Iannone – completed the top ten.
Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) will start from eleventh, ahead of 5-time World Champion Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), who struggled in Q2 after having graduated from Q1.
MotoGP™ hope for better weather for Sunday as race day looms and lights out later in the day at 16:00 local time (GMT+11). With the big hitters spread throughout the field, the 2016 Australian GP is sure to be another classic.
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