Mattia Pasini has topped a chaotic qualifying session at Phillip Island to start tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix from pole position. Battling high winds and a cooling track, Pasini was one of a series of fallers in the session but was able to do enough before his tumble to hold onto the top spot, starting alongside Marcel Schrotter and Xavi Vierge. Title contenders Pecco Bagnaia and Miguel Oliveira had a disaster though, qualifying outside the top fifteen, as did Brit Sam Lowes in 19th.
Championship leader Bagnaia has claimed three poles in the last five races and faces his first match point in the title fight at Phillip Island, but he could only manage 16th and endured his worst qualifying of the season. Title rival Miguel Oliveira, however, also had one of his worst of the year and had to settle for 20th - setting up an intriguing Sunday Down Under.
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Beyond the front row they'll have to catch there are more than a few further complications, too. Dominique Aegerter had his best qualifying of the season to sit on provisional pole for some time before getting pushed down to the head of the second row, and he's joined by podium finisher at the venue last season Brad Binder. Fabio Quartararo completes row two to add another seriously fast rival to the mix.
If Binder could be a factor in the tactics of the race though, so too could Luca Marini. Bagnaia's teammate qualified seventh. He's joined on that third row by Iker Lecuona despite a crash for the Spaniard at turn two, with ninth fastest Alex Marquez also crashing during the session and potentially not fit to race after suffering a suspected concussion. He hit the back of Steven Odendaal at the top of Lukey Heights and sat out the rest of the session.
2018 European Moto2 Champion Jesko Raffin had a great session to get himself up into tenth in the latter stages of qualifying, showing great pace at Phillip Island once again. The Swiss rider sits ahead of Lorenzo Baldassarri in 11th, Jorge Navarro in 12th and Augusto Fernandez in P13. Then, just ahead of Bagnaia, it's Joan Mir and home hero Remy Gardner.