Mr Pole Position Jorge Martin has timed it right to take yet another pole position for tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix, making the most of other riders while battling high winds at Phillip Island. Finishing the session a quarter of a second clear, he’ll start tomorrow’s race alongside Darryn Binder and Ayumu Sasaki. Brit John McPhee had a less successful day, timing his qualifying run wrong and ending up back in 18th despite showing strong pace all weekend, just ahead of key title contender Marco Bezzecchi who could only manage to qualify in 15th and has a fightback on his hands for Sunday.
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A light shower of rain hit the Island just before the first qualifying session of the weekend got underway, but it remained light and then stopped, allowing conditions to steadily improve. That made for a classic finale and in the end, no one could match qualifying master Martin, with Binder picking up where he left off in Japan to launch from second and Sasaki bouncing back after a more bruising session in his home race.
Redox PruestelGP’s Jakub Kornfeil sat on provisional pole at the mid-stage of the session but the Czech rider eventually finished fourth fastest, with Motegi polesitter Gabriel Rodrigo another strong Saturday afternoon in P5. Philipp Oettl completes that second row in sixth after his best QP performance since Brno.
Tony Arbolino threatened the front row on numerous occasions but was left on the third row by the flag, with Marcos Ramirez another rider who had been on the provisional front row before getting shuffled down to eighth. Rounding out the top ten were Dennis Foggia and practice pacesetter Aron Canet.
A big talking point was Bezzecchi only managing 15th, with the Italian left with some work to do on Sunday. Currently only a point off the Championship lead held by Martin, he needs a lightning start - but has pulled it off before. Third in the championship Fabio Di Giannantonio also needs a comeback, having gone 17th fastest in qualifying despite leading the way in worse conditions in FP3.