Moto3 World Champion Brad Binder will start the Australian Grand Prix on pole position after the Red Bull KTM Ajo rider navigated the tricky conditions as the weather briefly improved at Phillip Island. Fabio Quartararo was hot on his heels in second with Italian rookie Nicolo Bulega completing the front row in third.
Dreadful weather conditions had played havoc with the three practice sessions and right on cue, rain started to fall within seconds of the green flag signalling the start of qualifying. Consequently the opening laps were carried out on wet tyres but fierce winds dried out the track almost instantly, prompting many rider to enter the pits once again to change to slicks.
Given the changeable conditions, all the riders headed back out on track on slick tyres in hope of setting a fast lap before the dreaded the rain returned. Juanfran Guevara suffered a nasty highside exiting turn twelve and with the Spaniard requiring trackside assistance, race direction halted the session with four minutes to go.
Binder, who had been towards the top of the timesheets throughout the free practice sessions, navigated the cold and windy conditions best, finding enough track space to set a best of 1:37.696 to claim his fifth pole position of the season and prove why he is a worthy world champion.
Quartararo was on provisional pole until the South Africans final lap, but the Frenchman held on to qualify on the middle of the front row, only 0.094s of Binder’s best and proving he has the form to challenge for race victory on Sunday.
Bulega completed a dramatic session in third to complete the front row. The Italian rookie looked as if he was going to storm to the top of the timesheets but an incident before the red flag with a slowing Francesco Bagnaia on track, saw the VR46 rider running off track, using his quick reactions which saw him avoid a horror crash. Nevertheless the red flag gave him time to regroup and get his bike cleaned up, taking the opportunity to score another impressive front row start in his first appearance at Phillip Island.
Gabriel Rodrigo put in his best qualifying to date to take a fine fourth, with 2015 pole man John McPhee managing the tricky conditions well to clutch a magnificent top five. Livio Loi completed the second row in a fantastic sixth.
Motegi polesitter Andrea Migno put two Sky Racing VR46 bikes into the the top ten by obtaining a solid seventh. Darryn Binder surpassed his previous best grid position of 16th with a excellent eight place on the Platinum Bay Real Estate machine ahead of Aspar Mahindra duo Jorge Martin and Bagnaia who rounded out the top ten, although the latter may find himself in trouble for his part in Bulega’s spill.
The Moto3 race begins at 03:00 BST, with mixed conditions being forcasted we may be in for another classic.
Image Via: Motorsport.com