More than the washout the various weather forecasts predicted for Saturday in Phillip Island, the intermediate class qualifying ended a run of significant airtime for slick tyre options punctuated with cold but light drizzles here and there.
Based on performance in practice, Mattia Pasini had nothing to do at the top of the timesheets but the Italian bounced back to lead the session with the first time into the 1:33s and marginally the fastest of the weekend. Marcel Schrotter showcased the benefits of the new Suter frame by getting within eight thousandths of a second of Pasini. The duo was followed by all the usual contenders and the order settled until the final five minutes.
The first big moves came from the Red Bull KTM duo running together like they got us used to and suddenly bringing Brad Binder into the mix, right ahead of the world championship leader. The usual contenders left it late to fight back for pole position after tripping each other up, no big changes taking place until the very last lap.
Pasini was the only rider still posting red sector times and, although not improving in the end, the Italian snatched yet another pole position on a track where he does not have the best record. Schrotter did not improve either but his initial time was sufficient for him to score a career best qualifying position. The front row was completed by Miguel Oliveira, the Portuguese rider recording his fourth front row start of the year.
Binder will start from the second row of the grid in his best qualifying result of the year and in very competitive company with the Marc VDS duo. Morbidelli encountered some late issues on his second run and could not improve on fifth, while Alex Marquez steadily improved to sixth spot, half a second down on Pasini.
Takaaki Nakagami went from “top of the timesheets” to “nowhere in sight” throughout the weekend but managed to reach a compromise for qualifying and finished seventh. The third row of the grid will also feature Dominique Aegerter and a surprising name in Jesko Raffin.
On the other hand, Tom Luthi did not put his best experience to good use and could only manage tenth place, five grid spots behind his title rival and surrounded by people eager for their time in the limelight.
|12||97||Xavi VIERGE||Tech 3||1'34.213||0.913||0.050|
|15||24||Simone CORSI||Speed Up||1'34.500||1.200||0.217|
|16||87||Remy GARDNER||Tech 3||1'34.500||1.200|
|24||37||Augusto FERNANDEZ||Speed Up||1'35.076||1.776||0.008|
|28||89||Khairul Idham PAWI||Kalex||1'35.918||2.618||0.339|