By Lisa Lewis
Red Bull KTM Ajo rider Sandro Cortese has taken his seventh pole position of the season in Moto3 qualifying at Phillip Island, Australia.
Cortese, who was crowned the inaugural Moto3 champion last weekend at Sepang, will be aiming for his fourteenth podium of the season after setting the fastest time of the weekend with a 1m 38.334 lap midway through the session.
Cortese can finish the season with the most race wins if he is fvictorious at the final two races, currently having four wins this season and Maverick Vinales has five.
Just +0.393 adrift was fellow countryman Jonas Folger, who continues to warrant his mid-season signing for Mapfre Aspar with second on the grid, while Efren Vazquez took the final spot on the front row for the JHK T-shirt Laglisse team on his FTR Honda.
Winner of the Japanese Grand Prix, Danny Kent, looked back on form in the damp conditions for Red Bull KTM Ajo and starts from fourth.
A last lap effort saw Ajo team mate Zulfahmi Khairuddin storm to fifth after being down in sixteenth on the Air Asia sponsored KTM after he missed the early part of the session with bike issues.
Completing the second row is Miguel Oliveira who was top of the timesheets early on and qualifies in sixth place for the Estrella Galicia team.
Arthur Sissis was the highest qualifying home racer, the Red Bull KTM rider takes seventh spot on the grid.
Maverick Vinales returned to action for the Blusens Avintia team, after his public apology for his walk out in Malaysia.
Vinales, aiming to regain the runner-up position in the championship, will start from eighth as he tries to close the eight point gap between to Luis Salom of RW Racing, who will start ninth on the grid.
The fight for Rookie of the Year in Moto3 remains wide open with just two points separating Team Italia FMI's Romano Fenati and Estrella Galicia rider Alex Rins, who has been in the points for the last seven races. They start from 14th and 16th respectively.
John McPhee qualified 22nd on the KRP Honda Caretta Technology bike. Fellow Brit Sam Clarke, a wild-card for the race for Fastline GP Racing, did not get within the 107% qualifying time.
Australian Lincoln Gilding, also a guest rider this weekend, will line-up 29th for K1 racing.
Mahindra rider Danny Webb has pulled out this weekend due to a lack of spare parts needed to fix the engine problems the bike has suffered from over the past three weeks.
Ioda's Luigi Morciano is not taking part this weekend due to injury and has not been replaced.