By Lisa Lewis

Pol Espargaro scored his fifth pole of the season after battling the blustery weather and tyre conditions to set the fastest time in qualifying for the Australian Moto2 Grand Prix.

The Pons man made the best of the tricky tyre conditions, which have lead to the race distance being reduced. The Tuenti HP 40 rider set a new lap record on his way to the top spot with his with his best effort well timed, being set just before the session was red-flagged.

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The Tuenti HP 40 rider has gone on to win from all his previous pole starts this season.

Tito Rabat had dominated the practice sessions but had to settle for second as team-mate Espargaro vaulted from tenth to first just before the flag with Rabat in the gravel moments before. Rabat then crashed again on the resumption of the session.

Jordi Torres battled with former Phillip Island race winner Alex De Angelis for the final front row spot, with the Aspar rider taking third, the highest placed Suter qualifier.

De Angelis kept fourth and was the fastest of the Speed Up riders, ahead of Interwetten Paddock's Tom Luthi in fifth on the grid.

Marc VDS circulated as a team, and got out early to bank some speedy laps after Scott Redding has found himself short of track space when it counted at qualifying over the last two rounds.

The moved paid initially paid off and they closed out the rest of the provisional front row with Mika Kallio just ahead on time from championship leader Redding.

They then both crashed dramatically in the final ten minutes. Kallio's bike was sent cartwheeling and the Finnish rider needed ice on his hand, but held on to sixth on the grid.

Redding required a stretcher after taking a pounding while trying to hold onto his bucking Kalex but dismounted to walk to the ambulance. He could play no further part as he awaited examination on a suspected left wrist fracture and was knocked down to tenth.

The result of his examination will be crucial to Redding's championship hopes as he holds just a slender nine point advantage over pole-sitter Espargaro.

Ahead of the Marc VDS man on the grid are fellow late crasher Sandro Cortese in seventh, Nico Terol who pushed aside his Friday tyre woes after several punctures to place eighth and Mattia Pasini who secured the final spot on the third row in ninth.

British riders Danny Kent and Gino Rea qualified in 22nd and 23rd respectively.

The session had to be red-flagged with sixteen minutes remaining after Thailand's Thitipong Warokorn smashed into the tyre barriers at turn twelve, the first of many big crashes.

He was shown moving after the crash but needed to be stretchered into the ambulance. Warokorn was later 'deemed ok', but still needed further checks on his left arm and shoulder.

The race around Phillip Island will be shortened to thirteen laps - half the normal race distance - following a request from Moto2 tyre supplier Dunlop. Full championship points will be awarded.

Resurfacing the track has lead to improved grip for the riders but tyre degradation in all the classes has become an issue over the weekend. Friday had seen punctures in both sessions whether using the special Dunlop for newly surfaced tracks or the replacement older option tyre.