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Moto3 Australia: Kent claims a pole he can't keep

Title leader Danny Kent takes pole but will start from seventh in Australian Moto3 race
Danny Kent's final, masterful lap at a sunny Phillip Island cut rapidly through the traffic in classy fashion as the British rider gave everything to qualify as high as possible as the shadow of a six-place penalty loomed.

The Leopard rider set a speedy 1m 36.180 on a last lap as he threw his frustrations aside and rode around all-comers on a track filled with riders looking for a last-gasp improvement.

Kent came into qualifying demoralised declaring he was 'riding for nothing, really' after having to fight a nine place grid deduction for riding slowly on the racing line. The Leopard team got the penalty reduced to six places after successfully arguing one of the incidents had been just late braking at the Honda hairpin.

A fellow Brit, John McPhee, looks set to inherit the pole spot barring any further penalties handed out after qualifying, giving him a career first pole after finishing the session in an impressive second.

A confident McPhee had little to change on his bike in terms of settings so was able to focus on a charge up the timesheets, the SaxoPrint-RTG rider gaining his impressive placing after some successful solo laps and an ability to pick up speed, even when faced by traffic.

Handily for Kent, his main title rival Enea Bastianini has been off the pace all weekend and the Gresini man will need to pull out one of his infamous charges through the pack again to have an impact on the title race on Sunday after qualifying down in 29th.

The final spot on the front row after qualifying went to Miguel Oliveira, the 'other man' who can come into play when it comes down to deciding the Moto3 title.

The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider benefited from the trio of team-mates leaving the pits together to help the Portuguese rider gain a guaranteed slipstream.

Fourth went to the second Leopard bike of Efren Vazquez, with Jorge Navarro racing through the traffic for Estrella Galicia to claim fifth and Romano Fenati sixth after giving up on a tow and going it alone when he finally found some clear track for the Sky Racing VR46 team.

Livio Loi performed well for seventh for RW Racing, with Maria Herrera ,who declared the circuit a great fit for her riding style, in a best eighth on the Husqvarna Factory Laglisse.

Drive M7 SIC rider Jakub Kornfeil and Red Bull KTM Ajo rider Brad Binder complete the top ten, the South African's great form at the track being hampered by a late breakdown.

With Hiroki Ono out injured Leopard Racing have elected to replace him with their new 2016 signing Joan Mir, the double Spanish championship race winner and Red Bull Rookies runner-up qualified strongly in 15th for his first world championship appearance.

Motegi winner Niccolo Antonelli lost valuable track time after an early incident saw Francesco Bagnaia apologise to the Italian for their turn six fall which also saw Australian Remy Gardner in the gravel.

Frantic work by his Ongetta-Rivacold mechanics left him to plummet down the order, for a lowly 17th.

After a tentative start to test the strength of his ankle, Fabio Quartararo found himself another victim of the new rules on slow laps and the Estrella Galicia rider was too demoted on the grid, losing three places for riding slowly in three sectors in FP1. The Frenchman found himself off track during qualifying and down in 19th before the penalty is applied.

Australian riders Olly Simpson (Olly Simpson Racing) and Matt Barton (Suus Honda) earn home wild -card appearances and will start 35th and 36th Sunday's race . Barton crashed at the tricky turn one with seven minutes remaining.

by Lisa Lewis

Tagged as: Moto3 , Kent

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