Alex Rins won an early battle for pole, edging ahead of his biggest challengers Axel Pons and Sam Lowes to sit in first on the grid for the third time this season as he edges closer to the runner-up spot in the championship.

The Paginas Amarillas HP 40 rider may be a Phillip Island rookie in the Moto2 class, but looked comfortable as a previous podium finisher and race winner in Moto3 in Australia.

The Pons rider's time of 1m 32.523 set on just his ninth lap, was quick enough to hold off Axel Pons, who excelled at the track for the AGR Team with a career best qualifying performance in second.

Related Articles

The Spaniard posted his best lap while battling with his fellow countryman for the top spot, a late opportunity to tow behind Rins was not enough to push him to pole as improvements became hard to come by as the session unfolded.

Lowes returned to Australia with high hopes at the track where he posted his best result in his rookie season (a fifth) and had been on the pace all through practice. A late fall from his Speed Up at Siberia left him unable to defend his time as he limped back to the pits but the Briton also benefited from getting a good lap in at the optimum time to hold third.

Tom Luthi chipped away at Lowes' time but couldn't quite find that little bit extra for a front row start, leaving the Swiss rider fourth for Derendinger Racing Interwetten.

Joining him on row two are Mika Kallio, another Speed Up rider for QMMF proving the machine runs well around the Island, who starts fifth after shadowing Luthi on track, and Taka Nakagami, qualifying well again for Idemitsu Honda Team Asia in sixth, the pair among only a handful of riders to improve in the closing minutes.

Newly crowned Moto2 champion Johann Zarco struggled for speed in the final sector of the track leaving him seventh for Ajo Motorsport.

Also securing row three starts are Sandro Cortese, who was also lapping with Kallio and Luthi but didn't fully reap the rewards , the German starts eighth for Dynavolt Intact GP, while Lorenzo Baldassarri did enough for a ninth place grid slot for Forward Racing.

Tenth went to yet another good Speed Up performance from Julian Simon on the second QMMF Racing entry, his time pushed out Ricky Cardus (JPMoto Malaysia) performing strongly on the Suter again after posting the chassis manufacturer's best race result of the year when he was sixth in the Motegi race.

Alex Marquez was late out of the pits as the EG 0,0 Marc VDS team rushed to fix a clutch issue, posting a time worthy of 18th, but long after all the top times had been set.

Qualifying in general was a tight affair with the top seventeen riders all split by less than a second.

Josh Hook continues to replace Dominique Aegerter for Interwetten and starts 24th.

Tito Rabat began the weekend on track before pulling out following a crash in practice which saw the medical staff declare him unfit to race.