John McPhee believes his first official pole position in the Moto3 class is a sign of the progress he has made at the end of a trying season in the junior category.
Although the 21-year old Scot started from the front of the first row in Phillip Island, he did so courtesy of a grid penalty that saw Danny Kent demoted six places of the grid.
In Valencia, McPhee set the fastest time of the session early on and, despite a crash late on, held on to make his debut appearance in the qualifying press conference on the day his plans for 2016 were announced.
“I was delighted in Phillip Island to be starting from pole position but to be the fastest guy today is much more important for me,” said McPhee, who has been using the 2014 Honda frame in the past four races, since there has been a notable upturn in form.
“Those were proper conditions and there wasn't anything holding anyone else back. To finish top in this way is really nice for me and it shows a lot of progress has been made.
“When I crashed I was pushing to improve my lap time. I went through sector one with a red helmet, two tenths faster than my pole position lap. It showed we had some more pace. Normally riders post their pole position lap at the end but I did it from early in the session, in the first outing. I thought there was no way no one would improve towards the end of the session.
“To be honest Valencia has not really suited me in the past. We came here last year and qualifying was a bit of a struggle. In the race I found myself in a good position. The pace seemed to be a little bit slower. There were plenty of passing opportunities. In that respect I enjoyed it but I was taken out. Obviously we we'll be trying to avoid that but I'm looking forward to the race.”
McPhee will remain with the Racing Team Germany squad in 2016 as the outfit switches to Peugeot machinery for the first time. Before he tests that machinery however, his final race aboard the Honda will be far from straightforward as he foresees a frantic dice early on in the race.
“I think it's going to be very close with a big group, no smaller than ten riders. If I could break away with a group of ten guys that'd be an ideal situation. I have a funny feeling the first half of the race is going to be one big train from first to last and then things might start breaking up from there.”
While fellow Brit Danny Kent struggled to 18th on the grid, McPhee feels a miracle is needed for the Englishman not to take the Moto3 title.
“It's really easy not to score points, put it that way. If I can win I'll be happy and I'm sure Danny will be too. It's going to be difficult for Danny to score points but I think it will be more difficult for Oliveira to win.
“For Oliveira to win and Danny not to be in the points would be a little bit of a miracle but anything can happen in Moto3 racing. Danny has had a great season. On any other weekend a top ten finish is a no brainer for Danny.”