A smart tyre choice and tactical riding sealed Pol Espargaro his first MotoGP front row start since his rookie 2014 season, at Phillip Island on Saturday.

Although he didn't commit to slicks as early as pole sitter Marc Marquez, Espargaro was a consistent front row contender upon his return from the pits in the closing minutes.

Pol then tucked in behind brother Aleix for a final lap charge that put him ahead of both the Suzuki rider and home hero Jack Miller.

"I started qualifying behind Marc, everyone went out early as we saw on TV the forecast said in 15-minutes there would be some heavy rain. I was ready with intermediates to try to do the fastest lap time, so I pushed from the beginning behind Marc, but then suddenly I saw Marc pitting.

"I had some doubts, so I tried to push one lap and then I really understand that it was not a good idea. I needed to pit and change the tyre, but I was worried - it was a big gamble because if the rain came I would be last.

"But this time we were a little bit lucky and we did quite a good job.

"Of course, this does not mean that we will automatically finish in the top five tomorrow and I expect a tough fight. We did a good job and now we will have to see what we can do in the dry conditions tomorrow.

"We have only ridden a handful of laps in the dry, so it is really useful that the warm up has been extended, but anyway, I am delighted with today's performance and look forward to the race."

Fellow satellite rider Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) will start between Marquez and Espargaro on Sunday.

Bradley Smith came close to making it two Tech 3 riders in Q2, but fell in the closing minutes of Qualifying 1 and was bumped down to fourth by Jorge Lorenzo and Maverick Vinales.

"I felt comfortable and I decided to gamble as I thought that the intermediate tyres were the right ones to use in the final stages of Wualifying 1," Smith said.

"Yet, unfortunately, because the clock was ticking down and due to the adrenalin also, I pushed a bit too hard on my out lap and crashed at turn 8. Luckily, I am ok, but I am disappointed that I made an error like that. Nevertheless, I am happy that I took the risk with the tyres because I knew there was a good chance that I could get into Q2.


Join the conversation - Add your comment

Please login or register to add your comment