Australian Moto3: Sasaki in control for Phillip Island pole

Ayumu Sasaki took the time to help his teammate before helping himself to pole position ahead of the Moto3 Australian Grand Prix.

Round sixteen saw qualifying completed with the incoming wet and windy weather on the minds of all and Ayumu Sasaki on pole position for the Moto3 race at Phillip Island for the second year in a row.

The Japanese rider lead after practice, thanks to some confident solo lapping on his Liqui Moly Intact GP Husqvarna. Sasaki brought that form into Q2 and looked at ease, taking it in turns out front with his teammate Collin Veijer before setting the pole lap of 1m 36.539s.

It is the #71’s first pole since Germany and comes at just the right time, with his other title rivals much further down the grid, handing Sasaki an advantage.

Joel Kelso will start his home race from second. The CFMoto PruestelGP rider went out first to cheers and brought his special Koala helmet home just 0.136s behind Sasaki after a string of solo laps, indicating great pace come race day.


Stefano Nepa claimed his first ever front row start in the final rush to the line for the Angeluss MTA Team, the Italian was also the top KTM rider on the grid.

Diogo Moreira, who was on pole and the Indonesian winner last time out, was one of many riders exiting for their final run behind Deniz Oncu. The MT Helmets - MSI rider found enough track space to climb to fourth as the chequered flag came out.

Matteo Bertelle also made gains, in fifth for Rivacold Snipers, with top rookie Veijer sixth, following Sasaki.

Oncu was briefly third before being surpassed by the riders behind him, that pushed the Turkish rider and his Red Bull KTM Ajo down to seventh.

David Alonso finished the session eighth for Gaviota GasGas Aspar, Adrian Fernandez, permanantly replacing Tatsuki Suzuki for the remainder of the season, was the top Leoard rider in ninth.

Vincente Perez completed the top ten.

Sasaki’s rivals off the pace

Daniel Holgado once again found himself needing a trip through Q1. A late crash for Collin Veijer while the former championship leader was in 15th in P3 saw him unable to improve as the yellow flags caught his best effort, leaving the Red Bull KTM Tech 3 rider 18th at the end of the morning session.

After moving through the first session top and with some confidence, his progress stalled - only moving up from 17th to eleventh on his final lap, after having to pass Perez and Munoz. The Tech3 rider was still the best of the riders to be promoted from Q1, just ahead of Ivan Ortola in twelfth on the second Angeluss entry.

A bike issue saw Jaume Masia not get off on the right foot at Phillip Island. Although his mechanical issues were resolved by the Leopard team fairly swiftly and the Spaniard made automatic qualification to Q2, he never really hit the kind of pace needed for pole. A lacklustre session left the championship leader 13th.

Penalties aplenty in Moto3

Kaito Toba went straight to Q2, where he moved on to for SIC58 Squadra Corse. The Japanese rider qualified 14th, but has a penalty to serve in the race - moving to the back of the grid with a long lap to complete.

The Japanese rider is not alone in receiving a sanction Xavier Artigas will also move to the back of the grid, but has a double long lap to complete for a similar offence.

David Munoz (15th) topped P2, but the lap he did to finish first in that session saw the youngest rider in the paddock put a hard move on Nicola Carraro at turn four. For causing his crash he was given a double long lap penalty.

What happened in Q1?

Holgado moved on with the top time, joined by Ryusei Yamanaka(17th, Gaviota GasGas), who’s early banker was all that was needed, Filippo Farioli (16th, Red Bull KTM Tech3) and Ortola, who claimed the last slot in Q2 late on, after most of the riders who exited the pits with him came to almost a stop, looking to the Spaniard for a tow.

Syarifuddin Azman (MT Helmets - MSI) was the only rider behind him, but just missed out so will start 19th.

Jose Antonio Rueda has shone in his rookie season, but the Phillip Island novice found the track a little more challenging, 24th after P3, he finished Q1 in sixth, for 20th on the grid.

A weekend plagued with mechanical gremlins saw Scott Ogden have his bike cut out for the sixth time in the final practice session, with only nine laps completed after all three sessions. That saw him not allowed to take part in qualifying or the race.

His VisionTrack team mate Joshua Whatley started the weekend brightly, inside the top 14 after P2, but was handed a penalty for riding slowly and disturbing other riders in P3. He finished qualifying 26th, with only Artigas behind him.

Injuries and Replacements

Perez is back in Moto3, replacing Ana Carrasco at BOE Motorsports, as she recovers from an leg injury picked up at the last round, with successful surgery in the last week.

Romano Fenati is also still absent at Rivacold Snipers, with Nicola Carraro (23rd) back in his seat for the Australian round.

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