A late fall was not enough to prevent Mattia Pasini claiming pole as his early pace held on to the top spot at a blustery Phillip Island in qualifying for the Moto2 Australian Grand Prix.

The experienced Italtrans rider was able to judge the swirling wind the best, which was changing on a lap-by-lap basis, and post the pole time of 1m33.698s - but then had to play a waiting game as a viewer in the pits after sliding out at turn four and sending his Kalex barrel-rolling through the grass.

The Italian held on to secure his third pole of the season ahead of a Dynavolt Intact GP two-three completing the front row.

Marcel Schrotter was the best of the team-mates and a contender for pole, while Xavi Vierge chipped away at his time throughout the session to climb to third.

Francesco Bagnaia’s first chance to take the Moto2 title will happen from the sixth row as the Sky Racing VR46 rider could only manage a best of 16th. He still holds the advantage as rival Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was an even more distant 20th and over a second away from the pole time. Oliveira will hope to replicate the form he found to close the 2017 season where he won all of the last three races.

Back at the front of the grid, Dominique Aegerter lit up the session with his best qualifying performance of the season, he sat at the top of the timesheets at the start and kept himself in the mix all the way to the chequered flag on his way to fourth for Kiefer Racing.

Brad Binder proved the KTM does have what it takes to post a competitive time around the island by climbing slowly to fifth, with Fabio Quartararo, who was stripped of his Motegi victory for running tyre pressures lower than the required minimum, looking to wash away any sour memories of Japan with a strong showing from sixth for Speed Up.

Luca Marini burst into life late in the session to rise to seventh on the second Sky entry, just ahead of Iker Lecuona (Swiss Innovative Investors), who builds on his front row at the last round with eighth today despite an early fall.

Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) set the ninth best time but is a doubt for tomorrow after suffering concussion in his qualifying crash where he hit the back of Steven Odendaal, who found himself in the path of the unfortunate Spaniard.

Jesko Raffin continues to replace Alejandro Medina at SAG Team with his best result since he started filling in for the Italian to complete the top ten.

Elsewhere, Joan Mir (EG 0,0 MArc VDS) was the best of the rookies in 14th while Remy Gardner (Tech 3) will start his home grand prix from 15th. Sam Lowes (Swiss Innovative Investors), who had a huge fall in practice, seemed to still be feeling the effects as he struggled to 19th.

There were also falls in this session for Federico Fuligni, Stefano Manzi and Tetsuta Nagashima.

Bryan Staring, who rode in MotoGP back in 2013; replaces the injured Bo Bendsneyder. His Moto2 debut makes the Tech 3 team an all Australian affair at Phillip Island - he qualified 27th.

Niki Tuuli (Petronas Sprinta Racing) missed qualifying as he was taken to hospital for further checks to his back after crashing during FP3.