Phillip Island MotoGP Qualifying 2016
Just like Friday, weather played the largest role during Saturday’s MotoGP sessions at Phillip Island for the 2016 Australian Grand Prix. But unlike Friday’s Aussie MotoGP washout that eventually canceled the second free practice, Saturday’s qualifying sessions saw some drying on the 2.76-mile circuit containing 12 corners.
Most of 23-rider grid began the second 15-minute qualifying session on intermediate tires, but the ones who quickly switched to slicks were fastest. Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez made just that decision, switching to slicks after only a single lap.
From there the 23-year-old Spaniard who clinched the 2016 MotoGP title last week at Motegi was untouchable, earning his 65th-career Grand Prix pole with a 1:30.189 lap time. To put this time into perspective, the Best Pole at Phillip Island is a 1:27.899 set in 2013 by Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP).
Joining Marquez on the front row for Sunday’s 27-lap race are the man who won at Brno, LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow (-0.792), and Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Pol Espargaro ((0.918).
“I’m happy because, in addition to the pole, I was able to put in five laps and I noticed some things we can improve tomorrow. For example, we can get more grip, especially with the rear and on corner entry. In FP4, in the wet, I felt very comfortable, so this weekend we’re getting things right and we have to maintain this dynamic,” Marquez says.
“Tomorrow’s race is still an unknown because we aren’t sure what tires we’ll use, nor who our rivals will be, but we’ll try to make the best of any situation we find. All the best to my brother Alex who’s going to Melbourne hospital for a medical check after crashing in the Moto2 qualifying. Hopefully it’s nothing serious.”
Pol’s brother Aleix on the Team Suzuki Ecstar GSX-RR will start from fourth, ahead of home favorite and Assen winner Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS), who claimed his best-ever MotoGP qualifying result. The final rider to qualify on row two is Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci.
American rider Nicky Hayden, who’s substituting for the injured Dani Pedrosa on the Repsol Honda RC213V, qualified seventh, ahead of Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s Stefan Bradl, Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone, and the rider substituting for the injured Andrea Iannone on the other factory Ducati GP16, Hector Barbera.
As for the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP duo of Jorge Lorenzo and nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi, both were forced into Q1 due to Friday’s rain; Rossi was also penalized for running too many laps on rain tires, disqualifying those laps from the free practice results. Lorenzo qualified 12th, and Rossi 15th; this was Rossi’s worst qualifying since 2011 when he rode for Ducati Team.
Sunday’s Phillip Island MotoGP begins at 4 p.m. local time Sunday.
Phillip Island MotoGP Qualifying 2016 Results