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Pasini pockets pole, Bagnaia starts P16 with Oliveira 20th

Italian heads the grid at Phillip Island but the two title contenders will launch from their worst qualifying positions of the year

Moto2™ qualifying at the Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix threw up a surprise, but Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) taking pole number three of 2018 wasn’t one of them. The Italian, despite a late crash at Turn 4, will launch from P1 after setting a quickest time of 1:33.368, 0.256 ahead of Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) in second with his teammate Xavi Vierge third.

The surprise story of Saturday afternoon at Phillip Island comes from the top two in the Championship. Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia (SKY Racing Team VR46), who has claimed three poles in the last five races, could only manage P16 – his worst qualifying of the season. Meanwhile, title rival Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) had to settle for P20 after he also couldn’t improve his time in the latter stages.

Back towards the front of the grid and it’s Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer Racing) who spearheads the second row of the grid in fourth, his best qualifying result of the season, with fellow KTM rider Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) doing well to recover from a huge crash in FP3 to start 5th. Sixth on the grid is Fabio Quartararo (MB Conveyors – Speed Up), with Luca Marini leading the SKY Racing Team VR46 charge in seventh. Eighth was Iker Lecuona (Swiss Innovative Investors), the Spaniard crashed at Turn 2 – rider ok, with ninth fastest Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) also crashing during the session. The number 73 hit the back of Steven Odendaal (NTS RW Racing GP) at the top of Lukey Heights and after a bang to the head, his session was over as he went to the medical centre to have a precautionary checkup.

2018 European Moto2™ Champion Jesko Raffin (SAG Team) had a great session to get himself up into P10 in the latter stages of qualifying. The Swiss rider sits ahead of Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40) in 11th, Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) in 12th and Augusto Fernandez (Pons HP40) in P13.

Moto2™ Qualifying Phillip Island

Federico Fuligni (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2), Tetsuta Nagashima (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) and Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) crashed – riders ok, with Stefano Manzi (Forward Racing Team) also crashing – the latter heading to the medical centre.

An intense and intriguing Phillip Island Moto2™ race now awaits after an out of sorts qualifying for Champion leader Bagnaia. Can he and Oliveira fight their way to the front, with Bagnaia in with a chance of taking the crown? Find out at 14:20 local time (GMT +11).

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