For the first time since Le Mans Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) will launch from pole position, thanks to a 1:33.565 in Moto2™ Q2 at the Pramac Generac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix. The rain started falling in the final five minutes of the session to prematurely end proceedings, with Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Q1 graduate Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) completing the front row.
Rain has been falling on and off like a light switch throughout Saturday at the Australian GP but for 10 minutes of Moto2™ Q2, the riders were able to set some dry lap times. The initial benchmark was set by Red Bull KTM Tech 3’s Marco Bezzecchi but as the riders gained confidence at a cold and windy Phillip Island, pole position was changing constantly. Championship leader Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) was top of the tree in the opening stages before Marini then led the way by just 0.004 over Binder.
Personal best and session best sectors were lighting up the timing screens, but no one was going faster than Navarro. The Speed Up rider took provisional pole position by 0.3 after Binder had just taken top spot, and it was timed to perfection. With just over five minutes to go in Q2, heavy rain fell in the opening sector of the circuit. This put an end to everyone’s hopes of improving their times, and it meant Navarro was on pole for the third time in 2019. He, second place Binder and third place Marini can all stop Marquez from claiming the title this weekend, with the three launching from the front row aiming for victory.
Fabio Di Giannantonio makes it two Beta Tools Speed Up machines in the top four at Phillip Island as the rookie finishes just 0.002 off the front row in P4. Free Practice pacesetter Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) would have been hoping for a maiden pole, but the weather put a stop to that. Nevertheless, the reigning Moto3™ World Champion has a great chance of claiming his second consecutive podium from the middle of the second row, his second-best qualifying position of the year, and lining up alongside Martin will be compatriot Marquez. The title favourite set the seventh fastest time in Q2, but with sixth quickest Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) having to start from the back of the grid because of irresponsible riding in FP2, Marquez moves up a place to Row 2.
Phillip Island specialist Jesko Raffin (NTS RW Racing GP) had a fantastic Q2, he’ll spearhead the third row for Sunday’s intermediate class race, this the Swiss rider’s best qualifying of the year by some distance – P20 his previous best. Bezzecchi will propel in Doohan Corner from eighth place ahead of fellow KTM rider Iker Lecuona (monday.com American Racing) and the second of the Swiss riders Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP). Lüthi, Marquez’ closest Championship challenger, will need a good start from P10 if he’s to beat the number 73 in Australia.
A crucial, Championship defining intermediate class race awaits on Sunday in Australia. It’s Marquez’ first match point of the season, but three of his rivals are on the front row. Tune in for the Moto2™ race live at 13:20 local time (GMT+11).
1. Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) – 1:33.565
2. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.321
3. Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) + 0.369
4. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Beta Tools Speed Up) + 0.371
5. Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.376
6. Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) + 0.476 **
7. Alex Marquez (Marc VDS EG 0,0) + 0.571
8. Jesko Raffin (NTS RW Racing GP) + 0.678
9. Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) + 0.685
10. Iker Lecuona (monday.com American Racing KTM) + 0.692
** Grid penalty
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