Spaniard Alex Rins has again defied his rookie status in the Moto2 world title by taking his third pole position of the year at the 2015 Pramac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island.
Nineteen-year-old Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40 Kalex) displaced his countryman Axel Pons (AGR Team Kalex) from the top spot at the 15-minute mark of the 45-minute session, and that's how the pecking order at the qualifying summit remained.
Rins' best lap was 1:32.523, just shy of Tito Rabat's best-ever benchmark of 1:32.470, set in 2014.
"I have a really good pace at Phillip Island this weekend," said Rins. "The race will be hard though, and I expect Sam (Lowes) and Axel (Pons) to be really strong, and Johann (Zarco) will also be in there. It has been a real highlight to score my third pole position of the year in Australia."
Pons (1:32.737) wasn't too far in arrears of Rins as he produced his best qualifying effort, by six spots, in an 89-race Moto2 career. In the process, Pons turned the tables on his more heralded teammate Jonas Folger, who qualified well back in 14th position.
"We have been working a lot to try different settings, but for qualifying we went back to what we had at Motegi and I found a good feeling with the front tyre," said Pons. "With such god grip I was able to push really hard and I am delighted with second spot on the grid."
Sam Lowes (Speed Up Racing, 1:32.787) completes the front row of the grid, but a massive high-side at turn six with 12 minutes remaining meant that a final charge for pole position wasn’t on the cards. Lowes was back-slammed into the tarmac during the bingle, so he'll also be a little ginger when he lines up for tomorrow's 25-lap race.
Tom Luthi (Derendinger Racing Interwetten Kalex, 1:32.884, Mika Kallio (QMMF Racing Speed Up, 1:32.957) and Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Asia Kalex, 1:32.968) are on row two, with new world champion Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport Kalex, 1:33.039) on their bumper.
Zarco, who wrapped up the world title at Motegi last Sunday, has crashed out of the last two Moto2 races at Phillip Island, so a finish will be the name of the game tomorrow — but such is the Frenchman's flair for the occasion he'll undoubtedly be pushing for his eighth victory in a stellar season.
Australia's Josh Hook (1:34.525) qualified in 24th (out of 29) on the Technomag Racing Interwetten machine vacated by the injured Dominique Aegerter, shaving about half a second off his best time in practice.
Displaced world champion Rabat will miss his second race in a row with his left wrist injury.