Thomas Lüthi takes pole as Moto2™ gets a shake up
Tom Lüthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) will start the Australian GP from pole position after an incredible qualifying session for the intermediate class, with Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) taking an impressive front row in P2, ahead of Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) – who also crashed twice.
Qualifying got underway for Moto2™ after MotoGP™ had seen the pole lap – from Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) – set on full slicks, with track conditions much improved after the intermediate class had seen wet weather play havoc with FP1 and then rain off FP2. The first dry track time of the weekend threw up some difficult crashes for as riders tried to find the limit, with Turn 4 especially taking some famous scalps.
Sam Lowes was the first high profile crasher to slide out, with the man P4 in the title quickly heading back to the pits to get back in the session – with more rain forecast and putting on the time pressure. The Brit then took another tumble slightly later, before reigning Champion Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) crashed out – and also hit the deck for a second time later in the session.
Lüthi and Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) were other crashers, and Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) suffered a huge highside at Turn 4 that sent the Japanese race winner heading to the Medical Center.
A late incident between Julian Simon (QMMF Racing Team) and Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) saw Simon walk away from the scene and Marquez headed to the Medical Center, left down the timesheets in P14. The 2014 Moto3™ World Champion was then also later airlifted to hospital in Melbourne for a CT scan, fully conscious and stable.
Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) was one of those who kept his nose clean to head up the second row, ahead of a stunning session from Sports-Millions-EMWE-SAG rider Jesko Raffin – who was on provisional pole for much of the latter part of the session before taking his career best result. Cortese’s teammate Jonas Folger completed Row 2 after a solid session for the German squad.
Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing) heads up Row 3 in his career best qualifying, with Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Racing Team) P8 and Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) P9 despite his crashes in the session.
Reigning Champion Zarco, unable to get back out after his second crash, completes the top ten. Key title rival Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40) played it safe in the pits as the crashes continued, 15th on the timesheets – ending the session in P16 as his final run was then aborted with a technical problem.
Moto2™ sees lights out at 14:20 local time (GMT +11) at Phillip Island, as Lüthi takes advantage – and Zarco and Rins look to take it back.
Moto2™ Qualifying Results
1 – Thomas Lüthi (SWI) KALEX 1’33.992
2 – Mattia Pasini (ITA) KALEX + 0.059
3 – Sam Lowes (GBR) KALEX +0.065