De Angelis Snatches Phillip Island Pole In Frantic Finale

Alex de Angelis - Photo Credit:
Alex de Angelis - Photo Credit:

Alex De Angelis
took his first pole position in exactly a year in a dramatic conclusion to qualifying at Phillip Island. A mid-session shower turned the race for pole into a lottery and the JIR rider pulled out the winning ticket, leading an unusual front row.

Conditions were dry when the session started and Scott Redding set the early pace on a 1:35.129. Moments later, rain began to fall and the British teenager couldn't believe his luck as a maiden pole in Grand Prix racing loomed on the horizon.

There were contrasting fortunes for fellow countryman Bradley Smith who languished down in 16th but the Tech 3 rider found a window of dry weather to take sixth, but the leaderboard would receive a major shake-up in the dying seconds.

With a couple of minutes to go, the riders poured out onto the race track as the rain had relented, putting Redding's provisional pole position up for grabs. Mattia Pasini was the first to stake a claim as the Ioda Racing rider clocked a 1:35.092 but several men were on pole schedule behind him.

Championship hopeful Stefan Bradl, desperate to capitalise on Marc Marquez's one minute penalty, took over at the top with a 1:34.902 but Kenan Sofuoglu followed him over the line with a 1:34.729, putting the Turk in line for a maiden pole position.

De Angelis was having none of it though and produced a perfectly timed effort to snatch pole by a tenth of a second, the question now was whether he would hang onto it. The main threat was coming from the Tech 3 riders as Bradley Smith jumped up to third, only for teammate Mike Di Meglio to knock him straight off the front row, taking a stunning second.

Scott Redding couldn't regain the top spot he'd held for much of the session but recovered up to third, although Yuki Takahashi managed to edge him onto the second row with the very last lap of the session.

Redding will still start an excellent fourth ahead of Sofuoglu while Pol Espargaro snuck up to sixth, almost unnoticed in the chaos that ruled at the end of qualifying. This demoted Bradley Smith but seventh is still a decent result under the circumstances and the Briton will have Stefan Bradl alongside in eighth.

The German may not have taken full advantage of Marc Marquez's problems but remains in a wonderful position to retake the championship lead tomorrow. Thomas Luthi, who caused Bradl such difficulty in Japan will start next door in ninth while one-time polesitter Mattia Pasini fell all the way down to tenth.

For what it's worth, Marc Marquez set the 13th fastest time but the series leader chose not to go out with everyone else late on, knowing that he would start at the back due to the penalty imposed after free practice.