Pol Espargaro claimed an important pole position for the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island ahead of teammate Esteve Rabat but the race for the intermediate class has descended into farce after problems surrounding the Dunlop tyres. Espargaro’s pole compounded a nightmare session for Scott Redding who ended the afternoon in hospital after a high speed crash.
With a newly resurfaced track and unusually high temperatures, the Dunlop rubber was proving unable to last a race distance before crying enough and minutes before qualifying, race direction announced a shortening of the Grand Prix from 25 laps to 13, a damning indictment of the tyre’s perceived durability.
The qualifying session itself didn’t bring much positive news either as Thai rider Thitipong Warokorn speared off at turn twelve, sliding into the tyre barrier at high speed. The session was immediately red flagged while the rookie was attended to and after being transported to the medical centre, Warokorn was thankfully declared ok, albeit with hand and shoulder injuries.
When the session resumed, things quickly plummeted downhill for Marc VDS as Mika Kallio lost the back end of his Kalex coming through the Hayshed but worse was to come as Scott Redding went down at turn eleven. The Briton was initially thumped by his own motorcycle as it gyrated about before being thrown off altogether, causing him to be stretchered away too. After initial treatment at the circuit, Redding .
The championship leader was sixth at the time of his accident and with Espargaro and Rabat securing another 1-2 for the Pons team, his nine point advantage is looking increasingly precarious. Jordi Torres will start from the outside of the front row in third with Phillip Island specialist Alex de Angelis starting fourth ahead of Thomas Luthi and Kallio.
Improvements elsewhere relegated Redding to tenth behind Sandro Cortese, Nicolas Terol and Mattia Pasini and with the race being much shorter than originally scheduled, the Briton will be at an even greater disadvantage starting on row four although his mere participation appears to be in doubt at the moment.