Luis Salom struck another psychological blow over his Moto3 championship rivals by storming to pole position at Phillip Island. The points leader snatched top spot from Jonas Folger in the closing minutes of the session with his two fellow title contenders back on the second row of the grid behind Folger and Mahindra’s Efren Vazquez.
After setting the fastest ever Moto3 lap of Phillip Island in morning practice, Maverick Vinales headed into the session as favourite but it was home favourite Jack Miller who set the early pace ahead of Miguel Oliveira. The times were significantly slower than they had been in FP3 with Miller’s provisional pole time a second slower than Vinales had gone but Alex Rins bridged the gap slightly with a 1:37.382, putting him on top at the halfway mark.
Salom responded straight away to the burst of pace from his compatriot and took pole for himself with a 1:37.358 but the frontrunners were incredibly closely matched with Vinales and Folger all within a tenth of the polesitter. Folger would move the goalposts slightly on his next flying lap to pull a tenth clear of Salom but Luis himself would make the decisive jump with a 1:37.017 two minutes from time, followed shortly afterwards by the first sub-1:37s lap of the afternoon.
Folger held onto second but Efren Vazquez gave Mahindra more cheer after their maiden rostrum of a week ago by joining the German on the front row, just two hundredths further back, with Vinales and Rins the men to lose out as they tumbled to fourth and fifth respectively. Isaac Vinales will start alongside his cousin in sixth while Ana Carrasco produced the best qualifying performance of her short GP career to finish seventh.
Miguel Oliveira, one of the other stars of Sepang, will start eighth after a crash at the end of qualifying with Zulfahmi Khairuddin qualifying ninth after ending his session in similar circumstances. Jack Miller will be the leading Australian on the grid in tenth while the sole Briton in Moto3, John McPhee lines up nineteenth which will have come as a disappointment to the RTG rider who set the third fastest time in final practice.