Alex Marquez is well placed to strengthen his Moto3 world championship bid tomorrow after claiming pole position for the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island. The current series leader led for much of the session with teammate Alex Rins climbing to second late on but there were contrasting fortunes for Jack Miller who endured a nightmare afternoon which saw frustration get the better of him.
Once the session settled down after the early flurry of lap times, Marquez established himself as the man to beat after clocking a 1:36.387, three tenths quicker than Romano Fenati. Miller was unable to match that initial burst of pace and despite requests from the Ajo squad for teammates Danny Kent and Karel Hanika to offer an assisting slipstream, the home favourite found improvements hard to come by.
Jack’s problems intensified in the closing minutes when he ventured out for his final run as countless riders chose the Australian as the man to follow, looking for their own slipstream. A visibly angry Miller took a detour through the pitlane to try and shake off the pack but much to his annoyance, several riders followed him through and back out onto the circuit again. With a minute remaining, Jack jumped to eighth but extraordinarily, the Australian sat up and began gesturing at the riders shadowing him despite having time to squeeze in another timed lap. The act of petulance left him rooted on the third row.
Marquez had traffic of his own to deal with but the Spaniard kept his head to claim pole, improving to a 1:36.050 late on. Rins, who was running in the same group as Miller, proved that a quick time was possible amid the chaos to snatch second, coming within 0.014s of stealing pole from his teammate. Juanfran Guevara will start a superb third with British duo Danny Kent and John McPhee building on their Motegi form to qualify fourth and fifth, the Scotsman particularly impressing after a heavy fall yesterday.
Efren Vazquez lines up alongside his teammate in sixth with Jasper Iwema the last man between Miller and his title rivals in seventh. Alexis Masbou will complete the third row on his Ongetta-Rivacold Honda while Romano Fenati secured a rare top ten start despite failing to improve on his early benchmark.