John McPhee will start from pole position for the first time in his Moto3 career in tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix. The Scotsman was pipped in the dying seconds of qualifying by Danny Kent but with the champion-elect receiving a six-place grid penalty for slow riding in practice, McPhee is promoted to pole.
Kent’s penalty was confirmed in the build-up to qualifying and the championship leader was a picture of frustration as traffic threatened to leave him mired in the midfield. As he exited the pits for his final run, with a swarm of riders following him on his way, Kent was lying in tenth spot but the Leopard rider somehow managed to navigate his way through the chaos on his final lap to set a 1:36.180, three tenths quicker than anyone else.
Although he didn’t ultimately top the timesheets, McPhee had been a contender for pole position throughout, setting the initial pace on a 1:36.914, and it wasn’t until the midway point in the session that Jorge Navarro usurped him. The Spaniard lowered his own benchmark with four minutes remaining but McPhee jumped back to the top in the dying seconds, ensuring he would start from pole regardless of Kent’s last gasp stunner.
Miguel Oliveira, still a mathematical contender for the world crown, starts second on the grid ahead of Efren Vazquez after both riders edged out Navarro with the Estrella Galicia rider relegated to fourth spot. Motegi polesitter Romano Fenati lines up fifth ahead of Livio Loi while Kent heads row three in seventh.
Maria Herrera will start from a career-best eighth with Jakub Kornfeil alongside while Brad Binder fell back to tenth after his Red Bull Ajo KTM broke down fifteen minutes from time. The South African’s problems paled in comparison to Enea Bastianini though who could only manage 29th, leaving his title challenge hanging by a thread.