MotoGP Phillip Island: Sasaki secures Moto3 pole with 1’35 lap

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Sterilgarda Husqvarna Max’s Ayumu Sasaki continued a stellar weekend in Australia by securing pole with the fastest ever Moto3 lap of the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit.

A 1’35.854, set on his third lap of the 15-minute session, placed the Japanese rider firmly in control as he headed back to the box, with his work seemingly complete. Gaviota GasGas Aspar’s Sergio Garcia claimed second 0.187s back from the impressive effort while a late mid-pack run from Ivan Ortola secured the final front row position for the Angeluss MTA squad.

A dramatic morning on the island found Sasaki on top of the final practice times, as he had been on Friday, thanks to a 1’36.112 last lap, while Husqvarna teammate John McPhee failed to secure direct qualification into Q2, languishing down in 27th overall. Crashes for VisionTrack’s Scott Ogden, at turn four, and a highspeed off at Doohan for Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Jaume Masia brought out the yellow flags, with home hero Joel Kelso’s early benchmark effort scrubbed off for the former. Red flags returning for local wildlife as the session came to a close.

A strong sea wind continued to prevail as qualifying kicked off for the lightweight class. McPhee rolling out alongside Ogden and teammate Josh Whatley for the Q1 fight with BOE’s David Muñoz and Rivacold Snipers’ Andrea Migno also in the mix. Honda Team Asia’s Taiyo Furusato wasted no time in striking for glory as he sat the fastest time of the weekend in quick succession with his first and second hotlaps of the session - a 1’37.356 leading the way as the remainder of the pack registered their initial efforts.

CFMoto’s Carlos Tatay, BOE’s Ana Carrasco and Avintia’s Nicola Carraro held the top four spots before the standings shuffled. Ogden claiming second from Sic58’s Lorenzo Fellon and MT Helmets’ Ryusei Yamanaka before Riccardo Rossi swapped out his Sic58 teammate for third.

Tatay was the next to improve as he claimed fourth from Yamanaka in the closing stages. Migno crashing out at turn ten with a minute left on the clock with Tatay’s final P1-worthy effort deleted in the aftermath before the PruestelGP rider put his head down for more as the chequered flag came out.

A final shuffle found McPhee at the top after a 1’37.041 lap with Muñoz, Tatay and Furusato completing the four promotion places. Ogden unfortunate to miss out in the final seconds as he dropped to fifth less than half a second off the outright pace.

Sasaki was back in charge as Q2 fired up with the first 1’36 of the weekend. Tech3’s Adrian Fernandez and championship leader Izan Guevara claiming the provisional front row with their opening efforts before Masia and Muñoz took their shots. CIP Green Power’s Kelso running fourth from MTA’s Stefano Nepa as Sasaki bettered once again, this time for an all-time lap record of 1’35.854 to sit a second clear of the rest of the field.

McPhee sat ninth as the final run prepared, Aspar’s Sergio Garcia ahead with Leopard’s Dennis Foggia narrowly behind as the trio completed the top ten. Tatsuki Suzuki yet to classify a time following an early crash.

Improvements for Garcia found the Spaniard in second, less than two tenths shy of the overall target and leading Tatay, Diogo Moreira and Masia before Tech3’s Deniz Öncü demoted his fellow KTM rider. Final challenges promoting MTA’s Ortola onto the front row, in third with Angeluss teammate Nepa three places back.

Guevara prepared to line up seventh for Sunday’s 23 lap race with Foggia 12th while McPhee completed the afternoon in 16th.

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