Speed Up riders left and right of the World Championship leader on the front row
Fermin Aldeguer has grabbed the second Moto2™ pole position of his career in lap-record pace at the Animoca Brands Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix. The Spaniard clocked a 1:32.233 in Q2 at Phillip Island while Alonso Lopez made it a one-three for the Beta Tool Speed Up squad. Set to line up between the two Boscoscuro pilots will be World Championship leader Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo), who will start a full 11 positions ahead of title rival Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) on the grid.
Speed Up by name and by nature
Lopez had dominated FP3 earlier in the day, when Aldeguer got closest, but it was the latter of the Speed Up riders who went on an early charge in Q2. Aldeguer nailed the 1:32.233 on his first flying lap, already better than Tito Rabat’s eight-year-old All Time Lap Record for the intermediate class, while Fernandez moved into second on his second flyer by setting a 1:32.306 and Lopez sat third on a 1:32.543.
Those three lap times would prove difficult to beat as the 15-minute session wore on, although it was not for lack of trying on Fernandez’s part. In fact, both he and Manuel Gonzalez (Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team), who had topped Q1, would be given conduct warnings when they had a close call at the newly renamed Miller Corner (Turn 4) after Fernandez tried to overtake. But, that was not the end of the Q2 shenanigans.
In the latest ‘only in Australia’ moment of the weekend, the session was red-flagged with 36 seconds to go due to the presence of two of the local geese on the race track. Lopez was fastest to the third sector at the time but missed out on the chance to complete the lap and potentially snatch pole position from his teammate. Still, the San Marino GP winner will start on the front row, and he will be particularly keen for a good launch given the Long Lap Penalty he has to serve for a run-in with Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) in Free Practice.
How the rest of the grid looks
As for Vietti, he qualified sixth, on a second row featuring Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) in fourth and Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40) in fifth. Row 3 is headed up by Gonzalez, from Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Jeremy Alcoba (Liqui Moly Intact GP), with Filip Salac (Gresini Racing Moto2™) 10th, ahead of Cameron Beaubier (American Racing) and Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team), who tackled qualifying despite being left in pain after a crash at the fast Hayshed corner in FP3.
Ogura was last within a second of pole position in 13th on the grid, from Jake Dixon (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team), Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team), Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), Bo Bendsneyder (Pertamina Mandalika SAG Team), and Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Italtrans Racing Team). The latter had a spill at Miller Corner with four minutes to go in Q2, while Albert Arenas (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) cost himself a chance of advancing from Q1 with a crash at Doohan Corner, and is set to start 19th.
So, a big opportunity for Fernandez to increase his 1.5-point Championship lead over Ogura and get some breathing space in the business end of the season. Can he do it, and can Aldeguer turn pole position into his first Grand Prix race win? After the morning Warm Up, we will get our answers on Sunday when lights go out at 12:20 (GMT +11) – don’t miss it!
1. Fermín Aldeguer (Beta Tools Speed Up) – 1:32.233
2. Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.073
3. Alonso Lopez (Beta Tools Speed Up) + 0.310
4. Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) + 0.488
5. Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40) + 0.604
6. Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) + 0.625
7. Manuel Gonzalez (Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team) + 0.625
8. Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.639
9. Jeremy Alcoba (Liqui Moly Intact GP) + 0.713
10. Filip Salac (Gresini Racing Moto2) + 0.737