Monster Yamaha Tech3 team rider Pol Espargaro will start the Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix from the front row of the grid after storming to third in qualifying today. The Spaniard got straight to work in the hour-long morning session, which was extended due to yesterday’s second practice being cut short because of the bad weather. Today, rain fell again midway through FP3 but Espargaro impressively went on to speed to 4th by the time the chequered flag fell. Then, in Q2, he leapt into life with his sights set on clinching a strong qualifying placement. After changing to slick tyres halfway through the session, he returned to the track and pushed on before eventually posting his personal best on his last lap in what was a nail-biting finish. His efforts saw him seize 3rd which marks his second front row qualifying result in the premier class and his first since Le Mans, 2014. Tomorrow the 25-year-old, who will begin the race as the leading Yamaha rider, will seek to take advantage of his notable grid position to claim the top independent rider honours.

On the other hand, Bradley Smith produced a brave effort to seal a fifth-row start for the round 16 fight tomorrow, which will be his 100th Grand Prix with the Tech3 Racing team. The 25-year-old commenced the day by battling against the mixed conditions in FP3, which he completed in 16th as the inconsistent rain continued to fall. Then, after positively building up to qualifying one by finishing FP4 in 9th, he got straight into gear when the 15-minute session got underway. Smith set a rapid time on his third lap whilst riding with wet tyres which left him inside the top two qualifying slots to get into Q2. However, after changing to intermediates, he was pushing to improve his time in the final moments of the session, but he unfortunately fell at turn 8. Luckily, the British star did not damage his already injured knee any further and now he confidently seeks to compete for the best possible result in tomorrow’s race.

Pol Espargaro

Position: 3rd - Time: 1'31.107 - Laps:9


Pol Espargaro - 2016"I am very happy with the qualifying result and it is a great feeling, but also a little bit strange to know that I will start on the front row! This weekend has not been easy with regards to the weather, but we always have to expect it to be like this here at Phillip Island. However, in qualifying, we were lucky because it didn’t rain and we were fast straight away. For sure, it’s risky to go out on slicks whilst the sky is dark and it looks like it could rain at any moment, but at the end of the day, we made the right choice at the right time and we got the front row. Of course, this does not mean that we will automatically finish in the top five tomorrow and I expect a tough fight, but today’s result is positive for us, the team and the sponsors. We did a good job and now we will have to see what we can do in the dry conditions tomorrow. We have only ridden a handful of laps in the dry, so it is really useful that the warm up has been extended, but anyway, I am delighted with today’s performance and I look forward to the race.."


Bradley Smith

Position: 14th - Time: 1'41.129 - Laps: 4


Bradley Smith - 2016"Today was another tricky day with the weather but the team did a great job and I did my best. I had a good feeling in the wet conditions during FP4 and also for the initial part of QP1. I felt comfortable and I decided to gamble as I thought that the intermediate tyres were the right ones to use in the final stages of qualifying one. Yet, unfortunately, because the clock was ticking down and due to the adrenalin also, I pushed a bit too hard on my out lap and crashed at turn 8. Luckily, I am ok, but I am disappointed that I made an error like that. Nevertheless, I am happy that I took the risk with the tyres because I knew there was a good chance that I could get into Q2. On the grid, I will be surrounded by fast riders so of course, they will be moving forward when the race starts and I hope to join them. We will try to make the best setting that we can in the next 24 hours in order to be as ready as possible because this race will be tough due to the lack of dry track time in the practice sessions. However, we will gain some information this afternoon, and I will also have a look at my teammate’s data who did a good job to get onto the front row."



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