Ayumu Sasaki gave his title aspirations in the 2023 Moto3 World Championship a welcome boost as he secured pole position for the Australian Moto3, while local hero Joel Kelso got the fans cheering with his run to the front row at Phillip Island.
The Japanese rider, who comes into this event chasing a deficit of 16-points to Jaume Masia after a disastrous race day in Indonesia last weekend, landed a timely fifth pole position of the season as he heads into Sunday’s encounter looking to now collect a much desired first win of the year.
By contrast, championship leader Masia and Daniel Holgado - only one point further adrift of Sasaki in third overall - face more of an uphill task come race day from 13th and 11th on the grid respectively.
For Sasaki, pole position will be a welcome return to form after the combination of a sighting lap crash and technical issues left him down and out of the points in Mandalika last weekend.
Even so, he broke some hearts in doing so, Sasaki’s 1m 36.539secs proving enough to hold off Joel Kelso on the sister CFMoto PruestelGP machine, the Australian coming good on his return to home soil to end up just over a tenth adrift of a popular pole position.
Stefano Nepa’s ongoing quest for a maiden Moto3 podium finish was helped along by the Italian securing a spot on the outside of the front row in third place, just ahead of Indonesian Moto3 race winner Diogo Moreira and another Italian in Matteo Bertelle on the best of the Honda contingent in fifth.
Collin Veijer consolidated Husqvarna Intact GP’s positive day in sixth, ahead of Deniz Oncu and David Alonso, the latter Colombian also still in contention for this year’s title, 29 points off leader Masia.
Substitute riders Adrian Fernandez - who has replaced Leopard’s departee Tatsuki Suzuki - and Vicente Perez, in for the injured Ana Carrasco at BOE Motorsports, completed the top ten ahead of their more seasoned compatriots Holgado in 11th, Ivan Ortola 12th and Masia 13th.
Further back, a chastening day for the VisionTrack Racing team sees only Josh Whatley still competing, the young Briton getting underway from 27th on Sunday.
|2023 Australian Moto3 | Phillip Island Circuit | Qualifying Results | Round 16 of 20|
|1||Ayumu Sasaki||🇯🇵||Husqvarna IntactGP||Husqvarna||1m 36.539|
|2||Joel Kelso||🇦🇺||CFMoto PruestelGP||CFMoto||1m 36.675|
|3||Stefano Nepa||🇮🇹||Angeluss MTA Team||KTM||1m 36.755|
|4||Diogo Moreira||🇧🇷||MT Helmets - MSI||KTM||1m 36.860|
|5||Matteo Bertelle||🇮🇹||Rivacold Snipers Team||Honda||1m 36.978|
|6||Collin Veijer||🇳🇱||Husqvarna IntactGP||Husqvarna||1m 37.008|
|7||Deniz Oncu||🇹🇷||Red Bull KTM Ajo||KTM||1m 37.030|
|8||David Alonso||🇨🇴||GASGAS Aspar M3||GasGas||1m 37.146|
|9||Adrian Fernandez||🇪🇦||Leopard Racing||Honda||1m 37.286|
|10||Vicente Perez||🇪🇦||BOE Motorsports||KTM||1m 37.293|
|11||Daniel Holgado||🇪🇦||Red Bull KTM Tech3||KTM||1m 37.303|
|12||Ivan Ortola||🇪🇦||Angeluss MTA Team||KTM||1m 37.378|
|13||Jaume Masia||🇪🇦||Leopard Racing||Honda||1m 37.399|
|14||Kaito Toba||🇯🇵||SIC58 Squadra Corse||Honda||1m 37.465|
|15||David Munoz||🇪🇦||BOE Motorsports||KTM||1m 37.513|
|16||Filippo Farioli||🇮🇹||Red Bull KTM Tech3||KTM||1m 37.519|
|17||Ryusei Yamanaka||🇯🇵||GASGAS Aspar M3||GasGas||1m 37.661|
|18||Riccardo Rossi||🇮🇹||SIC58 Squadra Corse||Honda||1m 38.002|
|19||Syarifuddin Azman||🇲🇾||MT Helmets - MSI||KTM||1m 37.779|
|20||Jose Antonio Rueda||🇪🇦||Red Bull KTM Ajo||KTM||1m 37.814|
|21||Taiyo Furusato||🇯🇵||Honda Team Asia||Honda||1m 37.858|
|22||David Salvador||🇪🇦||CIP Green Power||CFMoto||1m 37.888|
|23||Nicola Fabio Carraro||🇮🇹||Rivacold Snipers Team||Honda||1m 38.088|
|24||Mario Suryo Aji||🇮🇩||Honda Team Asia||Honda||1m 38.098|
|25||Lorenzo Fellon||🇫🇷||CIP Green Power||KTM||1m 38.124|
|26||Joshua Whatley||🇬🇧||VisionTrack Racing||Honda||1m 38.224|
|27||Xavier Artigas||🇪🇦||CFMoto PruestelGP||CFMoto||1m 38.497|
|W||Scott Ogden||🇬🇧||VisionTrack Racing||Honda|