Thomas Luthi took pole in the dying seconds of a crash hit Moto2 qualifying at Phillip Island which saw most of series biggest hitters struggle.
Both championship leader Johann Zarco and Brit Sam Lowes each crashed twice, while Alex Rins’ nightmare continued as he ran out of fuel on the final lap.
With the weather finally looking to have sorted itself out and the rain all but gone, the conditions seemed to cause no end of trouble as the pack headed out for today’s 45-minute qualifying and everyone struggled to find their limit as they experienced a dry track for the first time all weekend.
Lowes’ session began in the gravel as the Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 rider crashed six minutes in at Turn Four. Less than two minutes later, championship leader Zarco tipped off at Turn 10.
The next rider to crash was Speed Up Racing’s Simone Corsi who had been quickest at the time, and then just three minutes later Lowes, who had re-joined after his earlier crashed, tipped off once again.
As several other riders crashed over the next half hour – including Luthi, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDs rider Franco Morbidelli and IDEMITSU Honda Team Asia’s Takaaki Nakagami, it was Sports-Millions-EMWE-SAG rider Jesko Raffin who came to the fore.
The Swiss rider set the fastest lap time twice to put himself on the map, although he wasn’t able to hold on to a front row position as times tumbled in the final few minutes.
Ajo Motorsport’s Zarco crashed for a second time with 11 minutes to go ruling him out of making a serious charge for pole.
Sandro Cortese hit the top of the timesheets with five minutes to go, but elsewhere on track Lowes was pushing, and was slowly dropping his times and creeping up the grid.
With 30 seconds remaining, Luthi – who had come back from the crash looking strong – set his best lap of 1’33.992, which was unable to be matched by anyone else.
Mattia Pasini stuck in the second fastest lap aboard his Italtrans Racing Team machine, but looked potentially under threat from Lowes who was on a quick one. The Brit finally managed to set the third quickest lap just as the flag fell to snatch a font row start.
A late crash involving Julian Simon and Alex Marquez resulted in the latter being taken to the medical centre as a precaution, and left languishing down in 14th place.
Cortese will head up the second row ahead of the impressive Raffin, while Dynavolt Intact GP’s Jonas Folger starts sixth.
Xavi Vierge on the Tech 3 Racing bike will start seventh ahead of Forward Team’s Lorenzo Baldassarri in eighth and Morbidelli ninth.
Zarco had to make do with 10th after he was unable to get back out following his second crash, however his big championship rival Alex Rins had another miserable day, the Paginas Amarillas HP 40 rider ending the day 15th after he appeared to run out of fuel on his final stab at a fast lap.