Front row start for Redding at Phillip Island
For the sixth time this season and for the second race in succession, Scott Redding will start from the front row of the grid in tomorrow's 25-lap Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island. Mika Kallio faces a tough race tomorrow, after qualifying on the fifth row of the grid in 14th position today.
Redding ended this morning's final free practice session at the top of the timesheet, after bettering both the lap record and pole position record at Phillip Island with a lap time of 1'34.018, set in the final third of the 45-minute session.
The 19-year-old Briton carried the same pace into qualifying, briefly topping the timesheet before being demoted to second place by Pol Espargaro, who put in an impressive lap shortly before a rain shower arrived to disrupt proceedings. Redding looked set to challenge Espargaro's time right at the end of the qualifying session, but lost out and had to settle for second on the grid after a near highside coming onto the Gardner straight.
Kallio struggled in free practice to find a front-end set up on his Kalex Moto2 machine that provided the confidence necessary for the Marc VDS rider to push at the ultra-fast Phillip Island circuit. Kallio's crew made improvements to the set-up for qualifying only for the 29-year-old Finn to be held up in traffic on each of his pit exits.
Despite qualifying in 14th position, meaning he will start tomorrow's Australian Moto2 Grand Prix from the fifth row of the grid, Kallio remains confident that with further improvements to the bike during tomorrow's warm up he can fight for a top ten finish in the race.
Scott Redding #45: 2nd – 1'34.264
“The rain yesterday meant we were a bit short on dry track time, but we managed to make up for that today and I was fastest in the final free practice session this morning. I thought I'd be able to go quicker in qualifying, but the rain arrived just as I was building up to try and better this morning's lap time. Espargaro has been fast and consistent all weekend, but I was really surprised when he put in such a fast lap and so early on in qualifying. He will be the man to beat tomorrow; I need to stick with him from the start and not let him get away at the front. As the race progresses we know the tyres will drop off a lot and, when that happens, I think the advantage will swing in my favour. I want a race win before the end of the season and I think I have a good chance of getting it here tomorrow.”
Mika Kallio #36: 14th – 1'35.071
“I struggled today with the front end of the bike; I just couldn't seem to get the feedback I needed to push for a quick lap with any confidence. We made some changes that gave some improvement, but it was still a problem going into qualifying. Unfortunately I had a couple of other issues to contend with in qualifying. My ideal lap was about half a second quicker than my fastest lap, because it was difficult to string a good lap together with all the traffic. I don't mind riders waiting for a tow, but when they do it on the racing line and make no effort to get out of the way of faster riders then it's not only frustrating but dangerous too. We've had meetings about this with race direction, who promised penalties, but it was the same story today. Tomorrow I need to get a good start and then try and pick off riders as quickly as I can if I'm to leave here with a top ten finish.
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“Scott has been close to the top of the timesheet all weekend here, despite the infamous Phillip Island weather disrupting three of the four sessions, including qualifying. If it's dry tomorrow then I'm confident that Scott can race for the win. In the early stages he'll need to stick like glue to Pol Espargaro, who has shown incredible speed and consistency here, if he is to mount a challenge as the race progresses and grip becomes more difficult to find. He'll also need to keep a close eye on Marc Marquez, who'd I'm sure will be keen to seal the world championship with a win tomorrow. Mika struggled today, both with a lack of confidence in the front end of the bike and with traffic in qualifying. It will be difficult for him tomorrow, but we've seen him fight his way through from the fifth row before and I'm confident he can secure a top ten finish tomorrow.”