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October 15th, 2011
Johann Zarco claimed his fourth pole position of the year, despite a heavy crash in the final minute of qualifying for the 125cc Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island.
The Frenchman set three times that would have been good enough for pole on his Ajo Derbi, the best of them a 1m39.207s lap coming with 16 minutes remaining.
It meant that he didn’t need to improve as he began his final flying lap in the last minute of the session. But he tried hard anyway; too hard, in fact, as he lost the front end of his bike at the uphill entry to Lukey Heights and fell.
Fortunately, for the man who is Nico Terol’s only threat for the world championship, he was able to walk away from the accident. Jakub Kornfeil, who took to the grass in avoidance, was not so lucky as he was removed on a stretcher after falling from his Ongetta Aprilia as he hit the gravel.
With Zarco’s pole assured, the main battle was for second place on the grid between Germans Jonas Folger and Sandro Cortese.
Folger, who had not qualified on the front row since the 2009 Catalan Grand Prix, looked to have sewn up second spot with a superb effort with three minutes left on his Ajo Aprilia, but Cortese was in no mood to be beaten, and retook the position just seconds later on his Racing Team Germany Aprilia.
Terol, who can become world champion on Sunday, headed the second row ahead of his Aspar Aprilia team-mate Hector Faubel and Efren Vazquez’s Ajo Derbi.
Danny Kent, riding yet another Ajo bike – this time an Aprilia – lay fifth with a minute to go, but was demoted to seventh by the chequered flag, while Alberto Moncayo (Andalucia Aprilia) and Maverick Vinales (Blusens Aprilia) completed the third row.
The top 10 was rounded out by RW Aprilia rider Luis Salom, who recovered from a mid-session crash at MG corner to take the position.
Times to follow…