There are plenty of ways of explaining the results of qualifying at Phillip Island. Lack of set up time in consistent conditions make the qualifying order a bit of a lottery. Rain and wind coming in off the Bass Strait and the weather changing every minute or so meant getting your timing and strategy right was crucial. Changing track conditions and unpredictable weather meant that some teams gambled right on whether to have their bikes in a wet set up, on intermediates, or on slicks. Or even on the correct mixture of tires front and rear.
In reality, though, the main factor in determining the qualifying order was this: the temperature in the front tire. Riders who could generate it had confidence in the front and could push hard in the sketchy and cold conditions. Riders who couldn't, languished well down the order, unable to feel the front and unable to lap with any confidence or feedback from the tires.
That explains why Marc Márquez and Cal Crutchlow are on the front row of the grid at Phillip Island, while the factory Yamahas languish back in twelfth and fifteenth place (or "on the fourth and fifth row of the grid" as it is known in press release speak). The Hondas have a tendency to overheat the tires due to the way they brake and their geometry. The Yamahas lean heavily on the front tire to generate corner speed, and on the edge of the rear tire to maintain it. At Phillip Island, it was too cold and too windy to do either.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after a weather-hit qualifying at Phillip Island:
Historic 65th pole for Marquez at Phillip Island, Hayden an impressive seventh
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after a wet qualifying at Phillip Island:
Frantic fifth pole position of 2016 for Brad Binder
Newly crowned Moto3 World Champion takes pole position at Australian GP in ‘smash and grab’ qualifying session. Bo Bendsneyder claims a positive fourth row.
10/22/2016 - Phillip Island Circuit, Australia
Nicky Hayden, the 2006 MotoGP champion and current World Superbike rider, finished FP4 at the top of the timesheet when a fortuitous downpour ended the dry qualifying on slicks just after the American set a fast lap. World Champion Marc Marquez finished second 3.2-seconds behind. But the Spaniard might have been the real winner. His 1'40.031 on full wet tires after a rainstorm interrupted practice, was nearly a second faster than next quickest rider, Aleix Espargaro.
SUNDAY UPDATE: Two riders were docked starting positions late Saturday so the grid has been reshuffled. Fabio Quartararo was remanded to the rear of the grid after race direction found illegal software in the KTM's ECU. He will start at the back of the grid and every rider -- except pole-sitter Brad Binder -- will move forward one position. And Francesco Bagnaia will be docked three grid positions at the start of the race, bumping him from 9th to 12th and moving three riders forward. The qualifying chart (below) has been changed to reflect Quartararo's demotion. Bagnaia, who was found to have caused Nocolo Bulega's qualifying crash, will be docked on the starting grid and so remains in 9th until the race start.