Australian Grand Prix, Phillip Island: Friday roundup – MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Repsol Honda’s Marquez had played second fiddle to Lorenzo in the morning’s damp FP1 session at the Pramac Australian Grand Prix. Then, as the track dried and the sun came out (Track temp. 35˚C) in the afternoon it was the reigning MotoGP™ World Champion who ended the day on top. Marquez set a 1’29.383 to finish just five-hundredths of a second ahead of Lorenzo on combined times, although he was still some way off the Pole Record set in 2014 (J. Lorenzo – 1’27.899).
Movistar Yamaha’s Lorenzo (+0.050s) began his bid at closing down the 18-point gap in the standings to his teammate Rossi by topping FP1, before having to settle for second overall. The Spaniard improved by over half a second in FP2 in a session that saw the top 13 riders separated by less than nine-tenths of a second.
Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Maverick Viñales recovered from crashing out of the race at Motegi to complete the top three and he was just 0.135s off the pace of Marquez. Viñales took advantage of the sweet handling of his GSX-RR to finish ahead of Andrea Iannone (+0.161s) on the Ducati Team GP15. The Italian is looking to bounce back strongly at Phillip Island after his first DNF of the season at the Japanese GP due to technical issues.
LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow (+0.196s) was the leading Satellite rider in fifth, as less than two tenths of second separated the top five riders.
Motegi race winner Dani Pedrosa (+0.493s) was further 0.297s back in sixth, ahead of Pramac Racing’s Danilo Petrucci and the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 of Bradley Smith in eighth.
Championship leader Rossi found himself down in ninth, 0.658s off the pace of Marquez, but the ‘Doctor’ did not switch to a fresh set of tyres at the end of FP2 like the majority of the riders. The Italian, who will equal the all-time record of 328 GP starts on Sunday, preferred instead to work on his pace on used tyres, instead of worrying about setting a flying lap.
Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) completed the top ten while Jack Miller (LCR Honda), who had earlier finished fifth during FP1, was the leading Open class rider in eleventh, just 0.057s ahead of Nicky Hayden (Aspar MotoGP Team) in 12th. It was announced on Friday after practice that Hayden would be inducted into the MotoGP™ Hall of Fame as a MotoGP™ Legend at the final round of the season in Valencia.
Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso struggled throughout the day, and found himself down in 14th, over a second off the pace of Pole man Marquez. Scott Redding (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) ended the day in 17th, ahead of Irishman Eugene Laverty (Aspar MotoGP Team) in 18th.
Karel Abraham’s replacement in the AB Motoracing Team, Anthony West, was 24th fastest. Damian Cudlin (E-Motion IodaRacing Team), who is substituting for the injured Alex De Angelis, was in 25th. Remarkably, despite the tricky conditions, there were no crashes throughout the whole day in any of the MotoGP™ sessions.
Paginas Amarillas HP40’s Rins dramatically snatched top spot from Speed Up Racing’s Lowes in the dying seconds of Friday’s practice at the Pramac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix. Rain had earlier affected an FP1 in which Lowes went quickest, but by the afternoon the sun was shining and track temperatures had reached 36˚C, which led to dramatically improved times.
Rins managed a 1’33.106 on his 23rd lap of FP2 to finish just 0.046s ahead of second placed Lowes, who had dominated proceedings for most of the day. The Brit has shown great pace, but was left frustrated after a mix up with his team led to him not being able to go out with a fresh tyre at the end of FP2.
Forward Racing’s Lorenzo Baldassarri (+0.199s) was third in a close session that saw less than two-tenths of a second separate the top three, and less than a second covered the top 17 riders. Idemitsu Honda Team Asia’s Takaaki Nakagami (+0.265s) was fourth ahead of Jonas Folger (+0.312s) on the AGR Team Kalex.
Dynavolt Intact GP’s Sandro Cortese (+0.405s) followed up his first podium of the season at Motegi by finishing in sixth overall, with Thomas Lüthi (Derendinger Racing Interwetten), Mika Kallio (QMMF Racing Team), newly crowned Moto2™ World Champion Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) and Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) completing the top ten.
EG 0,0 Marc VDS’s Tito Rabat (27th) was already riding with a broken radius in his left arm before crashing at turn 11 in FP2. Rabat was taken to the Medical Centre and while there was no further injury, the 26-year-old has been ruled of competing for the remainder of the weekend on the advice of medical staff.
Italtrans Racing Team’s Franco Morbidelli was in 19th on his return from injury, while Australian Josh Hook, filling in for the injured Dominique Aegerter in the Technomag Racing Interwetten Team, ended the day in 25th.
A fastest lap of 1’37.209 put Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Oliveira top of Friday practice at a rather wet and windy Phillip Island. The Portuguese rider set his time in the morning before rain affected FP2 in the afternoon, which prevented several riders from improving their pace.
Oliveira’s time was therefore still over a second off Alex Marquez’s 2014 Pole Record (1’36.050), but good enough to see him push Leopard Racing’s Danny Kent into second by 0.210s.
The British rider, who is guaranteed to lift the title on Sunday if he wins or finishes in second, also set his fastest time in FP1 before being sidelined in FP2 with clutch problems that stopped him failing from completing a lap. Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Jorge Navarro (+0.322s) left it until late in FP2 when the track had dried to set his fastest time, which was good enough for third.
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Brad Binder (+0.489s) also improved in the afternoon to finish fifth fastest, ahead of Leopard Racing’s Efren Vazquez (+0.667s) and Romano Fenati (+0.682s) on the Sky Racing Team VR46 KTM in sixth.
Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) set the seventh fastest time despite a heavy crash at Doohan Corner in FP1, while Phillip Oettl (Schedl GP Racing) was in eighth. Isaac Viñales crashed in each session and had to go to the Medical Centre before being declared fit, but still managed to set a time good enough for ninth, with Jakub Kornfeil (Drive M7 SIC) completing the top ten.
Scotsman John McPhee (SAXOPRINT RTG) ended the day in 15th, while Fabio Quartararo (Estrella Galicia 0,0) was 32nd, as he still looks to regain 100% fitness in his recovery from a broken left ankle suffered in Misano. Joan Mir, who is substituting for injured Hiroki Ono in the Leopard Racing team, was 23rd.