Maverick Viñales 3rd on first day in Australia, Aleix Espargaro 10th
Under uncertain weather, the first day of practice at the Phillip Island circuit has ended with the very positive performance of Maverick Viñales who took third place in the overall classification and Aleix Espargaro in the top 10.
Viñales could find much confidence in his machine, getting back to the positive feeling he had until some races ago. In the practice sessions today his performance has been consistently competitive, being between the top riders for most of the time and finally lapping in his best time of 1’29.518s, which is only 0.135s slower than the provisional pole position.
Espargaro had a positive first day as well, with big improvements from the beginning of the day. His 1’30.113 best lap puts him in 10th place, but with only a 0.730s gap from Marc Marquez on provisional pole. In fact, today’s classification is very tight, with the top five riders covered by less than two-tenths of a second and a total of 13 riders covered by less than one second.
The Spaniard kept his GSX-RR in the highest part of the timed classification for almost the whole of the two sessions and only a slight lack of feeling from the front-end of his machine prevented him to exploit his final laps in FP2 and therefore keep his consistency nearer the top of the timing.
“Finally I feel satisfied with the first day, I know it’s only Friday but such a start of the weekend is much better than the Fridays we were used to in the last few races. I must thank my team because they have done a great job. In Japan, we tried some improvements that proved to be not so effective and here we took different approaches and finally I feel much better. The machine is reacting very well, with this being a very smooth and fast track we can take advantage of our chassis and I really enjoy riding here. I feel that the tyres are very consistent in their performance drop and this allows me to focus on pushing the limit still further. For sure, tomorrow my competitors will improve a lot so we need to improve as well, we have still some room for improvements in specific sectors and we can find even better configurations in set-up and electronics. We already have some ideas and we will keep our feet on the ground. I know I did a very good time-attack lap but now we need to focus on the race and improve the overall pace. I feel very confident with the hard tyre; we must keep working with it and get well prepared for the race.”
“The tenth place is not making me happy but I am much more confident with the pace in race configuration. This morning conditions were very hard because of the cold temperatures and rain, while in the afternoon things got better and I could also find more and more consistent speed. We are improving a lot: we also know where we still need to find more consistency. I am not feeling completely confident with the front and I don’t feel comfortable in the first part of the corners, therefore we need to find better confidence with this front tyre finalising a better set-up before qualifying and the race. Anyway we have also made some work for the overall race pace and that gave me a positive feeling, we have already made some steps forward, we must stay focused and calm as we still have tomorrow to improve.”
Source; Suzuki Racing