Tito Rabat has continued his confident form and topped every session thus far at the Australian Moto2 Grand Prix after heading the third and final free practice at the Phillip Island circuit. It was a very tight session where the top sixteen were seperated by an even one second, as riders undertook race simulations. Rabat lead home his Pons Tuenti team mate Pol Espargaro by a tenth of a second while Mika Kallio ended in third place ahead of Speed Up rider Alex DeAngelis and Scott Redding.
Frenchman Johann Zarco posted the sixth fastest time ahead of the Suisse pairing of Dominique Aegerter and Thomas Luthi, while the Aspar Suter duo of Jordi Torres and Nico Terol completed the top ten. Torres recovered from a nasty high side at the exit of the MG corner the Spaniard getting on the gas too aggressively. He was obviously unharmed and continued to show good pace late in proceedings.
2013 Phillip Island MotoGP Friday Round Up: Lorenzo's Determination, The Luck Of The Hondas, And Tire Trouble On A New Surface
If anyone was in doubt that Jorge Lorenzo was a man on a mission at Phillip Island, his first few laps of the newly resurfaced circuit should have served to remove any doubt. Lorenzo bolted out of pit lane as soon as the lights turned green, and was soon setting a scorching pace. By the time he had finished his first run of laps, he had already broken the existing race lap record, and had got into the 1'29s. He finished the morning creeping up on the 1'28s, before going on to start lapping in the 1'28s and dominate the afternoon session as well.
Lorenzo came to Australia to win, let there be no doubt about that. He knows it is his only chance, and even then, he knows that even that will not be enough, and he will need help from Marc Marquez. 'The objective is to win the race, and if I win, that will delay Marc's chance to take the title, but it will depend on his result,' Lorenzo told the Spanish media. Lorenzo pointed to Marc Marquez' crash in the afternoon practice as his only real hope of recovering a lot of points. 'I don't wish any harm to any rider, but some bad luck would be good,' Lorenzo reflected. 'We could still think about the championship. But if he finishes on the podium, it will be very complicated. Anyway, we are a long way behind in the championship, and Marc can afford to make this kind of mistake.'
Marquez was sanguine about the crash, coming away totally unharmed in what was a very odd looking crash. 'It was my fault,' Marquez admitted. He had opened the throttle a fraction too much, leaning over a fraction more than on previous laps, and had been flipped off the bike, luckily not thrown very high, so landing unhurt. He had been surprised by how aggressively the Honda had responded at that point. It had been a valuable lesson, however: 'now I know I can't accelerate any harder in that corner,' he joked.
Press releases after the first day of practice for the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of practice at Phillip Island:
Tito Rabat has capped a fantastic Friday performance to top both practice sessions following the conclusion of FP2 at Phillip Island. Rabat's time of 1:33.254 was slower than his mornings effort but was enough to finish one hundredth of a second ahead of Scott Redding in second. As in the first free practice session, Redding was the first rider out on track and set an electric pace during the early stages. The championship leader would be content with once again finishing ahead of Espargaro in third. The front three look to be the riders to beat come race day, ending up almost half a second quicker than the rest of the field.
Jordi Torres was the 'best of the rest' and finished in fourth place six tenths behind Rabat's benchmark. He was ahead of the ever consistent Dominique Aegerter and impressive rookie Sandro Cortese in fifth and sixth. While Alex DeAngelis, Johann Zarco, Xavier Simeon and Takaaki Nakagami rounded out the top ten.
Last rounds Moto2 race winner Tito Rabat has topped the opening free practice at Phillip Island, the impressive Sepang victor continued his momentum from Malaysia and finished the session half a second quicker than the outright Moto2 circuit record with a scorching time of 1:33.157. Championship leader Scott Redding finished in second place a little over a tenth behind Rabat, the Brit looked very focused and sat at the top of the timesheets for the vast majority of proceedings, he had a slight psychological victory over his main title rival Pol Espargaro who ended in third place after suffering some mechanical gremlins with a few minutes remaining.
Jordi Torres finished in an encouraging fourth place ahead of Alex DeAngelis who completed the top five and demonstrated his fondness for the fast and flowing Australian circuit. German rookie Sandro Cortese and Thomas Luthi finished in sixth and seventh places respectively and spent large periods of the session riding nose to tail. Mika Kallio, Nico Terol and Mattia Pasini rounded out the top ten.
2013 Phillip Island MotoGP Preview: Of Spectacular Circuits, History In The Making, And A Legend's Last Chance
Ask any Grand Prix rider for his top three circuits, and you can bet that two names will figure on almost everybody's list: one will be Mugello, and the other will be Phillip Island. The order which the rider in question will put them in may vary, but the two appear so often because they share something special. Three factors make the two tracks such magical places to ride: they are both fast, they are both naturally flowing, and they are both set in spectacular locations.
Though their settings may be equally stunning, there is one major difference between the two. While Mugello sits amid the Mediterranean warmth of a Tuscan hillside, the Bass Strait, which provides the backdrop to the Phillip Island circuit, is the gateway to the cold Southern Ocean, with little or nothing between the track and Antarctica. The icy blast that comes off the sea will chill riders, fans and team members to the bone in minutes, gale force winds often buffeting the bikes and trying to blow them off course, when it isn't throwing seagulls and larger birds into their paths. The fact that the the track has a corner named Siberia tells you all you need to know about conditions at the Australian circuit.
Despite the Antarctic chill, changeable weather, gale force winds, tiny garages and general shabbiness of the place, Phillip Island remains perhaps the best motorcycle racing circuit in the world. It is exactly what a circuit is meant to be: fast, flowing, with one corner leading into another, a few blind corners, and lots of places where the rider's courage is tested to the very limit. At Phillip Island, the rider who is willing and able to carry the speed is the rider who wins.
Press releases from Dunlop and the Moto2 and Moto3 teams previewing the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island:
If there was any doubt that Race Direction in MotoGP is trying to impose a stricter code of behavior on riders in all three Grand Prix classes, the bumper crop of penalty points issued at Aragon and Sepang makes their intention clear. At Aragon, three penalty points were awarded: One for Alessandro Tonucci in Moto3, for staying on the line during qualifying, and one for Sandro Cortese for the incident in the Moto2 race, when he touched Alex De Angelis, causing the Italian to crash.
The most discussed penalty was of course the one issued for Marc Marquez, who was penalized for the touch on Dani Pedrosa which severed the cable to Pedrosa's rear wheel speed sensor, confusing the electronics and causing the unlucky Pedrosa to be ejected from his Repsol Honda. Marquez had to wait until Sepang to be hear what the punishment for that incident would be, after Race Direction asked for more data.
At Sepang, a couple more penalty points were handed out. One to Pol Espargaro, for not respecting the newly instated starting zones, and cutting across in front of other riders waiting to do a practice start, and one for Maverick Viñales, for his excessively robust move in the run to the finish line, when he barged Jack Miller aside to grab 5th place.
2013 Sepang MotoGP Post-Race Round Up: Pedrosa's Revenge, Lorenzo's Valiant Defense, And History Made In Moto3
Sunday at Sepang provided a fascinating mix for motorcycle racing fans. A blistering Moto3 race, an impressive, if shortened, Moto2 race, and some breathtaking action in MotoGP. History was made several times over, and best of all, the races took place in front of a sellout crowd. Over 80,000 fans packed the stands in Malaysia, proof, if any were needed, of the slow, eastward drift of motorcycle racing's center of gravity.
In the MotoGP race, Dani Pedrosa did what he had set out to do two weeks earlier at Aragon, before he was so rudely ejected from his bike. Pedrosa had a look of grim determination on his face from the moment he rolled up at Sepang, and it barely left him all weekend. He had come to do a job, the pain in his hips merely spurring him on to get what he had been robbed of by an overeager teammate and an exposed sensor. He ruled proceedings in free practice, got caught out by conditions in qualifying, but leapt off the line at the start, as he has all year, and slotted in behind Jorge Lorenzo. After four laps, he worked his way past a valiantly defending Lorenzo, put the hammer down and went on to win.
This was what Pedrosa had intended to do at Aragon, and he took the win in Malaysia as clear vindication of his form. He made an extra effort to thank his team, and his family, but especially the fans who had supported him, posting a message on Twitter thanking the people who had continued to believe in him. Pedrosa may be unloved in some quarters - especially among those who cannot get over an insignificant piece of ancient history - but his ability is beyond question. Now that the pendulum has swung back towards Honda, as it does the second half of every season, Pedrosa is reaping the rewards he believes he is owed. His win at Sepang was flawless.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after Sunday's races at Sepang:
Full report and results below:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after qualifying at Sepang:
Full report and results below: