Jorge Lorenzo has headed the field during the second MotoGP Free Practice session at Phillip Island, the factory Yamaha rider displayed typical metronomic consistency and posted a blistering time of 1:29.602. This was the quickest lap of the weekend and put him a tenth and a half clear of Marc Marquez in second place. Lorenzo's session wasn't completely without drama however as he crashed whilst testing the asymmetric soft front tire option, unique to the Phillip Island circuit, he lost the front at the Honda hairpin late in proceedings but managing to walk away unscathed.
Jack Miller left it late to top the second Moto3 free practice session at Phillip Island in Australia, riding in front of his patriotic home crowd Miller struggled for pace in the first half of the session but jumped to the top of the time sheets with his final flying lap; a time of 1:37.033. Miller's former team mate Efren Vazquez posted the second quickest time finishing ahead of his countryman and the ever-improving Juanfran Guevara while Brad Binder took fourth place aboard his Mahindra, the top four finished less than a tenth of a second behind Miller.
The morning's pace-setter Danny Kent had to settle for fifth place ahead of Alex Rins and Isaac Vinales. Niklas Ajo took his Husqvarna to eighth place from Enea Bastianini and Championship Leader Alex Marquez rounded out the top ten. Both John McPhee and Matteo Ferrari had big crashes at the final corner and had to be taken to the medical centre for examinations, thankfully they were later cleared of any serious injury.
Championship leader Tito Rabat has topped the timesheets following a dramatic opening Moto2 free practice session at Phillip Island. The Spaniard posted a time of 1:33.417 and ended the session nearly three tenths clear of his countryman Jordi Torres, who showed a spark that has been missing for the majority of this season. Mika Kallio recovered from an early crash and ended the session in third place a further tenth behind. Thomas Luthi took fourth place but was half a second behind the pace-setter Rabat, while Moto2 rookie Maverick Vinales completed the top 5.
German rider Jonas Folger was looking strong late in the session and took sixth spot ahead of Xavier Simeon and Julian Simon, who lead the session early on. Simon was followed by his team mate Franco Morbidelli in ninth while Sandro Cortese rounded out the top ten.
Aleix Espargaro has topped the opening MotoGP free practice session for the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island. Conditions remained absolutely ideal following Moto3 FP1 and Espargaro reveled, posting a time of 1:29.749 during a string of sub 1:30 laps late in proceedings. Fellow Spaniard Jorge Lorenzo was the only other rider to dip into the 1:29 bracket and finished the session a tenth behind Espargaro. Pramac Ducati's Andrea Iannone topped the time sheets briefly midway through the session but had to settle for third spot.
Valentino Rossi made it three Yamahas in the top four and like his team mate Lorenzo he demonstrated consistently quick pace throughout. Recently crowned Champion Marc Marquez posted the fifth fastest time and was pushing very hard from the off, having a big moment tipping into turn one early on, his clinching of the title last week clearly hasn't altered his desire to be fastest. The factory Ducati pairing of Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow ended up in sixth and seventh places respectively, but the early pace of Iannone would give them hope for improvements.
Danny Kent has topped the opening Moto3 free practice session at Phillip Island, despite a minor crash the Briton finished two tenths clear of the field. A light breeze, mild temperatures and warm sunshine meant for perfect early morning conditions and resulted in Kent's benchmark time of 1:36.906 being a tenth inside Alex Marquez' race lap record from last year. Championship leader Marquez was looking quick out of the box but had to settle for second place ahead of Jakub Kornfeil and Niklas Ajo while Alex Rins rounded out the top five.
Local hope and Championship challenger Jack Miller found his feet late in the session after struggling in the early running, he eventually took sixth place ahead of Malaysian rider Zulfahmi Khairuddin. Jasper Iwema took an impressive eighth spot having recently rejoined the Moto3 class as a permanent rider, he finished ahead of Romano Fenati and Juanfran Guevara who completed the top ten.
The Grand Prix Circus has barely had a chance to catch its breath after Motegi before the next round starts in Australia. With a few exceptions, perhaps, a number of teams being forced to either take a much longer route to Australia to avoid the landfall of typhoon Vongfong, or else severely delayed until the worst passed. Still, to call spending even more hours on a plane or at an airport for what is already a very long flight can hardly be regarded as a spot of rest and relaxation.
Still, they have now all gathered at what is almost unanimously regarded as the best racetrack on the planet. Phillip Island is everything a motorsports circuit is suppose to be: fast, flowing, and deeply challenging. There are plenty of spots for a rider to attempt a pass, or try to make up time, but every single one of them requires either exceptional bravery, or the willingness to take a risk. The many brutally fast corners which litter the track separate the men from the boys: Doohan Corner at turn 1, where you arrive at a staggering 340 km/h, turn 3, now dubbed Stoner corner for the way the retired Australian champion would slide both ends through it at over 250 km/h, the approach to Lukey Heights, which drops away to MG, or the final two turns culminating in Swan Corner, speed building throughout before being launched onto the Gardner Straight, and off towards Doohan again. At Phillip Island, there is no place to hide.
After the fiasco of 2013, when both Dunlop and Bridgestone brought tires which would not last the full distance of the race on the resurfaced track. The new surface was two seconds quicker than the old one, putting a lot more heat into the tires than expected. A tire test in March means that the two tire manufacturers now have tires which will last in both Moto2 and MotoGP, meaning that fans can at least be sure of getting their money's worth.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams ahead of this weekend's Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island:
An abbreviated collection of Moto2 and Moto3 preview press releases from the teams, caused by the major travel challenges between Motegi and Phillip Island:
The resurfacing of Phillip Island at the start of 2013 caused a massive problem in both MotoGP and Moto2 during last year's Australian Grand Prix. The vastly improved surface saw lap times drop and corner speeds go up dramatically. Marc Marquez' fastest race lap of the circuit was just over 2 seconds faster than Casey Stoner's best race lap the previous year, and just under Nicky Hayden's lap record of the circuit, which had stood since 2008.
The radically faster surface led to much greater heat build up in the tires, with the rear tires of both Moto2 and MotoGP bikes showing severe and dangerous degradation. The problems forced both Moto2 and MotoGP to be drastically reduced in length, the Moto2 race slashed from 25 to 13 laps, and the MotoGP race cut from 27 to 19 laps, with the added complication of being forced to come in and swap bikes, and hence rear tires. The compulsory pit stop caused a good deal of confusion, eventually leading to the disqualification of Marc Marquez for missing the compulsory pit window.
To avoid a repeat of the situation, both Dunlop and Bridgestone are bringing new tires to the track, with much harder compounds. Both tire manufacturers have been hard at work designing tires to cope with the surface, based on data collected at a test here in March, where the factory Honda, Yamaha and Ducati riders, along with two top Moto2 teams tested a large range of tires. Dunlop and Bridgestone are both now confident that their tires will last the full duration of the race without any major problems.
MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Márquez and Hailwood: different times
Marc Márquez may have broken Mike Hailwood’s half-century-old record to become the youngest man to win back-to-back premier-class titles, but in fact his achievement doesn’t outshine Hailwood’s. Or does it?
Back in Mike the Bike’s day, kids didn’t race motorcycles. It was a man’s business. There was no such thing as minimoto racing; even minibikes were a decade or two in the future. Most racers took to the track after they had started riding on the road at 16 or 17, not while they’re learning to read and write. Thus Hailwood’s achievement – twice 500 World Champion at the age of 23 – was astonishing.
Randy De Puniet is to make a return to racing full time. As had been rumored for some weeks now, the Frenchman is to make the switch to the World Superbike series, where he will join the Crescent Suzuki team for 2015. De Puniet will race alongside Alex Lowes next year, aboard the Suzuki GSX-R1000.
After losing his ride with the Aspar team at the end of 2013, De Puniet has spent 2014 as Suzuki's official test rider, helping to develop the bike now dubbed the GSX-RR. The only racing action he had seen was with the Yoshimura team during the Suzuka 8 Hour race, where he finished in second place with teammates Josh Waters and Takuya Tsuda. But De Puniet was keen to return to racing full time, and with no vacancies in MotoGP, the World Superbike series was the obvious choice. Racing with the Crescent team allows him to stay with Suzuki as a test rider, and retain his strong ties with the Japanese factories.
Alongside his duties in WSBK, De Puniet will continue development work on the Suzuki GSX-RR MotoGP machine, with a particular focus on 2016. De Puniet will mainly be working on getting the GSX-RR to work with the Michelin tires, due to replace Bridgestone at the start of the 2016 season. He will also be helping to make the bike work with the so-called unified software which is to be introduced at the same time.
The crashes of Valentino Rossi and Andrea Iannone at Aragon two-and-a-half weeks ago raised a lot of questions about safety, leading to the Safety Commission deciding to start removing all of the artificial turf from around the circuits used by MotoGP. Rossi's crash, in particular, was severe, the Italian being clipped and knocked briefly unconscious by the back wheel of his Yamaha as he tumbled.
That Rossi did not suffer much worse injuries is in no small part down to his helmet. The AGV Pista GP helmet which Rossi helped develop provided an incredible level of protection for the Italian. After the incident, AGV took the helmet away to analyze the damage done to the helmet in the crash. They issued a press release, complete with close up photos of the damage sustained, explaining the damage done and how the helmet had protected Rossi.
The press release makes for interesting reading, and the close up photos of the damage are especially revealing of just how well the helmet stood up in the crash. Make sure you click on the photos to view higher resolution versions. The AGV press release appears below:
AGV ANALYSES VALENTINO ROSSI'S PISTA GP HELMET FOLLOWING HIS ACCIDENT AT ARAGON
Like all helmets that have been involved in falls or accidents in competitions in which AGV riders officially participate, the Pista GP helmet worn by Valentino Rossi at Aragon on 28 September was taken back to the factory and completely dismantled for a thorough technical analysis at the Group Research & Development Department.
Bridgestone today issued their customary post-race press release, containing a debrief on the race just passed. This week, it is the turn of Shinji Aoki to explain the role which changing temperatures and hard braking played at Motegi:
Japanese MotoGP™ debrief with Shinji Aoki
Tuesday, October 14 2014
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium & Hard; Rear: Extra-soft, Soft & Medium (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main), Hard (Alternative)
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo secured his second win in a row at last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix as Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez finished in second place to secure his second-straight MotoGP™ crown.
Conditions for the start of the Japanese Grand Prix race weekend were warm, but cool ambient temperatures and cloud cover drastically lowered track temperatures on Sunday, with a peak recording of just 27°C recorded during the race.
Q&A with Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department
How did the much cooler temperatures on Sunday compared to the previous days effect tyre performance during the race?
The endless stream of press releases from Honda, Repsol and Dorna on Marc Marquez' 2014 MotoGP title continues. Today, the indefatigable Repsol Media Service issued a press release containing an interview with the newly-crowned champion:
"This title is to thank Honda for letting me bring all my people to the team"
Marc Marquez yesterday won his fourth World Championship ‒just reward for a season that he started brilliantly and in which he clinched the title with three rounds remaining.
Motegi, Japan, was the scene of a fourth World Championship title victory for Marc Marquez yesterday. The Repsol Honda team rider successfully defended his title in the MotoGP at the first available opportunity. Despite mistakes at the last two races, Marquez left his rivals with no chance of catching him and could celebrate in style with races in Australia, Malaysia and Valencia in hand.
Is winning a World Championship more difficult than taking 10 wins in a row?
Marc Marquez had come to Motegi to give Honda the world championship at their home circuit for the first time ever. The Movistar Yamaha team had come to Japan to score a win in front of their home fans, and factory bosses. In the end, the Battle of the Bosses can be declared a draw: Jorge Lorenzo was just about unstoppable on his way to victory, winning in front of Yamaha's top brass. And Marc Marquez nudged his way past Valentino Rossi to take second, finishing ahead of the two men who could prevent him from wrapping up the 2014 MotoGP title. Marquez brought Honda a championship at the circuit they own, in front of the company's CEO, Takanobu Ito. Both Lorenzo and Marquez came to Motegi with a job to do, and they both got the job done.
The win capped a weekend of near perfection at Motegi for Jorge Lorenzo. Qualifying had been the only minor bump on the road to victory, the Movistar Yamaha man forced to start from the second row. He made up for that with raw aggression off the line, sitting Marc Marquez up into the first corner, then picking of the men ahead of him until he sat on the tail of his teammate, Valentino Rossi. Rossi had capitalized on his front row start, leading off the line and into the first corner, shuffling pole sitter Andrea Dovizioso back to second, Lorenzo demoting the Ducati man to third the next corner.
Rossi pushed hard from the off, and Lorenzo was happy to sit quietly on his tail and follow. But once Marc Marquez had gathered his composure again, passed Andrea Iannone, and closed down Andrea Dovizioso, Lorenzo decided he could wait no longer. A hard but clean pass on Rossi at the end of the back straight put Lorenzo in the lead, and though Rossi thought about attacking straight back, he found himself off line and with Dovizioso ready to pounce behind him.