The rain that limited Moto3's second practice worsened and forced the cancellation of both MotoGP's and Moto2's FP2. The weather -- heavy rains, windy and cold -- is expected to improve slightly for Saturday's practice and qualifying sessions. As it stands now, Cal Crutchlow, Danilo Petrucci and Jack Miller are the top qualifying times based on FP1. Race direction will post a revised Saturday schedule so check back with motomatters.com for updates.
John McPhee finished first in a soaking FP2 at Phllip Island on Friday after torrential rain arrived and never left during the session. McPhee's 1'54.692 put him half a second better than Tatsuki Suzuki at the Austrailian track but still left him five seconds slower than Nicolo Bulega's 1'49 during a slightly drier FP1. Wet weather specialist Khairul Pawi -- rainy-day winner in Argentina and Germany -- rounded out the top three.
The Moto2 FP1 session started wet and the weather only got worse, the rain falling more heavily as the session went on, and the wind picking up into the bargain. The last third of the session saw riders only sporadically take to the track. Those that did risked falling: Franco Morbidelli wrote off his Estrella Galicia MarcVDS Kalex completely, while Luca Marini fell in the final seconds after his rear wheel started aquaplaning in standing water.
Miserable circumstances which got worse towards the end of the session saw the MotoGP riders start in the rain and put in a full wet session. The weather was so poor that several riders chose to limit their laps: Bradley Smith protected his injured knee by only going out at the end to test out his injury, and Jorge Lorenzo only did limited laps in the wet, and did not appear to push, ending the session in 20th.
The Phillip Island weekend kicked off with terrible weather, rain falling heavily and the wind starting to pick up. The weather made riders cautious, and the number of fallers proved them right to do so. Enea Bastianini was one of the more prominent fallers, and Brad Binder rode a bucking Red Bull KTM to make the save of the weekend so far.
The weather gave rookies the chance to shine. Nicolo Bulega ended the session as fastest, with a comfortable lead over Niccolo Antonelli. Aron Canet ended in third, ahead of Gabri Rodrigo and Andrea Migno.
If you needed to find a time and place to organize a MotoGP race, then Phillip Island in October is among the worst combinations in the world. A track located on the edge of the freezing Southern Ocean, with nothing between it and the South Pole but the brief blip of Tasmania. Held while the southern winter still has a firm grip on the track, wracking it with blasts of icy wind and soaking it in freezing rain. And yet it is the best race on the calendar.
The answer is simple. Phillip Island is arguably the purest motorcycle racing circuit in the world. Like all great circuits, it follows the lines dictated to it by the landscape. The track ebbs and flows, dips and rises its way around the rolling hills which sit atop the cliffs overlooking the Bass Strait. It is fast, the second fastest track on the calendar, but unlike the Red Bull Ring, which knocked it off top spot, its speed is all in the corners, brutally fast turns which require courage, balance, and bike feel in equal measure. It is above all a test of the rider, rather than machinery.
That makes Phillip Island beloved of every rider on the grid. The love of the place is nigh on unanimous, up there with Mugello, and the uncastrated part of Assen. It encapsulates the reason motorcycle racers ride: a chance to surf the wave of inner terror, face it down, and overcome it. The flood of adrenaline that engulfs the senses, knowing that you are teetering on the brink of disaster, and if you step over, it is going to hurt. Controlling the bike, sensing its movement, riding the edge of the tires and the limits of adhesion. This is what it means to feel alive.
Press releases from most of the MotoGP teams and Michelin ahead of this weekend's Australian Grand Prix:
2016 World Champion Marquez and Repsol Honda Team en route to Australia. Nicky Hayden to replace Pedrosa
Fresh from clinching the Riders’ Championship at Motegi with Marc Marquez, the Repsol Honda team has packed up in Japan and is headed to Australia for Round 16 of the World Championship.
Press release previews from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams ahead of the Australian Grand Prix:
GRESINI RACING TEAM MOTO3 DUO CONTINUES THE QUEST DOWN UNDER
The spectacular scenery of Phillip Island hosts this weekend the 16th round of the 2016 Moto3 World Championship, the Australian Grand Prix. The Gresini Racing Team Moto3 heads Down Under galvanized by Enea Bastianini’s stunning victory in Japan and by the excellent fifth place collected by Fabio Di Giannantonio, tenth consecutive Top Ten finish for the 18-year-old rookie from Rome.
Which rider has exceeded pre-season expectations the most in the 2016 WorldSBK season?
For many inside the paddock and Leon Camier is the most popular and obvious response. Coming into the season there was little expected of the Italian manufacturer but eight top six finishes mean it is easy to see why Camier's performances are being hailed. The fortunes of MV Agusta in 2016 have surpassed expectations to such a degree that there is now the expectation rather than hope of podium finishes.
“I think a lot of our improvement this year comes down to personnel,” said Camier after the Jerez round of the championship. “Mainly it comes down to just having a little bit more structure in the team so they can get the changes done they needed to get done. The team is now more streamlined and Andrea Quadranti is the one boss. We brought in some extra staff and that has helped, but we knew last year what we needed to change with the bike and we've been able to make those changes this year.”
The FIM is taking further steps to contain the cost of aerodynamics. The banning of winglets decided earlier this year was made on two grounds: removing the danger of being struck by a protruding wing, and reducing the potentially astronomical cost of an aerodynamic war beginning. Banning winglets would prevent the first issue from being a problem, but would do nothing to address the second point. Indeed, with the aerodynamics cat well and truly out of the bag, the factories have already hinted that their focus would switch to fairing design.
The final piece in the 2017 MotoGP rider puzzle has been slotted into place. Today, the Pull & Bear Aspar team announced that they have signed Karel Abraham to ride for them for 2017.Abraham will replace Yonny Hernandez, and will race a Ducati Desmosedici GP15.
Hernandez had initially been expected to keep his ride for 2017, but rumors that Aspar was unhappy with the performance of Hernandez had been swirling since mid-season, becoming more concrete at Aragon. Hernandez is currently 22nd in the MotoGP standings, and last of the regular MotoGP riders. He has scored just 17 points in 15 races, while teammate Eugene Laverty has racked up 71 points and is 12th in the championship, and second satellite Ducati.
How does Marquez ride the way he does – apparently always over the limit – and get away with it?
All of racing – if you are anywhere near the front – is a knife edge. And the closer you get to the front, the sharper that knife edge becomes. MotoGP is a razor edge, sharpened to the point where any normal person will bleed if they even dare touch the blade. MotoGP is not a forgiving environment, no matter how easy it looks through the lens of the television cameras. Despite all the smiles, the sponsor meet-and-greets, the armies of PR people marching this way and that, it is a mean, vicious and pitiless sport. Like cage fighting, but at 200 miles an hour.
I am not a great follower of Formula 1 car racing, but I was glad to find out a few weeks ago that Nigel Roebuck, doyen of F1 reporting over the past few decades, is a big fan of MotoGP. It reminds him of how F1 was many years ago: men putting themselves out there in a wild world of risk, walking the line, because that’s what excites them.
“I never miss watching a race,” he told me when we met at a Motor Sport magazine do a few weeks ago.
Jonathan Rea stands on the verge of defending his World Superbike title after finishing second at Jerez in Race 2. The Northern Irishman came out on top of a tussle with his Kawasaki teammate, Tom Sykes, and will enter the final round of the season with an almost unassailable 48 point lead.
Press releases from the teams and Michelin after Sunday's MotoGP race at Motegi:
Marc Marquez crowned 2016 World Champion at Motegi
Marc Marquez took a remarkable victory at Motegi today to become the 2016 MotoGP World Champion with three races to go, in front of Honda President Chief Executive Officer and Representative Director Mr. Takahiro Hachigo, who joined Marc on the podium, Operating Officer and Director Mr. Shinji Aoyama and HRC President Mr. Yoshishige Nomura.