Phillip Island, Australia
Championship leader Tito Rabat has topped the third Moto2 Free Practice session at Phillip Island in Australia as dark cloud cover rolled in over the circuit at the start of the session and the ambient temperature began to drop. Rabat once again ended the session half a second clear of his rivals lead by Maverick Vinales. A Rabat win tomorrow is looking like something of a formality; if he does take victory and his team mate Mika Kallio doesn't finish on the podium the Spaniard will wrap up the 2014 Moto2 Championship.
Kallio finished FP3 in third place half a tenth clear of Suisse rider Thomas Luthi who was in turn a further five hundredths of a second ahead of Caterham rider Johan Zarco. Marcel Schrotter took his Tech 3 machine to sixth place ahead of his countrymen Sandro Cortese and Jonas Folger while Dominique Aegerter and Xavier Simeon completed the top ten positions.
Jorge Lorenzo has topped the final session of free practice for the MotoGP class at Phillip Island. The Movistar Yamaha was fast for much of the session, but seized control at the end, snatching the lead by nearly three tenths of a second. Newly-crowned champion Marc Marquez took second, just edging out Andrea Iannone, who had been in 2nd until displaced by the Repsol Honda rider. Iannone missed out on an opportunity to improve his time after he crashed at the fast Doohan Corner immediately after beating his best time.
Valentino Rossi is 4th fastest, the Yamaha veteran showing a strong race pace in his 250th career premier class event, while the Monster Tech 3 Yamahas of Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith made a late charge to get into the top 10. Aleix Espargaro put the Forward Yamaha into 7th, just bumping Cal Crutchlow into 8th. The Ducati rider had been running in 6th for a while, but lost places when the race for Q2 broke out at the end of the session. Stefan Bradl just sneaked into 9th to go through to Q2, while Dani Pedrosa managed the 10th fastest time in FP3, but was not fast enough to beat the time set by Andrea Dovizioso in FP2, meaning that Dovizioso goes through to Q2, while Pedrosa will have to work his way through Q1 to battle for pole position.
Efren Vazquez has topped the final session of free practice for the Moto3 class, making handy use of a tow in the final few minutes to set the fastest time. Danny Kent got very close to the time of the Spaniard, but could not quite beat Vazquez, sitting in 2nd spot, just ahead of Alex Rins. Alex Marquez set the 4th fastest time, precisely one tenth of a second behind his Estrella Galicia teammate.
There was a surfeit of riders looking for tows, some making very good use of them. The CIP riders Alessandro Tonucci and Jasper Iwema benefited most, ending the session in 8th and 10th. But the tows penalized Jack Miller, the Australian ending the session in 12th, though he spent most of the session leading rather than following.
2014 Phillip Island MotoGP Friday Round Up - Special Tires For A Special Circuit, And The Rules For 2016
Phillip Island is a very special race track. That has an upside – it rewards courage and talent, and has provided some spectacular racing – but it is also special in the more pejoratively euphemistic sense of the word. It challenges not just the riders, but motorcycle designers and racing teams as well. Above all, it challenges tire manufacturers: with wildly varying temperatures, strong winds blowing in cool and damp air off the ocean, an abrasive surface, high-speed corners, more left handers than right handers, and the most of the lefts faster than the rights. It can rain, be bitterly cold, be bathed in glorious sunshine, or in sweltering heat. Try building a tire to cope with all that.
After last year's fiasco, both Dunlop and Bridgestone tried to do just that. They came to the track in March to test tires and gather data to build tires for this weekend. The only minor problem is that the test came at the end of Australia's long summer, and temperatures were much more congenial than now, as the country emerges from its Antipodean winter. The tire selections brought by Dunlop and Bridgestone are much better than last year, but they are not quite perfect. At any other track, that wouldn't be a problem. At Phillip Island, even being not quite perfect can land you in trouble.
That tires are an issue was evident from the number of riders who crashed, both in MotoGP and in Moto2. Most crashed in right handers, a lot going down at MG, which would be one of the most difficult corners of the year wherever it was located, but a fair few followed suit at Hayshed, the right hander that follows on from Siberia (the most aptly named corner on the calendar) and precedes Lukey Heights. There were crashes at the Honda hairpin as well, the other right hander, where hard braking is at a premium.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone after the first day of practice at Phillip Island:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of practice at Phillip Island:
Tito Rabat dominating the second session of free practice for the Moto2 class, laying down a scorching pace through another long run. Rabat did a full race simulation, lapping half a second quicker during his race run than the man in 2nd, Sandro Cortese. Cortese just edged last week's winner, Tom Luthi, who held off Maverick Viñales to claim 3rd. Julian Simon took the 5th spot, just ahead of Mika Kallio, who ended the session in 6th.
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: