Phillip Island, Australia
The FIM has today released the final, official version of the 2014 MotoGP calendar. As expected, the Brazil round has been dropped, after it became clear that construction work at the Autodromo Nelson Piquet in Brasilia would not be completed in time for the September round. To ease the congestion in that part of the season, the date of the Aragon round has now been pushed back a week, and will take place on 28th September, the date originally scheduled for Brazil.
The dropping of the Brazil round had been expected almost from the moment it was placed on the schedule. There were serious doubts that the circuit would be able to make the necessary changes in time for September 2014, and teams were informed of the doubts which Dorna and IRTA had. The inclusion of Brazil was a statement of intent, with both Dorna and the manufacturers keen to return to South America, as both Brazil and Argentina are key markets. Actually racing in Brazil will depend one of the circuits still in the country being able to make the necessary modifications to make it safe enough for Grand Prix motorcycles.
Below is the official, finalized version of the 2014 MotoGP calendar:
Surprises are the only thing that can be safely predicted about motorbike racing, and Phillip Island is unique enough to deliver them in spades. The long gap, dseven weeks before the second race, gives Phillip Island the air of pre-season testing … with points.
Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after the first races of the 2014 season at Phillip Island:
The last race of the day was dry at 22°C.
The World Supersport race took part in a dry, 19°C day.
The first race of the season was dry, at 21°C
Now we have seen the new format for qualifying and the changes are not as drastic as they may have seemed on paper. Familiarity with the way the MotoGP system worked helped, as did the fact that the new format isn’t that different from the old one.
Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after qualifying for the season opener at Phillip Island:
World Supersport qualifying took a few minutes longer than it should, being red-flagged briefly.
In the only true Free Practice session, one that does not count towards Superpole entry, Davide Giugliano went quicker than all but Alex Lowes in the timed sessions. Tom Sykes reassuringly sat in second place ahead of Sylvain Guintoli.
Kenan Sofuoglu escaped from the clutches of Michael Van Der Mark by eleven thousandths of a second, retaining the top spot before final qualifying. PJ Jacobsen, the American by way of British Superbike, was in third place ahead of Kev Coghlan and series rookie Ratthapark Wilairot. The MV Agusta pair of Vladimir Leonov and Jules Cluzel are the only other riders under 1'34.
Alex Lowes demionstrated that his Friday performance was not a one-off by putting his Suzuki in provisional pole ahead of his teammate. Eugene Laverty on the other GSX-R1000 was within xxx, with the Ducatis of Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies sitting in third and fourth places, following in Carlos Checa's qualifying performance from last year. Tom Sykes, world champion and qualifying maven, assured that he'd be in the top qualifying group while Niccolo Canepa makes history by putting his EVO Ducati Panigale into Superpole 2 amongst the full-SBK spec bikes.
Marco Melandri crshed easly on, ensuring that he was unable to improve on his best time from yesterday, but his Friday time was enough to keep him in the top qualifying group.
Phillip Island is unique. The opening race is held in the southern hemisphere, seven weeks before the circus gets to Europe. The track has its own climate and last year’s resurfacing still makes the track abrasive. Testing here took place last week, which gave teams a bit of additional setup, but it also took its toll in injuries, something that continued into the qualifying runs. The morning’s session in both Superbike and Supersport were lost to rain, but the afternoon sessions ran without a problem.
Four Moto2 riders are to join the factory MotoGP riders for a tire test at Phillip Island at the beginning of March. Dunlop issued the following press release on the subject:
Dunlop to evaluate new tyre options at Australian Moto2 test
Since being resurfaced in 2013, Phillip Island’s abrasive circuit surface has warranted bespoke development for tyres for top level Moto classes.
For Moto2, Dunlop is taking nine specifications of rear tyre to test at the Australian track with a goal of finding the best two race options for all riders in terms of suitability for the surface while maintaining the improved pace of 2013. Testing will take place over three days commencing 3rd March.
During the winter period, Dunlop’s designers have created tyres with new low heat generation and heat resistant compounds as well as new tread constructions. New belt materials have been used, although the cord itself is already proven in Dunlop's latest race products. The new solutions have already been extensively tested by Dunlop’s own test team at both the company's Mireval Proving Grounds in France and also on high speed durability testing equipment. All the tyre specifications have shown a significant improvement in durability.
Press releases from the World Superbike and World Supersport teams after the first day of practice at Phillip Island: