Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Michelin after Sunday's Australian Grand Prix:
MotoGP standings after Phillip Island:
There are plenty of ways of explaining the results of qualifying at Phillip Island. Lack of set up time in consistent conditions make the qualifying order a bit of a lottery. Rain and wind coming in off the Bass Strait and the weather changing every minute or so meant getting your timing and strategy right was crucial. Changing track conditions and unpredictable weather meant that some teams gambled right on whether to have their bikes in a wet set up, on intermediates, or on slicks. Or even on the correct mixture of tires front and rear.
In reality, though, the main factor in determining the qualifying order was this: the temperature in the front tire. Riders who could generate it had confidence in the front and could push hard in the sketchy and cold conditions. Riders who couldn't, languished well down the order, unable to feel the front and unable to lap with any confidence or feedback from the tires.
That explains why Marc Márquez and Cal Crutchlow are on the front row of the grid at Phillip Island, while the factory Yamahas languish back in twelfth and fifteenth place (or "on the fourth and fifth row of the grid" as it is known in press release speak). The Hondas have a tendency to overheat the tires due to the way they brake and their geometry. The Yamahas lean heavily on the front tire to generate corner speed, and on the edge of the rear tire to maintain it. At Phillip Island, it was too cold and too windy to do either.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after a weather-hit qualifying at Phillip Island:
Historic 65th pole for Marquez at Phillip Island, Hayden an impressive seventh
Nicky Hayden, the 2006 MotoGP champion and current World Superbike rider, finished FP4 at the top of the timesheet when a fortuitous downpour ended the dry qualifying on slicks just after the American set a fast lap. World Champion Marc Marquez finished second 3.2-seconds behind. But the Spaniard might have been the real winner. His 1'40.031 on full wet tires after a rainstorm interrupted practice, was nearly a second faster than next quickest rider, Aleix Espargaro.
The weather played a major role in the third session of free practice for MotoGP, much as it had on Friday. The session was extended to a full hour because the rain had led to Friday's FP2 session being red flagged and then canceled, but the alternating wet and dry and the chase for a spot in Q2 turned almost the entire FP3 session into a frantic rush to set a fast lap. That meant there were big winners, and big losers.