2018 Phillip Island MotoGP Saturday Round Up: Courage For The Conditions, And Spying Out The Favorite

Racing is always about balancing risk and reward, but sometimes, that balance is put into very stark contrast. Phillip Island is a very fast track with notoriously blustery weather, with strong winds commonly blowing in rain showers. The weather gods have not looked kindly on this year's Australian Grand Prix, though it has stayed largely dry. Gale-force winds, icy temperatures, and the occasional downpour have, shall we say, livened the proceedings up considerably.

The upside to being battered by strong winds is that the weather can blow out again as quickly as it blew in. Scattered showers are just that: scattered away towards the mainland in the blink of an eye. But they can be scattered over the circuit again in a matter of minutes.

This does not exactly make things easy for the MotoGP riders. Heading along the front straight well north of 330km/h and seeing spots on your visor, then wondering whether Doohan Corner, a 200+km/h corner is going to be completely dry or not is, shall we say, unnerving. Doing all that during qualifying, when you know you only have 15 minutes to post a quick time, doubly so. As the reward goes up, so does the tolerance for risk.

Heart in mouth

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2018 Qatar World Superbike Race Two Results: Race Cancelled

After the shortened World Supersport race finished with almost a third of the riders not completing the race, the World Superbike race was cancelled. While World Supersport runs with treaded tyres, World Superbike's full slicks would have been a liability with all the standing water running across the track at fast corners. With nothing on the line, except Jonathan Rea's attempts at hording more records, the race was sensibly cancelled. 

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2018 Qatar World Supersport Race Results: Worth The Wait

The last World Supersport race of the year was delayed by adverse weather in Qatar, first with a sandstorm, then a rainstorm. The championship decider between Sandro Cortese and Jules Cluzel was then reduced to just twelve laps on a dry track with rivers of water across a few corners. 

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Wind And Rain Cause Delay For WorldSBK In Qatar

A huge storm, and the threat of more bad weather, has forced Dorna to delay action on the final day of the WorldSBK season in Qatar. Torrential rain has flooded the track, and garages, and strong winds have caused damage around the circuit, including to the podium area. Various videos and photos posted on social media showed the severity of the storm. 

For the moment, all action has been postponed, awaiting inspections of the track and the floodlights. Initially, racing had been canceled, but the organizers revised the decision and will look at various options to ensure that racing does happen. Although the WorldSBK title is settled, the WorldSSP title is still wide open, with just 5 points separating Sandro Cortese and Jules Cluzel.

There are a number of options for the organizers. They can either wait and hope the weather will clear, and run the races under the floodlights, or they can postpone the racing until Sunday. Both those options would cause a problem for the teams, many of whom are booked onto flights back to Europe tonight. That would also involve considerable cost, and an argument over who would bear it. Alternatively, Dorna could call off the final day of action altogether. 

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2018 Phillip Island MotoGP FP4 Result: Iannone’s Still Got It

The moody weather of Phillip Island was in fine form on Saturday, going from sun to drizzle and back in record time and the setting was back on dry and sunny for the final practice session of the premier class. The man who seemed to enjoy it most early on was Valentino Rossi, the Italian picking up top spot temporarily before Andrea Iannone reclaimed a familiar position for the Italian this weekend. Once Iannone hit the front, he had little opposition and grabbed the headline with a lap posted on fairly used rubber.

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2018 Phillip Island MotoGP FP3 Result: Marquez Leads, Iannone Still Fastest

Without jinxing it, sunshine was almost breaking through as the premier class had their go on Saturday morning, making the surface nearly fully dry but not any more predictable in terms of temperatures and wind. That meant both that riders were about a second off Friday’s best in the early part of the session and a few riders’ practice got cut short by more or less scary early crashes.

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2018 Phillip Island Moto2 FP3 Result: Schrotter Leads Marquez

Despite earlier rain proving a disturbance for the lightweight class, the breezy Phillip Island circuit allowed Moto2 riders to swap back to slick tyres barely five minutes into their final practice session. That led to only a handful of times being posted in the early stages until Marcel Schrotter decided to take the reins at the top of the pile by over a second. That gap was swiftly halved by Mattia Pasini before a couple of drops of rain made another inconsistent appearance for the day.

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2018 Phillip Island Moto3 FP3 Result: Di Giannantonio Tops Damp Morning

Matters might have started unfolding much earlier on Saturday morning compared to one day ago but rainfall had already embraced the scenic Australian circuit. A damp surface with dry patches and light drizzle falling from the grey cloud cover provided a confusing backdrop to proceedings for the lightweight class. The rain flags came out for the first time ten minutes into the session, as Tony Arbolino was finding his way to the top of the timesheets and putting a second’s gap into the opposition led by Marco Bezzecchi.

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2018 Phillip Island MotoGP Friday Round Up: The Cost Of A 4pm Start At A Fast Track

Phillip Island is a magnificent circuit. Perched on the edge of the Bass Strait, it is a visceral thrill in a spectacular setting. It is fast, flowing, the very essence of what a race track is supposed to be. But all that glory comes at a price. It is also a dangerous place. When you crash at Phillip Island, then it hurts, and more often than not, it hurts a lot.

Veteran US journalist Dennis Noyes points out that in the 1990s, the FIM commissioned a study into crashes at various tracks. The track with the most crashes, Estoril, had the fewest serious injuries. The track with the fewest crashes was Phillip Island. But it was also the track with the most injuries. The difference? Estoril was the slowest track on the calendar, thanks to a couple of tight turns, while Phillip Island was the fastest. Newton's second law is immutable, and enforced 100% of the time.

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