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
Marc Marquez delivered another incredible performance in this afternoon’s qualifying session at Phillip Island, taking his 37th pole in MotoGP and the 65th in his career, which is also the new historical record, at just 23 years of age. It’s also Marc’s seventh pole of 2016, meaning that the Spaniard has already won the BMW M Award for the best-qualifying MotoGP rider of the season, as he has done every year since entering the premier class.
Nicky Hayden took an impressive seventh position after displaying a very competitive pace in all conditions and during all of the sessions, including a P1 in FP4.
The day started with Marc topping FP3, which was held in mixed conditions, while Hayden finished the session with the eighth-best lap time, which put him directly into Q2. FP4 began in dry conditions, which unfortunately didn’t last long, and the session was red-flagged due to heavy rain with 19 minutes remaining, with Hayden leading the way. The session resumed 25 minutes later on a wet track, meaning that nobody was able to improve and the American remained on top, with Marquez in second (though quickest on rain tyres).
When QP2 started at 16:05, weather forecasts were threatening heavy rain in the next few minutes, but it stayed away for the entire session. Marc’s perfect tyre strategy saw him starting the session on an intermediate/intermediate tyre combination and immediately entering the pit to change to full slicks. He was the first one to take the gamble in the changeable conditions, a tactic that allowed him to put in a series of fast laps that nobody else was even able to approach.
Considering the limited amount of dry track time that the riders experienced during the weekend, Race Direction decided to extend the length of Sunday’s morning warm-up session to 30 minutes.
“I’m happy because, in addition to the pole, I was able to put in five laps and I noticed some things we can improve tomorrow. For example, we can get more grip, especially with the rear and on corner entry. In FP4, in the wet, I felt very comfortable, so this weekend we’re getting things right and we have to maintain this dynamic. Tomorrow’s race is still an unknown because we aren’t sure what tyres we’ll use, nor who our rivals will be, but we’ll try to make the best of any situation we find. All the best to my brother Alex who’s going to Melbourne hospital for a medical check after crashing in the Moto2 qualifying. Hopefully it’s nothing serious”.
“Today has been another day of changeable conditions. We tested different tyres to see the possibilities we had. FP4 wasn’t really very useful, but it was nice to see my name up there again after so long, and I enjoyed it. In Q2 we started with intermediate tyres and then we changed to slicks, but we only had time to put on the rear so I think seventh position is good. Obviously you always want to be higher up, but it was all very tough. Now I hope to have some dry laps in the warm-up tomorrow to collect data and improve some aspects for the race. Apart from the weather, everything is going very well so I hope to do a good job for the team and repay the trust they’ve placed in me here in Australia.”
ESPARGARÓ & SUZUKI ECSTAR ON PHILLIP ISLAND 2ND ROW
Team Suzuki Press Office – October 22.
Aleix Espargaró – 4th
Maverick Viñales – 13th
Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Aleix Espargaró will start tomorrow’s Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island from the second row after qualifying fourth this afternoon, while team mate Maverick Viñales was unlucky to miss-out on a place in Q2.
The tricky weather played a heavy role in today’s sessions with the conditions very variable from minute to minute. The decision of the Race Commission to extend this morning’s FP3 to one hour didn’t help so much, as the conditions changed at least five or six times from dry to wet and back in the hour. This made the management of the session very difficult and a matter of intuition and luck. In these uncertain conditions, Espargaró managed to get-in a couple of good laps with intermediate tyres, securing direct access to Q2. But it was bad luck for Viñales, who struggled to find a good window in the weather and finished 11th and only 0.064s from qualifying.
The afternoon’s conditions didn’t improve and the session was hit by heavy rain, making it impossible to develop a configuration for the race. It was the same for Q1, where Viñales couldn’t do better than the third time, therefore classifying 13th on tomorrow’s grid. Espargaró had better luck, the Spaniard managed to find a good set-up with intermediate tyres for the first run in Q2 and was very close to the top. At the second run for the time attack, he could only change the rear tyre to a slick and so his performance was not at 100% and he missed the first row on the very last lap.
Davide Brivio – Team Manager:
“It’s been a really hard day, and we managed to succeed only from one half. Aleix managed to exploit the situation classifying in fourth, to start in the front will be important because he could try to stay with the leaders and fight for the podium.
But unfortunately with Maverick we missed the Q2 in FP3 by only 64 thousands of a second, and again by less than three tenths in Q1. He will need to start from 13th, but nothing is compromised yet. He has a very good feeling with this track, although we couldn’t yet try in full dry I think his pace can be very good in those conditions, so if we manage to find a good set-up for the warm-up tomorrow we could really reverse his situation.”
“I’m very happy for this classification, the day had been very hard and was not easy at all to interpret the track. Also, I needed a bit of luck, but I could find the good spot to stay in the track and score a good time to get into the Q2. Then in qualifying I tried to give all my best, we ran with the intermediate tyre and I could be fast, then when I got back for the tyre change it was too late for changing both tyres; I went only for the rear slick and could improve, but not enough. Tomorrow it’s going to be a crazy race, neither we or others have references as we haven’t had one complete session with consistent conditions. I’ll try to attack at the very beginning and stay up with leaders, although the real race will probably start around lap 15, with the tyre drop and a more defined situation with pace.”
“It’s been a very hard day, the conditions changed so many times and it was also a matter of luck to find the good spot to score a good lap time. The few laps I could do in consistent conditions, either dry or wet, gave me very positive feelings, but with mixed track conditions it’s really hard to ride. If we had better conditions I could have been much more competitive, I managed to enjoy this fantastic circuit even in these conditions so imagine what it was if we had dry conditions, but at the end of the day we still have some options for tomorrow to try. I must say also that in the grid I am very close to my direct competitors in the Championship, so I’m expecting a fierce battle also being the catching up group.”
APRILIA BRINGS HOME THE BEST RESULT YET IN QUALIFYING AT PHILLIP ISLAND
STEFAN BRADL ON THE THIRD ROW WITH THE EIGHTH BEST TIME ON A DAY COMPLICATED BY THE WEATHER
NOT MUCH FEELING FOR ALVARO BAUTISTA WHO WILL START FROM THE SIXTH ROW
The practice sessions on Saturday at the Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix stood out above all for the great uncertainty, where bad weather that plagued the Phillip Island circuit with downpours alternated with times when the track was almost dry. It was difficult to find the right pace in this situation, but more importantly, impossible to set up the traditional work in the garage, both in terms of settings and evaluation of the available tyre options.
The Aprilia Racing Team Gresini riders focused mainly on adapting quickly to the changing track conditions. Stefan Bradl was quick to take advantage of the dry track during FP3 to go through to Q2, a goal he achieved with a seventh best time of 1'34.914. Alvaro Bautista, who shone in the initial stages, had his session compromised by the umpteenth downpour that kept him from improving. In Q1, the Spanish rider chose to stay on the track for the entire session, but he was unable to find the right feeling, settling in the end for the eighteenth best time.
In Q2, which decides the starting order for the first four rows of the grid, Stefan Bradl used the right strategy, going out straight away with intermediate tyres and doing some very interesting times. With the asphalt drying out, many riders chose slicks, which Stefan also used to do two very fast laps. The best of the two, at 1'33.015, allowed him to ride his Aprilia RS-GP to his best placement yet in qualifying, an eighth place that earns him a spot on the third row of the starting grid.
"Today I was not able to do two laps in the same conditions. The weather changed constantly, making it difficult to choose the right tyre and invalidating the usual work on the setup. In FP3, when I put the intermediate tyre on, it started to rain and I even crashed, luckily without consequences. Then, when the dry track forced us to choose slick, it started raining again and kept me from improving. In qualifying I didn't find the right sensations. Yesterday in the wet I felt better, but today I had to concentrate mostly on not making any mistakes. All that's left now is to wait for tomorrow and see what the weather holds for us. It certainly will not be an easy race since we will not have any references on the settings and on the right tyre to use".
"FP3 went well for us. We were able to do a fast lap with the intermediates at the right time. The conditions were difficult but going straight through to Q2 really helped. In qualifying, I started straight away with the intermediates. We were expecting rain, but then all 15 minutes were on a dry track. So I went back to the garage to put slicks on, maybe a lap too late, but in any case, I was able to improve up to the eighth best time. It is a good position, the best yet for me and for Aprilia, and I am happy about that, but the conditions on these two days have been truly incredible. At the moment, it is impossible to make predictions on the race. If we have a dry day, it will be important to take the best possible advantage of warmup to gather information on the setup and on which tyre to use".
Andrea Dovizioso and Hector Barbera qualify ninth and tenth respectively for the Michelin Australian Grand Prix, on a rain-affected day at Phillip Island
Unpredictable weather once again conditioned the free practice and qualifying sessions at the Phillip Island circuit today. With an air temperature of around 12°, it was the sporadic rain, together with gusts of cold wind and the occasional heavy downpour that caused problems for the MotoGP riders and teams taking part in the second day of action at the Australian GP.
This morning’s FP3 session, which was held over 60 minutes to give the riders a chance to make up for time lost yesterday when FP2 was red-flagged, saw Andrea Dovizioso take fifth place with a time of 1’34.721, while Hector Barbera was classified in tenth with a time of 1’35.300. As a result both Ducati Team riders went through directly into the afternoon’s Q2 session.
After FP4, which was interrupted for over half-an-hour due to a heavy downpour over the Australian circuit and which finished with Dovizioso eighth and Barbera fifteenth, the two Ducati Team riders went out on a still damp track for the fifteen-minute qualifying session, counting for the first four rows of the grid.
After setting their fastest times on front and rear intermediates, both Ducati men stopped in the pits to switch to a rear slick, as the track in the meantime had dried out almost completely, but they were unable to take advantage of the short time remaining and the session came to an end with Dovizioso in ninth and Barbera tenth.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 1’33.90 (9th)
“I’m disappointed about my qualifying session because over the last two days we have been working really well: unfortunately when we put on the rear slick we had a problem, caused, I think, by the low outside temperature and so, without the right feeling to try and push hard, I came into the pits. Pity, because today we were always amongst the top five and with the intermediate tyre on my first run in Q2 I was third. We made the tyre change at the right time and for sure we could have fought for the first two rows, which was our aim. Starting from the third row certainly won’t make things easy tomorrow, but I believe we have the potential to run a good race in any case.”
Hector Barbera (Ducati Team #8) – 1’33.914 (10th)
“Today was quite a positive day because I managed to do a lot more laps than yesterday and in the wet I had a good feeling, even though we still have to sort a few things out on the bike in case it rains tomorrow. In qualifying we lapped on an almost totally dry track surface, picking up a lot of information, and my feeling was good right up until the moment when we fitted a rear slick. Unfortunately, probably because of the cold, the tyre didn’t work so well and I was unable to push as hard as I would have liked. Tomorrow I’m hoping for a dry warm-up session so we can sort this out, and I’m sure that without this difficulty we could have been much further up on the grid.”
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Take Fourth and Fifth Row in Tricky Phillip Island Qualifying
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Jorge Lorenzo did what was needed in the first qualifying session today at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit and positioned himself in the top two. He was determined to continue his speed during the Q2 session, but was unable to get a feel for the rapidly drying track conditions and secured 12th position. Teammate Valentino Rossi came just short to proceed to qualifying two and will start tomorrow's Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix from 15th on the grid.
After Friday's downpour at the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit saw the majority of FP2 canceled, the mixed weather conditions continued to haunt the MotoGP paddock, further disrupting the Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix schedule.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi aimed to battle their way through Q1 to enter Q2 after finishing outside the top10 in the challenging conditions of this morning's extended FP3 session.
Lorenzo had a relatively easy pass through Q1 in order to promote to Q2. Waiting for the majority of the field to exit pit lane ahead of him, he immediately moved up to second on his first flying lap. When the pace picked up he was pushed back to third and returned to the box with more than six minutes remaining.
When the Mallorcan resumed his attack he was sitting in sixth position and set a 1'41.593s for fifth place, but he wasn't done yet. The Factory Yamaha rider put the hammer down once more and set a strong 1'40.452s for second place, which he held until the end of the session.
With heavy rain predicted for 16:15 local time, in the middle of Q2, Lorenzo didn't waste a minute at the start of the second session to get a flying lap in. Getting a feel for the now drying track, he set a first lap of 1'40.350s for ninth place, which he soon replaced with a 1'37.833s best lap, but was pushed back to 11th place as the pace quickened.
With more than seven and a half minutes left of the session he came in for a short pit stop before having another go. However, unable to get a feel for the conditions, he had to settle for 12th place, on the fourth row on the grid, with a best time of 1'36.840s.
In Q1, Rossi waited for the first group of riders to get out on track before he left pit lane and took third place on his first flying lap. He improved on his time but not his position on his second attempt, but his charge was far from over. On his third try he successfully took over second spot from his teammate, dropping a 1'41.368s. He completed another lap, while fellow Yamaha rider Bradley Smith pushed him back one place, before quickly returning to the pits with less than four minutes on the clock for a fast rear tyre swap.
Rossi was eager to improve on his second stint, but had only time to put in one more lap and was unable to better his placement in the rankings. He will start tomorrow's race from fifth row on the grid.
Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
"The conditions were really unfavourable today. The changing circumstances on track made it difficult to get heat into the tyres to improve the level of grip, so it was easy for the riders to be caught out. Jorge did well during the first qualifying session and kept his head to secure exactly the result he needed. It was a shame that he couldn't get a feel for the drying circuit in Q2. Valentino had a good first run in Q1, but when he opted for a new tyre combination to accommodate the drying line for his second stint he just ran out of time to make it work. Tomorrow we hope for either a full dry or a full wet race."
12th / 1'36.840 / 9 laps
"We've reached the second qualifying luckily, because some of the riders put in the mixed tyres when the track wasn't ready yet. That's why we were able to finish in second and get through to Q2, but in that session with the slicks was probably the worst scenario to try to make the step I needed in these difficult and dangerous conditions. We've not been lucky with the weather; too much rain, then no rain, there was wind and it's been very cold. Considering all negative circumstances today it was not possible for me to be fast."
15th / 1'41.368 / 8 laps
"It was a very strange day when it comes to the conditions, because they changed continuously and unfortunately we were never strong starting from this morning. We are a little bit worried because, though we know in these conditions it is difficult for everybody, I never felt the right feeling on the wet and the dry. Yesterday morning we started quite well, but today we had some problems so we start towards the back of the grid. We hope for better conditions because it looks like with our bike we suffer a bit. It depends very much on the pace what happens tomorrow, it looks like when it is very cold we struggle to get the tyres up to temperature and the bike becomes very difficult to ride. Starting from fifteenth is a problem for sure, if you want to try to win it is quite impossible, but if you are fast you can do a good race. So this is what we have to try."
FRONT ROW FOR CRUTCHLOW IN AUSTRALIA
Cal Crutchlow will start Sunday’s Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix from the front row of the grid, after a brilliant performance during qualifying saw him set the second-fastest time of the whole weekend.
Top Independent Team rider on the starting grid yet again, the LCR Honda man had already made a great recovery to get into the qualifying final. He set a lap time two seconds faster than anybody else in the preliminary session, despite the fact that it took place on a wet track. He then followed that up with another breath-taking lap during the final 15-minute session, using an intermediate front tyre and slick rear on a patchy surface to set a best of 1’30.981.The MotoGP riders have still not been able to turn a lap in fully dry conditions at Phillip Island. With Friday a wash-out, Saturday’s morning session was also rain affected, and Crutchlow, who had been quickest on Friday in the wet, missed out on a fast lap in the best of the weather. That meant he had to ride in a Qualifying 1 that featured some of the sport’s biggest names, but the Brit was more than up the the task.
With the lack of dry time this weekend, the MotoGP riders will get extra practice for the warm-up session, before what will hopefully be a dry race. However, with changeable weather forecast once more, it will remain an unknown until the lights go out for Sunday’s 27-lap event.
#35 Cal Crutchlow – 2nd (1’30.981)
“I thought that I would set a benchmark time with intermediates first, then I could at least come in at the end and do a faster lap with the slick tyre. I knew that I couldn’t change to a front slick because it wasn’t ready in my second bike. Unfortunately, it wasn’t really working as well as it might, and it was my own mistake because I should have gone out with the slicks and followed my gut instinct at the start of the session. It’s not normally like me, I’m normally the one who will go out on slicks first, but I’m happy enough.”
“The LCR Honda Team have done a great job this weekend and worked so hard to make all the changes. It’s not been an easy weekend for anyone with the cold and rain, and we need to appreciate the support the fans have give in those conditions too! I hope we are able to put on a good show for them all tomorrow.”
Miller will start a fast fifth for home race at Phillip Island
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Jack Miller will start the Michelin Australian Grand Prix from fifth position, his best ever MotoGP qualifying performance.
Home hero Miller delighted his Phillip Island fans with a scintillating display of speed in tricky conditions and was only bumped off a front-row start in the final seconds of qualifying.
Miller’s previous best starting position was 12th for the British Grand Prix at Silverstone.
The 21-year-old Australian is primed for a strong assault at his favourite circuit after a difficult period of injuries since his maiden MotoGP victory at Assen in June.
After two days of unpredictable weather ranging from heavy rain to sunny but very cool and windy conditions qualifying was run on a dry track.
But tyre choice was still critical with Miller making the most of the combination of intermediate front and slick rear Michelin tyres.
Miller’s Spanish teammate Tito Rabat had a tough introduction to his first MotoGP race at the super-fast seaside circuit with the variable weather conditions.
Rabat had very little dry track running before qualifying and took a cautious approach after a high-speed crash in the morning FP3 session.
Tomorrow’s 27-lap race is round 16 of the MotoGP World Championship.
Jack Miller: 5th - 1'31.754
"It’s a good starting position but I’m not totally satisfied because I could have done a better time if I had not run onto the kerb on the exit of the final corner. There was some water there and I had a lot of wheelspin and lost a lot of time. But I feel good for my home race, I’m starting a lot closer to the front than I usually do. The weather is always unpredictable so you can’t believe the forecast of a dry race but I’m ready for anything. Wait and see.”
Tito Rabat: 21st - 1'44.096
"It has been a very difficult weekend in these conditions and not helped by my very fast crash this morning in FP3. It is not easy to switch between the wet and dry conditions at this track. I tried to push to my maximum in qualifying and all I can do now is look forward in a positive way to the race.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
"Jack was very impressive especially as we perhaps missed the chance to switch to a slick Michelin front tyre for his final exit. More importantly he has been fast in both wet and dry conditions and we are looking for a very strong race from him tomorrow. Tito is struggling lot with the changing conditions and adapting from the wet to the dry with limited time on slick tyres. Tito’s potential was perhaps a little higher although it is not easy here for the first time in MotoGP.”
Espargaro to kick off Australian GP from the front row after shining in qualifying
Monster Yamaha Tech3 team rider Pol Espargaro will start the Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix from the front row of the grid after storming to third in qualifying today. The Spaniard got straight to work in the hour-long morning session, which was extended due to yesterday's second practice being cut short because of the bad weather. Today, rain fell again midway through FP3 but Espargaro impressively went on to speed to 4th by the time the chequered flag fell. Then, in Q2, he leapt into life with his sights set on clinching a strong qualifying placement. After changing to slick tyres halfway through the session, he returned to the track and pushed on before eventually posting his personal best on his last lap in what was a nail-biting finish. His efforts saw him seize 3rd which marks his second front row qualifying result in the premier class and his first since Le Mans, 2014. Tomorrow the 25-year-old, who will begin the race as the leading Yamaha rider, will seek to take advantage of his notable grid position to claim the top independent rider honours.
On the other hand, Bradley Smith produced a brave effort to seal a fifth-row start for the round 16 fight tomorrow, which will be his 100th Grand Prix with the Tech3 Racing team. The 25-year-old commenced the day by battling against the mixed conditions in FP3, which he completed in 16th as the inconsistent rain continued to fall. Then, after positively building up to qualifying one by finishing FP4 in 9th, he got straight into gear when the 15-minute session got underway. Smith set a rapid time on his third lap whilst riding with wet tyres which left him inside the top two qualifying slots to get into Q2. However, after changing to intermediates, he was pushing to improve his time in the final moments of the session, but he unfortunately fell at turn 8. Luckily, the British star did not damage his already injured knee any further and now he confidently seeks to compete for the best possible result in tomorrow's race.
3rd / 1'31.107 / 9 laps
"I am very happy with the qualifying result and it is a great feeling, but also a little bit strange to know that I will start on the front row! This weekend has not been easy with regards to the weather, but we always have to expect it to be like this here at Phillip Island. However, in qualifying, we were lucky because it didn't rain and we were fast straight away. For sure, it's risky to go out on slicks whilst the sky is dark and it looks like it could rain at any moment, but at the end of the day, we made the right choice at the right time and we got the front row. Of course, this does not mean that we will automatically finish in the top five tomorrow and I expect a tough fight, but today's result is positive for us, the team and the sponsors. We did a good job and now we will have to see what we can do in the dry conditions tomorrow. We have only ridden a handful of laps in the dry, so it is really useful that the warm up has been extended, but anyway, I am delighted with today's performance and I look forward to the race."
14th / 1'41.129 / 4 laps
"Today was another tricky day with the weather but the team did a great job and I did my best. I had a good feeling in the wet conditions during FP4 and also for the initial part of QP1. I felt comfortable and I decided to gamble as I thought that the intermediate tyres were the right ones to use in the final stages of qualifying one. Yet, unfortunately, because the clock was ticking down and due to the adrenalin also, I pushed a bit too hard on my out lap and crashed at turn 8. Luckily, I am ok, but I am disappointed that I made an error like that. Nevertheless, I am happy that I took the risk with the tyres because I knew there was a good chance that I could get into Q2. On the grid, I will be surrounded by fast riders so of course, they will be moving forward when the race starts and I hope to join them. We will try to make the best setting that we can in the next 24 hours in order to be as ready as possible because this race will be tough due to the lack of dry track time in the practice sessions. However, we will gain some information this afternoon, and I will also have a look at my teammate's data who did a good job to get onto the front row."
Difficult day for Avintia Racing riders in Australia
The weather conditions were once again the main issue today at Phillip Island, and although the riders were able to complete all the sessions today, rain and wind took again a starring role. During this morning’s FP3 session, the riders used all possible tyre combinations available for the Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, and for the first time this season, the intermediate options were crucial during qualifying.
Hector Barbera will start tomorrow from tenth place riding the official Ducati Team’s Desmosedici GP 2016. It is obvious that the conditions were not the best in his learning process with the bike he will ride for Avintia Racing next season, but he still is optimistic for tomorrow’s 27-lap-race.
Loris Baz suffered several technical issues and was never comfortable enough to push hard for a fast lap. The Frenchman was fast in FP4, but in qualifying he struggled to find the pace and he will start the race tomorrow from the 20th place on the grid. Baz hopes the conditions remain stable for the race, no matter if it is dry or wet.
Local rider Mike Jones continues to enjoy his experience riding a MotoGP bike with Avintia Racing, and despite the tricky conditions today at Phillip Island, he never lost the smile on his face. Jones will start his first MotoGP home race from the 19th place of the grid, and he looks forward to put up good show in front of his home Australian crowd that has been supporting him during the weekend.
Hector Barbera - 1'33.914 - P10
“Today was quite a positive day because I managed to do a lot more laps than yesterday and in the wet I had a good feeling, even though we still have to sort a few things out on the bike in case it rains tomorrow. In qualifying we then lapped on an almost totally dry track surface, picking up a lot of information, and my feeling was good right up until the moment when we fitted a rear slick. Unfortunately, probably because of the cold, the tyre didn’t work so well and I was unable to push as hard as I would have liked. Tomorrow I’m hoping for a dry warm-up session so we can sort this out, and I’m sure that without this difficulty we could have been much further up on the grid”.
Loris Baz - 1'43.128 - P20
“Today was a difficult day due to the ever-changing conditions, and to top it off we were unlucky in the same way we have been during the whole season, as nothing went as planned. It is obvious that this is not my year, because usually we perform well in these conditions. But I was not comfortable with the set up of both bikes, and I couldn’t find enough grip. The main problem however is that we have been unlucky. I think that at the end of Q1, the intermediate was the right choice, but my feeling was bad and I crashed. I hope we have more stable weather tomorrow, so we can enjoy the race, either dry or wet.”
Mike Jones - 1'42.261 - P19
“Today was a very crazy day at Phillip Island with mixed conditions. It was very difficult to get confidence with the bike as the weather was changing so much, but I’m very happy because I’m getting more and more experience on the bike and I learn how to ride it in these tricky conditions. Overall I’m very happy with how the day went. I tried to be as safe as I possibly could in order to keep the bike upright. I have achieved my goal and qualified for my home race in the MotoGP, so I now I can look forward to the race tomorrow. Hopefully it will be either dry or either wet, because I would like to have a race with consistent conditions. I’m not expecting any result, I just want to give my best and see what I can get.”
Fantastic second row for Petrux in qualifying at Phillip Island. Scott ends up 11th
Unstable weather conditions have made it thrilling Saturday for Michelin Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island circuit. For Octo Pramac Yakhnich, first the satisfaction for the double Q2 directly conquered by Danilo Petrucci and Scott Redding, then the joy for sixth place obtained in qualifying by Petrux. Scott, however, had to settle for eleventh.
The first 10 minutes of FP3 have been characterized by the constant changes of weather conditions that forced the riders to enter the pits several times to change tires. Thanks to the work of their respective teams, Scott and Petrux were good at exploiting the best moment on intermediate tires to finish respectively in sixth and ninth place and qualify directly to Q2.
In the qualifying for the pole position, Danilo went out with the rain tires but the track started to dry soon and he immediately returned to the pit. When in the last run it was finally possible to use the slick tires, the rider from Terni managed to set the chrono of 1'32.420 which earns him second row on the starting grid.
Scott instead went straight out with intermediate tires lapping fast in 1'34.682. In the time attack with slick tires, however, the British driver was not able to find the ideal conditions to lower his time that gives him the eleventh position.
11th - Scott Redding
It is a shame because I thought I could do a lot better. I do not know what happened. With the intermediate tires things went well but when I put the slicks I had no grip at all. In the end I had to come back to garage because I felt that it was dangerous to stay on track. I thought I could do well, as it had happened at Sachsenring, but something went wrong. Tomorrow? Whether it will be a dry race, it will be difficult because we have practically never lapped in dry condition. We will have to work hard in the warm up.
6th - Danilo Petrucci
It has been very though. We saw that in Q1 many riders have lapped with rain tires. I got on the track with this choice and this has allowed me to follow Marquez and see that he had intermediate tires when he was returning to the pits. Imagining that he would put the slicks, I did two laps more to get familiar with the track before entering the pit. Then, with slick tires, the feeling with the bike was good. It is hard to say what to expect for tomorrow. We’ll need to work a lot on the set up. It will depend very much on the weather.
Yonny Hernández washes out of wet Q2 contention
Pull&Bear Aspar rider on course for Q2 qualification until hitting a wet patch and crashing; team-mate Eugene Laverty qualifies one place ahead of Hernández in sixteenth
The MotoGP riders were afforded an extra fifteen minutes of free practice today after yesterday's washout at Phillip Island, although the conditions were little better for an FP3 session that saw Valentino Rossi, Jorge Lorenzo and Maverick Viñales all miss out on direct qualification for Q2. As Marc Márquez claimed his 65th career pole position ahead of Cal Crutchlow and Pol Espargaró, the fight for the runner-up spot in the championship sees Rossi and Viñales start from the fifth row of the grid, just behind Lorenzo. Warm-up for the MotoGP class tomorrow has been extended form the usual twenty minutes to half an hour, which will be crucial to prepare for whatever conditions await.
Pull&Bear Aspar Team rider Yonny Hernández was just a couple of corners away from a place in Q2 and the opportunity to fight for a place on the top four rows. The Colombian came through the third sector of his final lap with almost a second of advantage over the second-placed rider at that point. However, a crash after hitting a damp patch in turn ten means that he has to settle for seventeenth place on the grid, the same position he finished free practice this morning. Eugene Laverty was thirteenth fastest this morning, just four tenths shy of the top ten and direct qualification for this afternoon's Q2. However, against the likes of Jorge Lorenzo, Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales in Q1 his best lap was only good enough for sixteenth position on the grid. Laverty is hoping for more stable conditions and a strong race tomorrow.
16th Eugene Laverty 1.41.532: “Today we were close on a few occasions but it's like that when the conditions are changing all the time. In FP3 we were just four tenths off qualifying directly for Q2 but we had to do Q1 in the end and again it was pretty close. So I'm disappointed to be sixteenth but on a day like today it's all about timing and I wasn't in the right place at the right time with the right tyre. It makes things interesting when the conditions are wet-dry-wet-dry but hopefully tomorrow will be more stable. If it is dry tomorrow then the guys who were in Q2 will be at an advantage because they have had fifteen minutes of relatively dry track time, whereas at the moment we would be going in blind. The warm-up should be dry, according to the forecast, so we'll know where we are then. It's been a crazy weekend and to have a dry race at the end of it would be bizarre.”
17th Yonny Hernández 1.41.766: “In these conditions we had a good opportunity to put on a show. I tried to pick the right moment to change bikes and go out on intermediates. I pushed hard until the end, waiting to follow Viñales and then seeing that I could even go faster and pass him. I lost a little time but I knew I was improving until I hit a little patch of damp in turn ten and lost the front. It is a shame because I was on a lap that would have put me through to Q2 but in any case my feeling is good.”