Lorenzo on top on Friday in Australia despite crash in incident packed session

The MotoGP™ FP2 session at Phillip Island saw Jorge Lorenzo set the pace on the first day of the Tissot Australian Grand Prix despite a crash in a session which saw several front end spills. Aleix Espargaro and Marc Marquez joined Lorenzo at towards the head of the combined timesheet.

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Lorenzo is the form rider in the premier class at present and he ended the day on top by 0.147s from his compatriot Espargaro despite a crash after losing the front end late in FP2.

The morning’s fastest Espargaro (NGM Forward Racing) ended the day second overall courtesy of his FP1 best.

The pressure is off Marquez this weekend after he secured the 2014 title on Sunday at Motegi but the Repsol Honda star was the rider to get closest to Lorenzo in FP2, though he was behind Espargaro on combined times in third overall.

Iannone (Pramac Racing) was 0.2s down on Lorenzo in fourth, but he too suffered a late crash in the afternoon.

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) both finished the day inside the top six.

Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team), Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech3), Yonny Hernandez (Energy T.I. Pramac Racing) and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) completed the day’s top ten.

Dovizioso (Ducati Team) fell at Turn 1 early in FP2, he was frustrated but otherwise OK. Hiroshi Aoyama (Drive M7 Aspar) and Pol Espargaro also both fell in similar incidents, losing the front.

Also on Friday three of Australia’s greatest ever Grand Prix motorcycle racing stars were honoured by the Australian Grand Prix Corporation.

Former premier class World Champions Wayne Gardner, Mick Doohan and Casey Stoner all won the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island and the achievements of all three were commemorated in bronze sculptures by Melbourne artist Barbara McLean, unveiled on Friday at the track, with the three riders each in attendance.

MotoGP Combined Friday Practice Times Phillip Island MotoGP 2014
MotoGP Combined Friday Practice Times Phillip Island MotoGP 2014

 

Jorge Lorenzo - 1st / 1'29.602 / 14 laps - “I didn’t expect the crash because I was braking more or less at the same point with similar pressure as the previous laps but suddenly, without any warning, the front tyre closed. Within one tenth of a second I was in the gravel. It was quite a violent crash, but luckily it wasn’t so hard that I got injured. My leathers are completely destroyed, but I am ok, which is the most important thing. I think the asymmetrical front tyre was too hard for these cold conditions. These things happen and you just have to learn from it. Now we have to choose between another 31 or another asymmetrical. It’s a critical decision because tomorrow if it’s hotter, the asymmetrical tyres might be the better option.”
Jorge Lorenzo – 1st / 1’29.602 / 14 laps – “I didn’t expect the crash because I was braking more or less at the same point with similar pressure as the previous laps but suddenly, without any warning, the front tyre closed. Within one tenth of a second I was in the gravel. It was quite a violent crash, but luckily it wasn’t so hard that I got injured. My leathers are completely destroyed, but I am ok, which is the most important thing. I think the asymmetrical front tyre was too hard for these cold conditions. These things happen and you just have to learn from it. Now we have to choose between another 31 or another asymmetrical. It’s a critical decision because tomorrow if it’s hotter, the asymmetrical tyres might be the better option.”
Aleix Espargaro second quickest on opening day at Phillip Island
Aleix Espargaro second quickest on opening day at Phillip Island
Marc Marquez - 3rd - 1’29.752 - “Today we focused on working with the new tyres that Bridgestone have brought for this circuit, which are totally different from what we have used for the rest of the year. This is also a circuit that requires a very exact setup, because it has some very fast corners. In the afternoon practice session we took a step forward and I felt much better on the bike, but I think we have to keep working because there are still things that we can improve. However, the feeling is very good and I think it has been a positive day.”
Marc Marquez – 3rd – 1’29.752 – “Today we focused on working with the new tyres that Bridgestone have brought for this circuit, which are totally different from what we have used for the rest of the year. This is also a circuit that requires a very exact setup, because it has some very fast corners. In the afternoon practice session we took a step forward and I felt much better on the bike, but I think we have to keep working because there are still things that we can improve. However, the feeling is very good and I think it has been a positive day.”
Valentino Rossi - 6th / 1'29.954 / 20 laps - “I was supposed to try the asymmetrical front tyres but Jorge crashed at the exact moment that we put the front tyre on the bike, so we decided to wait and see whether he crashed because of a problem with the tyre and we decided to continue with the softer tyre instead. It depends on the weather, but I feel very good with softer tyre so I hope it will be strong enough to last for the whole race. Tomorrow we will also try the asymmetrical tyres. I am happy with Bridgestone’s work, because the tyres have more resistance and it feels a lot less scary on the bike. We lost a bit of grip, but that’s normal. The track also has a lot less grip compared to last year, because last year the asphalt was brand new and now it’s been used. It’s natural. In Phillip Island you always slide and spin, but it’s good fun!”
Valentino Rossi – 6th / 1’29.954 / 20 laps – “I was supposed to try the asymmetrical front tyres but Jorge crashed at the exact moment that we put the front tyre on the bike, so we decided to wait and see whether he crashed because of a problem with the tyre and we decided to continue with the softer tyre instead. It depends on the weather, but I feel very good with softer tyre so I hope it will be strong enough to last for the whole race. Tomorrow we will also try the asymmetrical tyres. I am happy with Bridgestone’s work, because the tyres have more resistance and it feels a lot less scary on the bike. We lost a bit of grip, but that’s normal. The track also has a lot less grip compared to last year, because last year the asphalt was brand new and now it’s been used. It’s natural. In Phillip Island you always slide and spin, but it’s good fun!”

Moto2: Relentless Rabat quickest on opening day on the Island

After the first day of Moto2™ practice at the Tissot Australian Grand Prix, the fastest rider was Tito Rabat, followed by Sandro Cortese and Thomas Luthi.

FP2 saw Rabat (Marc VDS Racing Team) go faster than the best FP1 times, putting in a 1’33.057s. He did so towards the end of a trademark long run. Rabat’s time was 0.598s faster than Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP).

Luthi (Interwetten Sitag) meanwhile, was 0.624s behind Rabat in third, with all three improving their FP1 times.

Jordi Torres (Mapfre Aspar Team) and Mika Kallio (Marc VDS Racing Team) rounded out the top five on combined times. The top five were within just over 0.7s of Rabat.

Maverick Viñales (Paginas Amarillas HP 40), Julian Simon (Italtrans Racing Team), Jonas Folger (AGR Team), Mattia Pasini (NGM Forward Racing) and Sam Lowes (Speed Up) completed the top ten on the opening day.

Robin Mulhauser (Technomag CarXpert) suffered a fast fall, causing a lot of damage to his Suter. Lorenzo Baldassarri (Gresini Moto2) and Viñales both took falls, Viñales at Turn 4, whereas Azlan Shah (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) had to be taken to the hospital for a CT scan after sustaining a crash in turn 8. He will be reviewed before FP3 to assess whether he is fit to ride.

Wild card Aiden Wagner (Marc VDS Racing Team) fell and ended his session early and Kallio crashed soon after. All riders were unhurt.

Moto2 Combined Friday Practice Times Phillip Island MotoGP 2014
Moto2 Combined Friday Practice Times Phillip Island MotoGP 2014
After the first day of Moto2™ practice at the Tissot Australian Grand Prix, the fastest rider was Tito Rabat, followed by Sandro Cortese and Thomas Luthi.
After the first day of Moto2™ practice at the Tissot Australian Grand Prix, the fastest rider was Tito Rabat, followed by Sandro Cortese and Thomas Luthi.

Moto3: Kent fastest overall with Miller the pace setter in afternoon practice

As Friday’s Moto3™ Tissot Australian Grand Prix action was wrapped up, Jack Miller was ahead of the pack in FP2, with Efren Vazquez and Juanfran Guevara also in the top three – but Danny Kent was Friday’s fastest rider overall.

Miller’s best time in the afternoon was 1’37.033 putting him 0.032s ahead of Vazquez in the second practice, but Red Bull Husqvarna Ajo rider Kent was top of the combined timesheets thanks to a 1’36.906 from FP1.

Miller (Red Bull KTM Ajo) ended the day second quickest overall followed by Vazquez (SaxoPrint-RTG), Guevara (Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3) and Brad Binder (Ambrogio Racing) in the top five.

Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0), Jakub Kornfeil (Calvo Team), Niklas Ajo (Avant Tecno Husqvarna Ajo), Alex Rins (Estrella Galicia 0,0) and Isaac Viñales (Calvo Team) all featured in Friday’s top ten on the combined timesheet.

John McPhee (Saxoprint RTG) and Matteo Ferrari (San Carlo Team Italia) both had early highsides in FP2 and Grabriel Ramos (Kiefer Racing) and Alexis Masbou (Ongetta-Rivacold) both suffered crashes mid session.

Jules Danilo (Ambrogio Racing) also fell, along with Karel Hanika (Red Bull KTM Ajo) ending their sessions early. Viñales fell on the final lap.

Moto3 Combined Friday Practice Times Phillip Island MotoGP 2014
Moto3 Combined Friday Practice Times Phillip Island MotoGP 2014
As Friday’s Moto3™ Tissot Australian Grand Prix action was wrapped up, Jack Miller was ahead of the pack in FP2, with Efren Vazquez and Juanfran Guevara also in the top three – but Danny Kent was Friday’s fastest rider overall.
As Friday’s Moto3™ Tissot Australian Grand Prix action was wrapped up, Jack Miller was ahead of the pack in FP2, with Efren Vazquez and Juanfran Guevara also in the top three – but Danny Kent was Friday’s fastest rider overall.

Yamaha Report

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi were back on track at the Phillip Island circuit today for the first free practice sessions of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.

Still thrilled to have won the two previous Grand Prix, Lorenzo was quick to find the pace around the Phillip Island circuit. Riding in the cold and windy conditions, the Spaniard was able to hold second position for most of the morning session, finishing just 0.160s from the front runner.

Lorenzo continued his form in the afternoon session when he posted a 1’29.602 on his fourth lap and held on to the lead for the rest of the 2nd Free Practice session. The Spaniard spent what was left of the session testing the asymmetrical tyre. He suffered a fall at turn four, but was able to walk away unharmed.

Teammate Rossi also came out fighting as he briefly topped the first Free Practice session with his first flying lap. Throughout the session he bettered his time by almost 1,7 seconds to a 1’30.051 lap.

In the afternoon the nine-time World Champion further improved his times and dropped under the 1’30 mark with a 1’29.954 lap, just 0.352 behind his teammate.

The results put Lorenzo in first place in the combined times and Rossi in sixth.

Jorge Lorenzo – 1st / 1’29.602 / 14 laps – “I didn’t expect the crash because I was braking more or less at the same point with similar pressure as the previous laps but suddenly, without any warning, the front tyre closed. Within one tenth of a second I was in the gravel. It was quite a violent crash, but luckily it wasn’t so hard that I got injured. My leathers are completely destroyed, but I am ok, which is the most important thing. I think the asymmetrical front tyre was too hard for these cold conditions. These things happen and you just have to learn from it. Now we have to choose between another 31 or another asymmetrical. It’s a critical decision because tomorrow if it’s hotter, the asymmetrical tyres might be the better option.”

Valentino Rossi – 6th / 1’29.954 / 20 laps – “I was supposed to try the asymmetrical front tyres but Jorge crashed at the exact moment that we put the front tyre on the bike, so we decided to wait and see whether he crashed because of a problem with the tyre and we decided to continue with the softer tyre instead. It depends on the weather, but I feel very good with softer tyre so I hope it will be strong enough to last for the whole race. Tomorrow we will also try the asymmetrical tyres. I am happy with Bridgestone’s work, because the tyres have more resistance and it feels a lot less scary on the bike. We lost a bit of grip, but that’s normal. The track also has a lot less grip compared to last year, because last year the asphalt was brand new and now it’s been used. It’s natural. In Phillip Island you always slide and spin, but it’s good fun!”

Massimo Meregalli – “Today we had a very positive start in the first two practice sessions. We are in a good position because this track suits the Yamaha M1 well. Right away both Jorge and Valentino found a good base set up in the morning session and had a good pace. The feeling of the riders has been great and they seem confident with the set up and the extra soft front tyres, which is important. During the afternoon session Jorge tested the special asymmetrical front tyres. Despite his crash it looks like the bike is working well on those tyres too. We’re very satisfied with today’s results but we’ll keep working hard for the rest of the weekend to get the best possible results.”

Repsol HRC Report

Recently crowned 2014 Champion Marc Marquez, and his Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa were back on track today at the Phillip Island circuit in Australia, with Repsol Honda’s 2011 World Champion Casey Stoner watching on with his family from inside the garage.

Sunny blue skies welcomed the riders but temperatures remained fresh with an ambient temperature of just 15ºC and track at 35ºC. It was an important test for the tyres after a difficult race weekend in 2013 which resulted in race direction adding a mandatory pit stop to change tyres during the race. The factory riders attended a tyre test in March this year – except Marc who was injured – so there was anticipation to see how the new Bridgestone tyres would perform.

These tyres will demand a lot of setup work, as this is the first time they have been provided this season. However, the times are very close with just 0.711 seconds separating the top eleven riders. Marc finished third for the day in the combined times with a lap of 1’29.752 (lap 4/19) in this afternoon’s FP2 session. Dani finished 10th for the day with his time of 1’30.289 (lap 16/23) commenting that the rear tyre which he tested in March here feels totally different now, 7 months later.

Marc Marquez – 3rd – 1’29.752 – “Today we focused on working with the new tyres that Bridgestone have brought for this circuit, which are totally different from what we have used for the rest of the year. This is also a circuit that requires a very exact setup, because it has some very fast corners. In the afternoon practice session we took a step forward and I felt much better on the bike, but I think we have to keep working because there are still things that we can improve. However, the feeling is very good and I think it has been a positive day.”

Dani Pedrosa – 10th – 1’30.289 – “Today didn’t go entirely well for us. It was difficult to find grip with the new compounds that Bridgestone have given us and we struggled especially with the rear. Tomorrow we have to work to the maximum on the setup to see if we can make better use of this tyre and move up positions on the timesheets.”

Ducati Report

Ducati Team riders Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow took fifth and seventh place respectively at the end of the first day of free practice action for Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island.

Despite blue skies and bright sunshine, air temperature today only hovered around a lowly 15°C and together with a light sea breeze, this meant that all the riders who took to the track had problems with grip.

There were a number of crashes in the second session in particular, luckily without any consequences for the riders involved, and Andrea Dovizioso was one of those, when he crashed out at Turn 11 after losing the front of his Desmosedici GP14.2.

Twelve riders are separated by one second in the combined standings, with the two Ducati Pramac Racing Team men, Andrea Iannone and Yonny Hernandez, in fourth and ninth place respectively.

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 5th (1’29.945) – “For the moment I don’t have much of a feeling with my bike, but the track conditions today were a bit strange and there wasn’t really much grip. Many riders, me included at Turn 11, crashed when we lost the front because today the air temperature was rather cold and the right side of the tyre did not reach the correct temperature. It’s also very difficult to control the rear tyre and I don’t know if tomorrow, even if the temperature goes up, the situation will be much better. In the end I managed to set a good time, but for sure we’re going to have to do some more work to improve the feeling with the bike.”

Cal Crutchlow (Ducati Team #35) – 7th (1’30.076) – “It wasn’t too bad a day for us and I’m quite pleased. I believe we have not such a bad pace but the times are very close between a lot of the riders here. I was disappointed with the last run because I got held up for most of the laps and then didn’t better my time as much as possible. But I look forward to making some progress tomorrow and hopefully having a good qualifying session. Today I also used the asymmetric tyre but with the wind chill factor at the moment the left hand side is not building up enough heat.”

Gresini Honda Report 

Team GO&FUN Honda Gresini riders Alvaro Bautista and Scott Redding experienced a difficult start to preparations for Sunday’s Australian MotoGP round today at Phillip Island. In pretty warm and sunny conditions, the Spaniard and the Briton found both free practice sessions a tough challenge while they worked hard to find confidence with their bikes.

Already struggling with rear grip in recent races, Alvaro Bautista struggled even more today to make the tyres available this weekend – featuring a harder compound – work. Therefore the Spaniard closed the combined classification of the two sessions back in 15th position, with a time of 1’31”137, obtained in the afternoon.

His teammate Scott Redding completed the first day two positions behind him in 17th place with a time of 1’31”174, set in the morning session. The British rookie failed to improve in the afternoon, also due to lack off traction and front end confidence in the fast corners.

Alvaro Bautista – (15th – 1’31″137) – “We already had rear grip issues in other tracks, and we knew that here, with an even harder compound, the situation would be even worst. I really don’t feel the rear tyre so I can’t open the throttle and I can’t be quick on corner entry. This is frustrating, because it means that I can’t ride. Today was difficult to do it without crashing”.

Scott Redding (17th – 1’31″174) – “Today it was quite difficult, we felt like we already reached the limit with the bike, and it was really strange because it was hard to do faster lap times. Also, we had again some problems with traction, and a lack of front feeling in the fast corners. We are working to find a good setting for tomorrow: if we will have a little bit more consistency through the four sectors of the track, we can be closer to the other Open Class Honda guys. Today, instead, we were inconsistent and in addition there were many yellow flags out there when I was riding, and this was a little bit confusing. Anyway we have to focus on tomorrow to find the right set-up”.

Bridgestone Report
Front: Extra-soft & Soft (Symmetric) & Soft (Asymmetric). Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main), Hard (Alternative)
Weather:   FP1 – Dry. Ambient 14-14°C; Track 29-33°C (Bridgestone measurement)
FP2 – Dry. Ambient 15-15°C; Track 39-40°C (Bridgestone measurement)

Jorge Lorenzo’s run of fine form continued on the opening day of the Australian Grand Prix as the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider was quickest overall in Friday practice at Phillip Island, his best lap time of 1’29.602 seeing him end the day 0.147 seconds clear of NGM Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro on combined times.

Lorenzo set the quickest lap time of the day in his first stint in the afternoon Free Practice 2 session using the combination of the medium compound rear slick and extra-soft compound front slick to head a tightly-packed field in which the top ten riders were split by just 0.7 seconds by the end of the day. Aleix Espargaro’s personal best lap time of 1’29.752 was set in the morning Free Practice 1 session, and this impressive lap time was still good enough to see him complete the first day as the second fastest rider. Third quickest today was Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez with a personal best lap time of 1’29.752, just 0.150 seconds behind Lorenzo.

Conditions on the first day of practice at Phillip Island were sunny, yet a cool breeze kept track temperatures to a moderate level with a peak track temperature recording of 40°C at the start of FP2. With the unbalanced track layout and cool breeze being a known hazard at the Phillip Island circuit, for the morning FP1 session the riders almost exclusively used the extra-soft front slick in combination with the softer rear slick options; medium compound for the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders and soft compound for the Ducati and Open-class riders. The warmer temperatures in the afternoon saw a more diverse choice of front slicks being used with the symmetric and asymmetric soft compound front slicks being used, along with the extra-soft front. Rear tyre choice in the afternoon still saw a strong preference for the softer rear slicks, although some riders also evaluated the harder option rear slicks in FP2.

Warmer temperatures are forecast for tomorrow, with the next MotoGP™ session being Free Practice 3 at 1055 local time (GMT +11)

Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department – “Today was the first chance for riders to try our new tyre specifications for Phillip Island and despite a few incidents during the day, the results were positive with strong, consistent performance and good durability. However, as we saw the challenging layout and temperature conditions at Phillip Island still caught some riders out. All six of our slick tyre options we brought this weekend were evaluated today, so the teams and riders now have a good amount of data to work with for tomorrow’s qualifying sessions and race simulations. An encouraging outcome for us today was the feedback we received on our brand new soft compound asymmetric front slick. The riders reported that the braking performance of this option was the same as our conventional, symmetric soft front slick but with better grip and warm-up performance in cool conditions which was our development target for this tyre. The top twelve riders were split by just one second on combined times today which shows our new tyre specifications are working well for all manufacturers, and I hope that this trend of close racing continues for the rest of the weekend.”