Marc Marquez leads crash filled final day in Australia
Maverick Viñales fastest overall
The final morning of testing at Phillip Island got off to the best start of the three-day test with clear conditions allowing riders to immediately get out on track. Although clouds loomed in the distance, the top seven riders were able to get below the 1m30s barrier within just a handful of laps. Loris Baz saw one of the biggest improvements, the Avintia Racing rider’s early time already half a second faster than his best from Thursday.
As riders pushed harder and harder to improve their times a number of falls occurred. Tito Rabat was the first, the MotoGP rookie falling at the incredibly fast Turn 1 before being taken to the medical centre for checks on his left wrist. No injuries were reported for Rabat, but in the meantime his Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS teammate, Jack Miller, suffered a fall at Turn 6 with Thursday leader, Maverick Viñales unfortunately following soon after. Both were unharmed, but Viñales’ Team Suzuki Ecstar GSX-RR sustained heavy damage. There was also a fall at Turn 2 from Pol Espargaro, the Spaniard was unharmed and was the fourth fall in the first two hours of the day.
Difficulties continued for the Suzuki team as Aleix Espargaro also fell at Turn 6 and although he was unharmed, rain soon set in on the circuit and limited his track time again. The weather caused a delay of over two hours to proceedings with Scott Redding the first rider to head out as the track began to dry, the Brit returning to the pits immediately. With just a few hours of the final day of testing in Australia remaining, the circuit was suitable for action once more.
Yet more falls followed as Tito Rabat had his second crash of the day, this time at Turn 4. Again he was uninjured.Aleix Espargaro also had a second crash at Turn 4, with Bradley Smith sliding off at the tight corner and reporting some discomfort in his shoulder after. Turn 4 continued to claim victims throughout the afternoon with LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow coming off.
Late in the day there was a brief red flag as Danilo Petrucci crashed at Turn 8, the Italian heading to the medical centre with right wrist pain. The Italian was later diagnosed with multiple fractures in his right hand.
Francesco Guidotti – Pramac Team Manager
“It was not an easy test. The weather conditions did not help us working on set up and Danilo’s accident is too big a price to pay. It’s never the right time to fall and hurt but surely this is a particularly sensitive time. It is frustrating, we know. But we must look to the future with strength and determination. We have to focus on the Danilo’s recovery, the whole team is with him. We are confident that he will recover soon: the hope is that he will be on track for the GP in Qatar but now is too early to tell.”
Fellow Ducati rider Eugene Laverty crashed with 45 minutes remaining, the Aspar MotoGP Team man avoiding any serious injuries having only just returned to full fitness after his Sepang crash.
With just over half an hour remaining, Jorge Lorenzo suffered a fall at Turn 10, suffering no major injuries and walking back to the pits. Marc Marquez also suffered a fall without consequence in the final minutes of the test.
Leading the timesheets on Friday was Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez who was 0.141s clear of overall leader Maverick Viñales.
A late charge put Cal Crutchlow third in the dying minutes of the test.
One of the most impressive results of the day came from Hector Barbera in fourth with a 1’29.361s, he and his teammate Baz, in sixth, were split by Valentino Rossi.
In seventh, Dani Pedrosa made steady improvements throughout the day to end ahead of Pol Espargaro and Jorge Lorenzo, Andrea Dovizioso rounded out the top ten on Friday and was 0.702s back on Marquez’s best time.
Thanks to his stunning 1’29.131 on Thursday, Maverick Viñales leaves the test as the overall fastest rider ahead of Marc Marquez.
“First of all I must say I’m ok after the crash this morning: I went out with a new tyre but probably the temperature was still too cold and I lost the front, but I didn’t suffer any injuries. Today has been another positive day, although I couldn’t improve my lap time, but we are aware of the reason why this happened. We focused on testing different configurations of the new chassis and this took us some time; maybe if I continued with the previous one I could have done a better time but it is important for us to us to work with a long term vision and exploit the tests for what they are. The development of the machine for the season is still a long way off and we still have much potential that we need to investigate.
“For sure I’m happy in how this test went overall, we made solid progress both in the single lap performance and for the consistency, even though the variable weather didn’t allow us to really test a race simulation. For Qatar it will be important to further investigate the electronics; it is still a field where we miss experience as it’s completely new, but we have already done much work for this and collected a good amount of data, which will be useful for us. Of course ending a test at the top is a good feeling that makes you comfortable for the future, but we must keep our feet on the ground and stay focused on the development plan we have set.”
“Overall, these three days have been very good. I’m especially happy with today, because we have taken a big step forward. In the afternoon I managed to maintain a consistently fast pace, and this was the first time this preseason that I’ve started to feel good with the bike and the new tyres. It’s a pity that at the end of the session when we wanted to try something else, it was too late. I was pushing hard at the same time, I lost the front and crashed. The important thing is that I was unhurt and the work we’ve done has been positive. Yesterday we focused on adjusting the electronics and finding a good base, and today I think we did a good job looking for balance in the setup of the bike.”
With less than 18 minutes to go on the final day, LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow set the third fastest time of the test.
“Today was a lot better, despite the fact that we had a small crash in turn four – as did a lot of people. I’ve felt really happy to be riding the LCR Honda this week, the bike was good and we were pleasantly surprised with the package together with the Michelin tyres and the new electronics. We didn’t have the new engine here unfortunately but it means we have something to look forward to in Qatar. We definitely worked very well as a team this week, which is one of the main things when you come away for three days. The important thing is that we leave here with a lot of information, both electronically and chassis-wise, so we’ll take it all to Qatar and look forward to that test.”
Despite a difficult third day, Lorenzo leaves Australia as the fourth fastest rider just 0.004s ahead of Hector Barbera who proved that the GP14.2 is still competitive despite being several generations behind the factory bikes.
“We didn’t have a lot of time to test in the morning and I did the lap time I set this morning on a rear tyre that already had done 24 laps. I’ve been riding with old tyres all day because we only had one more new tyre. When we finally got a dry track and time to try that last new rear tyre to set a decent lap time, Laverty crashed and I had to cancel that lap. I then decided to try a race simulation, but I crashed on the first lap because the track was very cold. There were a lot of crashes during this time of the day. I was very dedicated and braked a little bit too hard for the grip of the front tyre and I crashed, so I ended the test and I’m going home. Sepang, for us, has been an unbelievable test. Here things changed completely because the lay-out of the track is the opposite. Let’s see what happens in Qatar.”
“One more test and we finished really happy. Before lunch time the test was interrupted by the rain and I thought it was finished, but we could finally get back on track and I’m very happy as I was able to do many laps in 29 and I also managed to improve my lap times in the final minutes with a 1’29.3 lap, and that’s almost one second faster than last year race. It’s also encouraging to be in the top five during the day, and gives me great motivation. The team did a really good job and I want to say big thank you, because they always give their 110%. We are in a good momentum and we have to carry it on and take profit of all the information gained during this test. We are looking forward for the next test, as it will be really important before the first race at Qatar. The winter test has been great so far, but I still realistic. I don’t want to put pressure on me, mi war will be to be every race between the fifth and tenth place, and everything more than this will be a gift for us.”
Rossi’ s 1’29.404 from Thursday sees him end the test in sixth, continuing the strong form the factory Yamaha team have shown in recent tests.
“Unfortunately also today the conditions were not fantastic. In the end we only had one good day and that was yesterday, but it’s better than nothing. Today we continued our job for a bit, especially we compared the two different bikes and I think we will use the bike that’s more similar to last year’s model. It was a positive test, especially yesterday, but also today. I feel good with the bike and with the tyres and my pace was not so bad, so I’m quite satisfied.”
The second fastest Ducati at the end of the Phillip Island test was Loris Baz on the Avintia Ducati, a new seat unit allowing him to get comfortable on the bike and end the test seventh overall.
“To be honest I can only be happy after these days at Phillip Island. Yesterday we focussed in my riding position and today we started to work in the bike set up. Step by step I build my confidence and in the morning I did two really fast laps behind Maverick, and I was able to see many interesting things. The in the afternoon I was riding alone and I was very strong, so I’m really happy. We have been third during a big part of the day, and together with Hector, the first and second Ducati. At the end of the session several riders improved their lap times, but we did a good job. I did two long runs at the end and I almost equal my best lap time of 29.5, and this time riding alone. So, although we didn’t improved, to be so fast by my own and with less track temperature was very positive. My confidence with the bike is growing everyday and I’m close to know the limits. To finish the test so close to the first and with such a good pace is something incredible. But we have to keep working because it seems this years everything will be very tight.”
Dani Pedrosa ends the three days with a best time of 1’29.606, 0.023s back on Baz.
“Today it’s been a bit difficult. In the morning it was hard to improve on the setup we found yesterday morning and lower our times. We rode on used tyres all day to see how the bike behaved after a lot of laps. In the afternoon, after the rain fell, we improved a bit in some places, but I think we still have some work to do. The positive thing is that since the test in Malaysia we have improved with the electronics, and we hope to take an important step forward in the setup of the bike at the Qatar test, especially with the new compound for the front tyre that will be brought there for us.”
Rounding out the top ten on combined times, Pol Espargaro and Andrea Iannone both completed significant distance on their machines over the three days.
“Altogether, I’m pleased with how the test went. Of course, we hoped for better weather here in Australia, but considering that the forecast for today was even worse than it actually was, we have to be happy with what we achieved. We were able to try a lot of things and to be honest I’m very satisfied with the rhythm that we managed to run. Also, my fastest lap time was decent so after the difficult test that we had in Sepang, we are now back to where we want and need to be. For sure, it goes without saying that we still need to collect a lot of information so that we can fine tune the electronics in a better way as it is still quite new to us, but I believe we are already working in a good direction. Also our tyre knowledge is very limited at the moment and especially today when the track temperature was colder, you could see that everybody was struggling a bit more. Yet, we will have to face these conditions in the season, so there are still many things to learn. The only inconvenience of today was my crash. When I left the pit box, I didn’t feel confident with the tyres so I came back in and we decided to use another set. As a result, I was still checking the behaviour of the bike when Jorge passed me. I believe he put four seconds between us, but then closed the gas in the first corner, so by corner two I was already with him and had to take a wider line to give him enough space and as soon as I touched the brake on the dirty part of the track, I lost the bike. It’s a pity, but I’m fine and the team did a great job to repair the bike so that we could still take good advantage of the day and now I can leave Australia feeling much more confident than I was a few days ago.”
“In the end these tests at Phillip Island have been positive because we were able to test at length and understand the differences between the new Desmosedici GP and the GP15. This is a very important aspect because we were also able to find the direction to take in order to fine-tune all the details. Even though I am not entirely satisfied with my final position, I am pleased with the work that we have done and the steps forward we managed to make. We still have to improve however and we expect more, so the next tests in Qatar will be really important.”
Iannone was closely followed by Ducati Team teammate Andrea Dovizioso with Octo Pramac Yakhnich’s Scott Redding just behind.
“I am very happy again today because, even though we were unable to make use of all the time available, we did manage to carry out some important tests. It was actually easy for us to be quite fast, even though we’re still missing a couple of tenths of a second to get up to the top at the end of the day. However I am happy with my race pace because I have a good feeling with my bike, and going away from Phillip Island with this feeling was my aim, especially in view of the fact that this is a track where I have always struggled a bit. The aim now is to make a further step forward in Qatar in order to be ready for the race and be protagonists like last year.”
“These three days have been positive although it was difficult to find consistency due to the particular weather conditions. Today it would be difficult to set a good laptime because I had only a few hard tires to fit and every time I tried the soft I did not feel confident on the front. However, we have improved traction and this was an important goal. The feelings are good and I’m looking forward to being in Qatar. I want to wish Danilo a fast recovery. I hope he comes back soon and will be already on track for the first race in Qatar.”
Fellow Brit Bradley Smith leaves Phillip Island in 13th ahead of Wednesday’s leader Danilo Petrucci and Jack Miller, the Australian rounding out the top fifteen on his return from injury.
“We did a good job here in the past three days, although there are obvious signs that we have to do a bit more. I was a bit unlucky today because I did the famous turn 4 crash. This corner was beneficial for me in 2014 in the race when I got my podium but not today unfortunately! The good news is that I don’t have too much pain or any serious injuries and when I remounted, I was able to ride quite comfortably. Aside from this, it was a positive day, although it was a shame about the cold weather and the rain in the middle of the day, which affected our front tyre choice. Yet, we still got through our testing programme so I feel confident enough to say that we have a really solid base setting as we go into the final three days of testing at Qatar. There, we need to reconfirm a few things that we tried here. The Phillip Island track is quite specific and the grip is also high, but Losail is very different and the grip levels are much lower. Therefore, it will be necessary to check everything that we discovered here in Australia. I am happy to say that the electronics are really positive at the moment and the team and I are doing a solid job in understanding that. There are still some areas that we need to work on, specifically with the acceleration, but that’s the same for everyone I think. I am satisfied with what we accomplished here, but we need to push harder next time because 16th is not enough for us and for our sponsors. Having said that, I don’t think the results matter too much at the moment, it’s when the season starts that it counts, so I look forward to carrying on the positive work in Qatar as we inch closer to the first race of the year.”
“It’s been a good test and we’ve managed to get a lot of things out of the way here, so we’re not faced with a massive job in Qatar in two weeks. I think just to feel how it was on the bike here was well worth it and it’s going to be even better in Qatar with an extra two weeks to heal and more physiotherapy, so it’s all good. It’s a shame about the weather, but we still managed to get a heap of laps in and I was stoked to be back on the bike. The lap this afternoon felt comfortable and I didn’t feel like I was taking any risks. The fall this morning was my error; I had a bit of a moment and pushed the pads back in the calipers, but it was only a small one. I’m really happy with the first test of 2016 and I’m looking forward to Qatar.”
Cristian Gabarrini: Chief Engineer – Jack Miller
“We made a lot more progress than we expected here at Phillip Island. We were unsure of Jack’s physical condition following his injury, but in the end he had good endurance, completing more than 50 laps yesterday and almost 40 more today. This was a good test, with Jack setting his fastest time right at the end today, on a tyre that had already done ten laps. Having missed the Sepang test this was Jack’s first time on the latest Michelin tyres and we think we’ve found something here that can help him get the best from them, so we’re really satisfied with the test.”
Tito Rabat ends the test in 16th but within a second of the fastest time while Aleix Espargaro finished a disappointing 17th ahead of Aspar MotoGP Team duo Yonny Hernandez and Eugene Laverty.
“I’ve learnt a lot here at Phillip Island, both in the wet and the dry, so I’m happy about that. I had two crashes today; one big one at turn one and one small one at turn four, but even these had a positive aspect. The fact that I crashed, but was able to get back on the bike and improve again was good for my confidence. Now I understand a little better the Honda RC213V and the Michelin tyres, but there is still a lot of work to be done. For me it is important we make improvements step-by-step, rather than being pushed into trying to run before we can walk and risking the consequences of a big crash. I leave Phillip Island happy and I can’t wait to get back on the bike in Qatar.”
“I am fine, despite the crashes and despite the fact that we couldn’t improve as I wanted to, but my feelings about the improvements are positive. We tried many different things on the bike, in geometry and electronics, but unfortunately my feeling didn’t change so much. This track is very different from the other circuits, it’s really fast and I struggled a lot to feel confident, for example it’s much worse than in Malaysia two weeks ago. Despite this I tried to push as hard as I could, this is also why I crashed twice, but honestly the result is that I want to clear my mind from this test and think ahead to Qatar. I know it’s strange to say because of the timesheets but I honestly really feel that the bike has improved, it is much better than last year for the engine, the seamless, everything actually is performing better. Suzuki did a great job during the winter and what they are delivering to us is a real step forward; I just need to put everything together and find back my competitiveness.”
“The weather has not been on our side over these last three days and overall it has been a frustrating test for us because we have suffered some setbacks that have prevented us from being where we would like to be. Yesterday we established a good feeling, today it wasn’t as easy at the start to get on the pace but we made a step forward that helps us understand the bike more. In Qatar we have another chance to keep working and hopefully we can have everything ready for the start of the season.”
“Like yesterday I continued to build my confidence in the bike today and now we are working through some chassis settings to see how we can make it more suited to my style. I feel that we understand the way for the future but right now we need more performance. I don’t like being this far down the order, that’s for sure, but at least today my body feels better. After yesterday I felt pretty beaten up but today I feel physically much better so hopefully by Qatar I can be fully fit and ready for it.”
MotoGP riders and teams will be back on track on the second of March for their final pre-season test in Qatar.
Phillip Island MotoGP Test – February 2016 – Combined Times
Maverick Vinales Suzuki 1m29.131
Marc Marquez Honda 1m29.158
Cal Crutchlow Honda 1m29.348
Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1m29.357
Hector Barbera Ducati 1m29.361
Valentino Rossi Yamaa 1m29.404
Loris Baz Ducati 1m29.583
Dani Pedrosa Honda 1m29.606
Pol Espargaro Yamaha 1m29.718
Andrea Iannone Ducati 1m29.857
Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 1m29.860
Scott Redding Ducati 1m29.922
Bradley Smith Yamaha 1m29.992
Danilo Petrucci Ducati 1m29.995
Jack Miller Honda 1m30.023
Tito Rabat Honda 1m30.119
Aleix Espargaro Suzuki 1m30.198
Yonny Hernandez Ducati 1m30.492
Eugene Laverty Ducati 1m30.617
Takuya Tsuda Suzuki 1m32.599
Phillip Island MotoGP Test – February 2016 – Day Three Times
Marc Marquez, ESP, Repsol Honda Team, 1’29.158s [Lap 48/64]
Maverick Viñales, ESP, Team Suzuki Ecstar, 1’29.299s, +0.141s [11/39]
Cal Crutchlow, GBR, LCR Honda, 1’29.348s, +0.190s [58/58]
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