Mixed day for MotoGP riders as MotoGP testing gets underway at Phillip Island
Australia’s sole entrant in the 2016 MotoGP World Championship turned a wheel on his machine for the first time this year at Phillip Island today.
Jack Miller missed the Sepang Test sessions last month after suffering lower leg injuries in an off-season motocross accident but the 21-year-old Queenslander managed only six laps today in what was a weather affected first day of testing at the picturesque seaside 4.4km Phillip Island layout.
As is so often the case at Phillip Island, the changeable weather kept riders and teams guessing all day. Rain would soak the track but as riders exited pit lane on wet tyres the sun would come out, the wind would pick up and the track would start to rapidly dry out.
Unfortunately, with the rain returning at regular intervals the track never dried out fully until late in the afternoon, while the showers didn’t last long enough to give the riders the opportunity to test Michelin’s wet tyres on a fully wet track during the morning.
“I’m pretty happy with today, even if the weather meant my time on the bike was limited. We had a heap of new parts to run in on the bike and we managed to get that done during the brief time the track was dry, so it looks good for tomorrow, when I hope the weather will be better.
“The leg was fine today; once I’m on the bike it’s really good. Okay, I can’t use the rear brake as much as I’d like to, but I can work on my riding style to compensate for that. Now we just need some better weather and a lot more laps.”
Miller’s Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VD teammate Tito Rabat got in 29 laps and finished the day 11th quickest.
“We were limited with what we could do today by the weather, but it was still a positive first day. This morning I learnt a lot about how the electronics work in wet conditions, even if the track was never fully wet.
“The dry time was short today and I never really got one good lap, but it was a good opportunity to get the feeling with the rear hard tyre. We need dry track time more than anything, so I hope the Australian weather will be kind to us tomorrow and Friday.”
The quickest rider of the day was Danilo Petrucci on the Octo Pramac Yakhnich team’s Ducati Desmosedici.
Factory Ducati pilot Andrea Iannone completed seven laps on a dry surface in the afternoon, ending the day tenth quickest, while his team-mate Andrea Dovizioso made a couple of exits before coming back into the pit lane and as a result did not record a lap time.
“It was a bit of a strange day: unfortunately the weather didn’t allow us to work the way we had planned and I only managed to do seven laps in the afternoon in the dry with the 2016 Desmosedici GP. We hope that in the next two days we’ll get more track time because we’ve still got lots of things to test. However I’m happy with the positive atmosphere in the team garage and I’m feeling confident about the new bike.”
“Honestly speaking for me today was a wasted day. This morning maybe we could have gone out on track when it was raining heavily, to do a few laps in wet weather set-up, but we preferred to wait a bit.
“However the situation didn’t improve and the track always remained damp. In the afternoon I did a couple of out-in exits with my Desmosedici GP, to allow the engineers to check a few things, but now I’m really hoping the weather is good tomorrow and Friday to give me the chance to put in some track time with the new bike.”
LCR Honda and their British rider Cal Crutchlow was forced to try out the new wet spec Michelin tyres.
The Brit had fairly positive feedback from the rain tyres, working on the 2015-spec factory Honda engine because of the weather situation. He will try the updated version of that engine from tomorrow, when better conditions are predicted.
Crutchlow did manage to squeeze two laps in with the slick tyres when the track briefly dried out, setting the fifth fastest time of the day in the process. However, no sooner had he set his fast lap than the drizzle returned.
“Today was pretty much a wasted day. We waited around a lot, but there wasn’t really much we could do with the weather situation. We kept going out with the rain tyre but then the track would dry up too much.”
“Towards the end we put on the slicks and then it’s started to rain so we didn’t get any real information from the dry tyre at all. Even in the two laps I did I could tell we still have some way to go in terms of the power of the bike and the electronics.”
“We were quite happy with the situation in the rain, but now we need to work very hard overnight and then going into tomorrow we will have a lot of different things to try. Hopefully the weather is better as is forecasted. I love riding this circuit, so it would be good to enjoy a full day’s testing here.”
kicked off at the second Official MotoGP Test in Australia, but mixed conditions allowed for only limited time on the Phillip Island track.
Movistar Yamaha riders Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo used the track time wisely and focused on trying out the Michelin rain tyres and the electronics in damp conditions.
Though the weather was less than ideal, Rossi didn‘t let the opportunity go to waste to test his two Yamahas – the model closer to the 2015 YZR-M1 and the 2016 edition – on a wet track. Despite the brief windows of dry track time he worked diligently throughout the day and set 27 laps in total. Known to be an expert when conditions get tough, he set a fastest time of 1‘33.088s at the end of the session when a sudden dry-spell in the final hour saw him dash to sixth place.
“It‘s very positive to come here to Phillip Island, because we have a lot of different things to try, especially tyres and we know this track is always very demanding for the compound. Unfortunately we expected summer, but it‘s winter. Today the season changed a minimum of ten times, we had to wait a lot and it was quite frustrating because it was important to do some work, but we didn‘t do a lot of laps.
“We were able to do some wet laps and also some dry laps at the end. We hope that tomorrow and Friday the weather will become better. It‘s always difficult to find the right window to use the intermediate tyre, but it can help. In the past, with the slick, it was quite dangerous to go out in half and half conditions.
“I think this year we can use the time more effectively, but here in Phillip Island the feeling with the bike and the tyres changed a lot compared to last year, so we need to work; every track can be different.”
Jorge Lorenzo also had a productive day. He was the first of the teammates to come out of the box and steadily increased his pace as he got acclimatised to his Yamaha on the damp Australian track. He was in sixth place at the end of his two hours on track until rays of sunlight broke through in the afternoon, signaling that it was time for the Spaniard to kick up the pace a notch. He set a 1‘39.825s to take third in the provisional ranking before rain put a halt to the action again. Lorenzo returned to the track for another stint later in the afternoon, completing two laps on a slick tyre in dry conditions to bring his total to 24 laps, but chose to end the session early and completed the day in 16th place.
“It was a very unfortunate day. We are here in the summer and, as we can see in the Superbike race, there‘s usually good weather, but today we‘ve been unlucky. Mixed conditions; not really wet and not really good conditions for riding and there were not many minutes to try in these conditions.
“It was especially important to test the new electronics on the wet to get settled a little bit. I did only two laps on the slicks and had very strange feelings. I‘m really looking forward to see tomorrow, with a complete day of good conditions, how the bike is working with the Michelin tyres.”
Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Maverick Viñales put-in 20 laps aboard his GSX-RR, tried to test a few new things, in particular some electronics set-ups and recorded second on the timesheets.
Viñales and team-mate Aleix Espargaro have been joined at the test by Suzuki Test Team rider Takuya Tsuda, who worked hard yesterday in more consistent conditions to test mostly the new electronics. The objective of the Test Team in Australia is to continue the initial program with the new electronics and also the new seamless gearbox in order to finalise its development so that it can be transferred to the Factory Team riders.
Davide Brivio – Suzuki MotoGP Team Manager
“Unfortunately the weather is totally uncertain and today’s conditions were too hostile to make a proper test. Since the introduction of the new tyres and new electronics all teams desperately need to further investigate the issues and these hard days make us lose many precious chances. However, this morning Maverick could make some laps in the wet which was very helpful for us to verify some things in the electronics and this will help us to find the best direction both tomorrow and for the upcoming season. He also made some laps in dry conditions, even though they were mainly to prepare for tomorrow’s work.
“Aleix, on the contrary, was very unlucky: He wanted to wait for dry conditions in order to lap in good conditions but he could only do a couple of laps before more rain. For him, today was a wasted day, but we hope for better conditions tomorrow and he will probably take advantage also of the information coming from Maverick today. Here in Phillip Island we also have our Test Team which is supposed to bring on crucial work for the development of the machines. I really hope that the weather will get more stable for the next two days as the riders are very keen to ride and all our engineers need data and feedback to work on.”
“Today was very difficult conditions, but we managed to ride some laps and this was positive. We didn’t really test anything specific, we just wanted to verify some set-ups in the electronics, mainly to take some advantages for tomorrow. I feel more confident now than last year, the 2015 season was really helpful for me to grow and also become more focused and sharp when it comes to giving feedback to my engineers and asking for modifications.
“This new electronics are putting all riders under pressure, we still have so many things to learn before we can manage it properly, but this is also something that is renewing the enthusiasm. I spent all the Winter training to get fit, now it’s time to focus on the machine. In Sepang we had some positive improvements which gave me positive feelings, but now I’m really curious to continue the development and get closer to the top.”
“Today was too hard to predict the set-up, the weather conditions were not either fully-wet or dry which prevented us finding a proper direction. Honestly, if rain came seriously I would have been happy to try in full wet as it could have been useful information for the season, when of course we will have some rainy races. But in these variable conditions we preferred not to risk anything and wait for the upcoming days.
“I was curious to test the new intermediate tyres because they will be helpful in some races or qualifying, but of course when conditions are not consistent you can’t control the electronics properly; and then it’s very hard to test the tyres’ performances.”
Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa was the first rider to take to the track this morning, just over an hour into the session, with his teammate Marc Marquez—who celebrated his 23rd birthday today—following immediately afterward. Both riders were aiming to sort out the Michelin wet and intermediate spec tyres, which they had not tested before, and their electronics’ rain settings.
The day allowed a few laps in full-wet conditions, during which the riders received some positive feedback, both from the bike settings and the rain tyres. Marc managed to make one lap on the intermediates spec tyre, with which he set his best time. The track improved slightly toward the end of the session, but there were only few minutes with almost totally dry track and both Repsol Honda riders decided not to go out.
The Repsol Honda riders’ best efforts for the day were 1’35.354 on lap 18 of 20 for Marc on intermediate tyres, and 1’40.138 on lap 15 of 15 for Dani on wet tyres. Testing will continue for two more days.
“This first day in Australia went well, but the weather made things difficult. We tried wet tyres on the first two runs today and I felt quite comfortable, with plenty of rear grip. It was also important to test the electronics in these conditions, because it was the first time we had a chance to use them in the wet, and they worked well.
“I did some laps on the intermediate tyre. Anyway, it’s hard to know when you should use them. It’s a pity because it was difficult to gather data; the conditions were constantly changing between wet and drying out, due to the intermittent rain and wind. At the end of the day it improved a little, but we decided not to go out again because the weather forecast is better for tomorrow.”
“Today it rained almost all day—especially in the morning—and when I saw that the track was completely wet I decided to go out, because at this track you usually don’t have these conditions, due to the strong wind that always dries the asphalt quickly. The feeling was good and it was a positive run, because I did a few laps in these different conditions to test the bike, electronics and tyres at the same time. Everything was different from what we had before, so we have to go step-by-step.
“I would have liked to put in more laps in the wet, but eventually part of the circuit dried out and the track was neither fully dry nor fully wet. Some riders went out on slicks, but it was still raining a little and the conditions weren’t easy, so we preferred to stay in the garage. Instead, we’ll go back out again tomorrow to check everything if the weather improves.”
All the riders will be out on track again tomorrow and Friday hoping for better weather conditions.
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