It was a bleak scene that greeted the Repsol Honda Team at Phillip Island today as the MotoGP paddock assembled for the first practice session of the Australian Grand Prix weekend. Driving rain and strong winds resulted in a delay of nearly two ...
It was a bleak scene that greeted the Repsol Honda Team at Phillip Island today as the MotoGP paddock assembled for the first practice session of the Australian Grand Prix weekend. Driving rain and strong winds resulted in a delay of nearly two hours as marshals swept standing water from the track, with MotoGP practice eventually getting under way at 15.50 when conditions were finally deemed safe. The air and track temperature at Phillip Island, both at a lowly 10 degrees today, was in chilly contrast the 38 degrees encountered for first practice of the Malaysian Grand Prix one week ago.
Andrea Dovizioso figured towards the top of the timesheets in the early part of the session when the track was fully wet and the 24-year-old Italian gathered some useful data today in spite of the weather. With the forecast predicting a possible repeat of these conditions for qualifying tomorrow and Sunday's race, Dovizioso felt it was worth pushing hard and learning as much as possible. His best lap time of 1m 42.271s was just 1.125s behind today's fastest rider Jorge Lorenzo and was good enough for sixth place, despite being set on only his 14th of 26 laps completed today.
Dani Pedrosa was returning to a MotoGP bike for the first time since he broke his left collarbone in Japan two weeks ago, and he wisely chose a very cautious approach, fully aware that there was more for him to lose in today's treacherous conditions than there was to gain. The 25-year-old Spaniard went out at the beginning of the wet session, staying on track just long enough to test his physical condition, but choosing not to risk riding for any longer than necessary. If the conditions had been dry today, Pedrosa would have stayed out longer, but the Spaniard completed just seven laps at speeds which placed him in the middle of the timesheets at that stage of the session. He will return to the track tomorrow when the Australian Grand Prix continues with another hour of free practice in the morning and qualifying in the afternoon at 13.55... weather permitting.
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO - 6th - 1m 42.271s +1.125s
"It was an interesting session today and it was worth pushing hard because at this circuit we can have this type of conditions for the race, so we need to know what to expect. The problem was that the track conditions changed a lot during the session however. We used wet tyres for the whole time and at the beginning of the session when it was fully wet we were quite fast compared to the other riders. On my second time out of the pits there was almost a dry line all the way round the circuit, but we didn't try slick tyres because the temperature was really low and it would have been risky to ride on slicks before they got up to temperature. So we stayed on wet tyres even though they were very worn by the end of the session. It was very windy and at the end of the straight the bike wheelies a lot so it was an important test of the electronic controls. We still have work to do on the machine settings, but we understand the direction to work in tomorrow and I think we can move forward."
DANI PEDROSA - 16th - 1m 51.210s +10.064s
"The plan today was simply to check my condition on the bike - in these conditions I didn't want to take any unnecessary risks. What I can say is that I had some strength to move on the bike and put pressure on the handlebars which is good. However, I didn't feel very comfortable with the leathers because they were tight and there was pressure - but even with that I could do some laps and tomorrow I will try again - we will go step-by-step. Now it's quite painful but we will see how the pain goes through the night and tomorrow we will take another step. We knew it wouldn't be easy but I just hope that the effort is worth it in the end. To ride in wet conditions is more smooth than in the dry, but also more risky. The asphalt today was very very cold and here it's a problem because on the right hand turns you don't have any grip at all. The hardest point was braking, changing direction and in the right hand corners because I have to stretch my arms a lot - but I hope we can work a little bit on the leathers to make it more comfortable for tomorrow. Afterwards I went to the Clinica Mobile and they told me that now I need to relax the muscles. We'll see how it goes tomorrow."
TOSHIYUKI YAMAJI - REPSOL HONDA TEAM MANAGER
"This was a tricky session for everyone and it was a case of learning as much as possible without taking any undue risks. For Dani that was particularly true, so we decided to simply check that he could ride the bike and get an impression of his physical condition, rather than ride for the whole session. He will try again tomorrow and we'll wait to see how he progresses. Andrea collected some useful information today and has a good base if the conditions stay like this for the weekend. We'll be ready for whatever the weather throws at us."