Jorge Lorenzo is predicting a tough battle in qualifying for this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, warning it is not guaranteed he will start on the front row of the grid.
Owing to tricky conditions on Friday at Phillip Island and the nature of the circuit, there were some less familiar names towards the top of the practice timesheets, with home hero Jack Miller going fifth quickest in FP1 and Maverick Vinales taking an eye-catching third in FP2.
Asked if this meant he was anticipating a tight contest in qualifying, Lorenzo said: “For sure, at this short track, there are a lot of riders who have this softer tyre that will bring them a lot [closer].
“It will be difficult to even stay on the first row, but we will see if we can fight for pole position.”
Lorenzo topped a drizzle-affected opening session by three tenths from Honda’s Marc Marquez, but slipped behind his fellow countryman in FP2, losing out on the top spot by just five hundredths.
But despite losing out to Marquez on taking the fastest time of the day, Lorenzo was content with his pace on both used and new tyres.
“The conditions have been a little bit cold, and the tarmac has less grip and there are bumps in some corners, so it’s difficult to arrive at the lap time from last year,” said the Yamaha rider.
“In general we arrive here with a good set-up from first practice, we improve a little bit in FP2, we have good pace with old tyres and we are fast with new ones.”
Rossi relaxed despite subdued showing
Lorenzo’s title rival and teammate Valentino Rossi had a tougher time on Friday, over six tenths off and going only ninth quickest in FP2, but is relaxed about his race pace.
“The feeling is not so bad because my pace this afternoon was quite good; also with the used tyre I was able to do some good lap times,” said the Italian.
“I was not strong enough on the hot lap with the new tyres, but at the same time we tried the asymmetric [tyre] that everyone is very curious [about] and the feeling is not so bad.
“We have to work a little bit on the bike, but it’s ok. We wait for good conditions tomorrow, and try to work to improve some places and try to be stronger.”