Spaniard leads the way ahead of countrymen Aleix Espargaro and Marc Marquez
Jorge Lorenzo sits on top of the timing sheets following the first day of practice for the Tissot Australian Grand Prix at the Philip Island circuit that got underway under cool and windy conditions. Despite a front end crash in this afternoon’s session while testing new Bridgestone tires, made especially for the Philip Island surface following a mandatory tire change having to introduced in last year’s race, the Movistar Yamaha rider’s best lap of 1m 29.602s was not to be beaten.
I think the asymmetrical front tire was too hard for these cold conditions. I didn’t expect the crash.
Espargaro was fast out of the blocks today and pushed hard on his NGM Forward Racing machine in both session but his best time of 1m 29.749s came in this morning’s session and was more competitive on his Open Class Yamaha due to the more flowing nature of Philip Island’s corners. Marquez was measured in his approach today but he is not letting clinching his second and consecutive MotoGP title get in the way of his quest for more victories and a best lap of 1m 29.752s with just eight laps completed today will give the Repsol Honda rider great confidence.
The ever-improving Andrea Iannone was on the pace immediately today and the Pramac Racing rider’s best lap of 1m 29.803s sees him narrowly ahead of factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso in fifth with his best time of 1m 29.945s with Valentino Rossi close behind in 6th place for the Movistar Yamaha team. Cal Crutchlow finished his first day of practice for the Ducati Team in 7th on a best lap of 1m 30.076s with Pol Espargaro next along for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team while Yonny Hernandez set the 9th best lap of 1m 30.281s for the Energy TI Pramac Racing team and rounding out the top ten is Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa (1m 30.289s).
Lorenzo uncertain about new Bridgestone tires
Speaking afterwards, Lorenzo remained confident in improving on his pace but is uncertain about the predictability of the new asymmetrical Bridgestone tires. He said, “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 tire 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 tire 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.” Lorenzo added.
Espargaro&Marquez happy with day one progress
Espargaro is much more confident in his ability to get a good result on his YZR-M1 stating, “I’m very happy with today’s result. This morning I was able to find a good feeling and to ride fast on this technical track. Compared to Japan, here we don’t have hard acceleration and we can be competitive. In the afternoon I could ride with a very good pace and this is very important for the race. Tomorrow we aim at making another step forward for the qualifying and to continue working in preparation of the race.”
Marquez was happy with his first day in action at the Philip Island track saying, “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.”