MotoGP riders call for earlier Phillip Island start time

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MotoGP riders call for earlier Phillip Island start time
Andrew van Leeuwen
By: Andrew van Leeuwen
Oct 21, 2017, 2:26 PM

MotoGP’s top riders have called for the start time of the Australian Grand Prix to be brought forward by an hour from next year onwards.

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team
Jack Miller, Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS
Pole sitter Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team
Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team
Maverick Viñales, Yamaha Factory Racing
Maverick Viñales, Yamaha Factory Racing
Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing
Valentino Rossi, Yamaha Factory Racing

Riders are campaigning for the race start to be moved from its traditional 4pm local time slot, with calls for it to start no later than 3pm in the future.

The concern is plummeting track temperatures, with the fickle Phillip Island weather often resulting in a drop in ambient and track temp not long after a 4pm start.

According to Marc Marquez, work is underway to have the race start an hour earlier.

“It’s something that already we discussed last year,” said Marc Marquez. “For us, for all the riders, it’s better to start minimum at 3pm. 

"Because every year from 4pm to 5pm we have the same problem – it’s dropping a lot, the temperature. Three is different. We hope for the future to change to three, a little bit earlier.”

Maverick Vinales echoed Marquez’s thoughts, adding: “We discussed it yesterday, finally all the riders agree.

“Especially for the last laps of the race when the temperature goes down, for the safety it’s better to do the race at three for sure.”

Rossi confirmed that the idea of shifting the start time for 2018 onwards had been formally discussed at the rider’s safety commission on Friday.

“It’s a common topic here,” he said. “We spoke about it yesterday in the safety commission.

“The problem with racing so late, is that the risks increase – especially if it rains, because the track temperature goes down so much.

“For this year it’s impossible to move, but we’re going to try and move it one hour earlier for next year and for the future. One hour can make a big difference.”

The 4pm race start has been used by Australian Grand Prix organisers since 2008, when the start time was moved back an hour.

Shifting it back to the pre-2008 time will make the race start slightly less comfortable for MotoGP's core European audience, with 3pm equating to 5am in the UK and 6am in Central Europe.

Additional reporting by Oriol Puigdemont

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