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Oct 20, 2017

MotoGP: Aleix Espargaro Puts Aprilia On Top In FP2 At Phillip Island

Aleix Espargaro (41).

Michelin Australian Grand Prix

FIM MotoGP World Championship

Phillip Island, Australia

October 20, 2017

Free Practice Two Results (all on using Michelin tires):

1. Aleix ESPARGARO, Spain (APRILIA), 1:29.225

2. Marc MARQUEZ, Spain (HONDA), 1:29.230

3. Andrea DOVIZIOSO, Italy (DUCATI), 1:29.322

4. Cal CRUTCHLOW, UK (HONDA), 1:29.329

5. Maverick VIÑALES, Spain (YAMAHA), 1:29.423

6. Jack MILLER, Australia (HONDA), 1:29.466

7. Andrea IANNONE, Italy (SUZUKI), 1:29.604

8. Johann ZARCO, France (YAMAHA), 1:29.667

9. Dani PEDROSA, Spain (HONDA), 1:29.702

10. Pol ESPARGARO, Spain (KTM), 1:29.760

11. Jorge LORENZO, Spain (DUCATI), 1:29.820

12. Valentino ROSSI, Italy (YAMAHA), 1:29.977

13. Karel ABRAHAM, Czech Republic (DUCATI), 1:29.987

14. Bradley SMITH, UK (KTM), 1:30.046

15. Alex RINS, Spain (SUZUKI), 1:30.085

16. Scott REDDING, UK (DUCATI), 1:30.140

17. Danilo PETRUCCI, Italy (DUCATI), 1:30.269

18. Loris BAZ, France (DUCATI), 1:30.274

19. Tito RABAT, Spain (HONDA), 1:30.546

20. Sam LOWES, UK (APRILIA), 1:30.682

21. Hector BARBERA, Spain (DUCATI), 1:30.777

22. Alvaro BAUTISTA, Spain (DUCATI), 1:31.688

23. Broc PARKES, Aystralia (YAMAHA), 1:32.152



More, from a press release issued by Dorna:

Close company: Aleix Espargaro heads Marquez & Dovizioso on Day 1

Aprilia rider just tops the timesheets - with Marquez and Dovizioso within a tenth

Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) went quickest on Day 1 of the Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, mastering Phillip Island in FP2 to head the timesheets ahead of reigning Champion and points leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) – but not by much. It was only 0.005 seconds splitting the two men, with Marquez’ key title rival Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) in third and still within a tenth. The top on Day 1 was anything but lonely.

Weather on Day 1 was sunny and fair but with some wind giving pause for thought, and the forecast for Saturday remains a worry for some – with temperatures looking set to fall. That made for some good squabbling for position, with a real chance that FP1 and FP2 combined timesheets may decide direct entry to Q2 should FP3 not give the field a chance to improve their times.

Behind the top three, last year’s winner at the Island Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) was fourth fastest after moving up the timesheets in FP2 to get in the mix at the front, ahead of Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP). Viñales, who topped testing at the venue in preseason, also suffered a crash in the afternoon as he slid off at Turn 8 – rider ok.

Jack Miller (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) impressed in the morning and again in the afternoon as he rides at home and only three weeks after breaking his leg in a training accident. The rider from Townsville put his Honda in sixth, and was a fitting 0.043 off Viñales ahead of him. Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was another who enjoyed a notable Friday, with the Italian’s P4 at Motegi giving him a boost and Day 1 of the Australian GP seeing the former podium finisher at the venue put himself in seventh.

Johann Zarco (Monster Yamah Tech 3) had a solid start to the Australian GP in eighth, with the Frenchman gunning for the Rookie of the Year title and, with the absence of teammate Jonas Folger, needing only a top six finish to complete the task on Sunday. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) was ninth quickest, and was back nearer the front following a tough Japanese GP.

The next three names on the timesheets made some headlines, as Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) went a tenth quicker in the afternoon to take P10, leaving both Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) in eleventh and twelfth respectively. That could be a hurdle for the two multiple-time World Champions as the weather remains in doubt for Saturday, when automatic graduation to Q2 will be finalised.

Karel Abraham (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) improved on his final run to take P13, with Bradley Smith taking the second KTM into fourteenth and Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) just 0.039 off the Brit’s best time.

Now it's all eyes on the sky for Saturday, as qualifying gets ready to rip up the Island from 15:10 local time (GMT +11).

Friday feeling: Nakagami demolishes the field

Japanese rider six tenths ahead of his rivals after Day 1 Down Under

Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) was fastest in FP1 at Phillip Island and repeated the feat in the afternoon session, in a class of his own and over half a second clear. Second place belonged to Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) despite a crash in FP2 for the Italian veteran, with Swiss rider Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer Racing) completing the top three on the Suter.

Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) made it three chassis in the top five as he kept the KTM a frontrunner, with Championship leader Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) rounding out the top five with his laptime from FP1 despite a run off. Rookie of the Year Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46) took sixth and shaved half a second off his previous best in the afternoon, ahead of Motegi winner Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS).

Championship challenger Tom Lüthi (CarXpert Interwetten) had a day of ups and downs as he crashed in FP2 and failed to improve his pace, with his FP1 best putting him in P8. Fabio Quartararo (Pons HP 40) ended Day 1 in P9, with Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing) completing the top ten despite a crash.

Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Racing Team) was eleventh quickest and suffered a quick crash at Turn 1 – rider ok – with Jesko Raffin (Garage Plus Interwetten) taking twelfth as he once again shines at the Island. Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) was P13, with Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Intact GP) ending Friday in fourteenth after having suffered a highside in FP1; rider ok. Locking out the fastest fifteen on Friday was reigning Moto3™ World Champion Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo), who won at the venue last year in the lightweight class.

Next up is qualifying, with the Championship gap only 19 points and both Morbidelli and Lüthi doubtless looking for more on Day 2.

Mir stakes his claim on the win on Day 1

Championship leader flies to the top in FP2 to set himself up for a final push for the crown at Phillip Island

Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) struck back in the afternoon on Day 1 of the Australian GP to go fastest in FP2 and fastest overall, taking over from the morning’s fastest man Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46). The Championship leader was just over two tenths clear of nearest challenger Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0), with Bo Bendnseyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) taking third after leading FP2 for some time.

Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Racing Team) showed his raw pace once again in P4 overall, ahead of Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) – with Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers) completing the top six. Fenati had a fast crash in FP1 – rider ok – and was outside the top twenty for some time before leaping up the timesheets towards the end of the day.

Juanfran Guevara (RBA BOE Racing Team) made it both RBA machines in the top ten, edging Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) by only 0.003. Bulega took P9 by the end of play, with the top ten completed by Marcos Ramirez (Platinum Bay Real Estate).

First time podium finisher at Motegi Marco Bezzecchi (CIP), Jules Danilo (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers), Niccolo Antonelli (Red Bull KTM Ajo), Darryn Binder (Platinum Bay Real Estate) – so close to the podium last season – and Manuel Pagliani (CIP) locked out the fifteen fastest on Friday.

Conditions were dry and largely sunny at Phillip Island on Day 1, but the wind was a factor for the field – especially in the lightweight class. Saturday the weather could be more unstable, with Moto3™ qualifying at 13:35 local time (GMT +11).



More, from a press release issued by Monster Yamaha Tech 3:

Rapid Zarco begins Phillip Island challenge – Solid opening performance by Parkes

Johann Zarco commenced the Australian Grand Prix with instant speed after powering to 8th at the close of the first day. He kicked off the weekend by rocketing to 2nd in Free Practice 1 and built up his pace in the afternoon before finishing 0.354 back from the top three.

Meanwhile, Jonas Folger’s round 16 replacement, Broc Parkes, made a confident start to proceedings in front of his home crowd. After a positive showing in the FP1 shakedown, he made a large step forward in the second practice session to cut 0.902 from his previous best. Tomorrow’s action begins with FP3 at 10:55 local time, or 01:55 in central Europe, where both riders aim to make further progress ahead of the qualifying shootout.

Johann Zarco

Position: 8th - Time: 1'29.667 - Laps: 39

“It was a positive opening day and I am happy that I started with a solid pace. In FP1, the bike felt good and I could ride some decent times quite early on. This gave me confidence and so, I was able to relax and I worked with the team to progress even more. In the afternoon, I could not be faster than this morning, as my personal best was almost the same time, yet everyone was quick and we are close. This means that it’s not easy to make big improvements but I am pushing and I hope that we can find solutions. The main area of focus is the stability because the wind and the speed of this track make the bike move a lot and this is what we will work on.”

Broc Parkes

Position: 23rd - Time: 1'32.152 - Laps: 38

"The call-up for this opportunity came at the last minute as I was in Andorra and I asked for it on Friday. Then, I heard from Hervé the next day and so I jumped on the plane and got here midweek. In all honesty, it was a bit of a struggle today as I thought I would get on with the bike quicker. It has been not easy and I had a small crash in the afternoon, which caused us to lose some time at the end. Yet, up until then, we started to advance and I made progress. The best guys in the world are in this class and they have been on their bikes for a long time so to jump on the Yamaha and try and be competitive straight away is definitely not an easy task. However, it’s going well and I am looking forward to tomorrow."



More, from a press release issued by Aprilia:

AN APRILIA IN THE LEAD ON FRIDAY AT PHILLIP ISLAND

ALEIX ESPARGARÓ TURNS A FANTASTIC LAP AND RIDES HIS RS-GP AHEAD OF THE REST

As soon as he got off his RS-GP at the end of the first practice sessions on Phillip Island, Aleix Espargaró talked about a historic moment and, beyond his enthusiasm, this statement is not an exaggeration. It's only Friday, but in MotoGP history, a bike from Noale has never flown so high. The Spanish rider finished the first day of the Australian GP in the lead, thanks to a fantastic lap in FP2 (1'29.225) and the final result once again confirms the significant progress of the Italian project.

For the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini, this is a first and one to be proud of, but thoughts are already on tomorrow's sessions and the race on Sunday. In fact, Aleix acknowledges the need to improve race pace, a fundamental element in a particularly long race (27 laps) and characterised by some bizarre weather to say the least.

Even today, the strong wind and varying temperatures were the protagonists of the day, causing difficulties for teams and riders, resulting in numerous crashes. The conditions had an impact on the weekend start for Sam Lowes who struggled to find the right confidence but finished the day on a positive trend. His improvement of almost two seconds between the two sessions is confirmation of this.

ALEIX ESPARGARO'

"It is just the first day, but we are clearly doing a great job. I am proud to be part of this project and I am sure that the guys in Noale will also be happy with the results we are achieving. To be honest, I did not expect it because this morning I didn't have a good feeling. The track conditions are rather demanding, as they always are at Phillip Island, but in FP2 I was able to put a good lap together. We can improve on pace. The RS-GP still doesn't turn the way I would like it to and I am lacking a bit of feeling on the front. Finding a good feeling for the race will be fundamental. Today we saw a lot of crashes and with the rain everything will be even harder."

SAM LOWES

"A good day for the team. Aleix is doing a great job and I was also able to improve in the afternoon. It takes experience to interpret the conditions on this track. The strong wind shakes your confidence and as a rookie it isn't easy. The high average speed on this track makes everything more complicated, but I finished the day on an upward trend. I didn't make any mistakes and I am feeling confident for tomorrow's sessions."



More, from a press release issued by Ducati Corse:

Third place for Andrea Dovizioso at the end of day 1 of Australian GP free practice at Phillip Island. Jorge Lorenzo ends the day in eleventh place

Andrea Dovizioso wrapped up the first day of free practice for the Australian Grand Prix, which will be held this weekend at the Phillip Island circuit, in third place. The Ducati Team’s Italian rider set his quickest time during the afternoon’s FP2 session, lapping in 1’29.322.

Eleventh place went to Jorge Lorenzo, the Spaniard setting his time of 1’29.820 in the second session and finishing up just over half-a-second behind the provisional pole mark.

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 1’29.322 (3rd)

“I’m very pleased with the way we started off today, with a good pace, and it was important to begin the weekend in this way. Now we still have to work to improve a few aspects, because in any case Marquez was also very quick and there are other riders who have a good pace. Let’s see what sort of conditions we will encounter tomorrow, but for sure this was a positive first day for me at Phillip Island.”

Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team #99) – 1’29.820 (11th)

“Today wasn’t an easy day for me and we’re still some way off the quickest riders. I don’t have enough confidence in the front and, despite trying some different settings, we weren’t able to be fast enough. We’ve understood a number of things, but we still don’t have the right set-up so it will be vitally important now to find some solutions to make my bike more stable. We will see what the weather is like tomorrow morning and, if it’s dry, we will try and get directly into Q2.”



More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:

Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix

MotoGP 2017 Round 16

Marquez second fastest on day one at Phillip Island, Pedrosa ninth

The opening day of the Australian Grand Prix took place in cool but dry conditions, allowing the riders to start the work on the setup of their bikes in preparation for tomorrow’s qualifying.

After setting the quickest lap time in the FP1 session, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez concluded the day in second position, just 0.005” down on provisional pole-setter Aleix Espargaro.

Marquez’s teammate Dani Pedrosa improved his speed throughout the day and finished ninth in the combined times, less than half a second from the top.

Marc Marquez 93

2ND 1'29.230

“I’m happy with today because we started with a good base setup in FP1 and I immediately felt good on the bike. Our pace was fast and we were able to do some good work with the tyres. Anyway, I think for tomorrow we can try and further improve the setup, especially the stability of the bike in the fast corners. There are a few places where we could be quicker if we can manage to take another step in that area. The temperature was cold and the wind was quite strong, and sometimes it almost made the front fold. But that’s normal here at this track, and you must try to find a compromise with the setup in order to minimize these factors.”

Dani Pedrosa 26

9TH 1'29.702

“Well, today was a little bit difficult to immediately find the right setting. We tried a few things, but we still have margin to improve. We were able to try a few tyres but we still have to make a few adjustments on the setup. In the afternoon the asphalt was a bit warmer than in the morning, but the wind and the cloudy skies made the temperature colder. For the moment we’re suffering a bit too much spinning and we have to improve the front feeling. Hopefully tomorrow we’ll be able to take a step forward.” 



More, from a press release issued by Movistar Yamaha:

MOVISTAR YAMAHA COMMENCE AUSTRALIAN CAMPAIGN

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP's Maverick Viñales made a strong start to this weekend's Australian Grand Prix, completing the first day of free practice as the fifth fastest rider. Despite pain in his right shoulder, Valentino Rossi also came out fighting at the Phillip Island circuit, taking twelfth position in the combined timesheets.

Phillip Island (Australia), 20th October 2017

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi enjoyed sunny conditions at the Phillip Island circuit today during the first free practice sessions of this weekend's Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix. The teammates worked diligently on their bikes' settings and secured fifth and twelfth place respectively.

Fully committed to his goal to decrease the 30-point gap to the rider in second place in the championship standings, Viñales hit the ground running in the morning session. Despite a stiff breeze, he was soon on the pace and climbed up to second place before shifting his attention to his bike‘s set-up. The Spaniard ended the FP1 session in fifth place, with a 1'29.781s fastest lap and a 0.179s margin to first.

He continued his form in the dry afternoon session and it only took him a few laps to shoot up to second again in the provisional rankings. He planned on spending what was left of the 45-minute session testing various setting options, but had to slightly amend this strategy after a crash in turn 8, with 20 minutes to go. He was quickly up on his feet again and hurried to the box to rejoin the fray before the times started to drop in the final 15 minutes of the session. Back on the bike, Viñales put his head down, but was unable to improve on his time. His best result, a 1'29.423s on lap 7, kept him in fifth place in the FP2 and combined free practice timesheets, 0.198s from the front.

Keen on making the most of the dry session time on day one on Phillip Island, teammate Rossi also made a positive start to the Australian GP. Though riding with pain in his right shoulder, resulting from last week's crash, he steadily upped his pace at the start of FP1. He briefly moved up inside the top-10, before he concerned himself with the set-up of his Yamaha. He set a 1'30.553s best lap as the session progressed and finished in 13th place, 0.951s from first.

The Doctor booked solid progress in the afternoon, quickly positioning his YZR-M1 inside the top-5. While he resumed his work, further fine-tuning the balance of his bike, the pace of the field increased. The Italian responded at the end of the session by dipping under the 1‘30 mark with a 1'29.977s. He bettered his morning time by more than half a second, but it wasn't enough for him to secure a position inside the top-10 and he ended the first day in twelfth place in the FP2 and combined results, with a 0.752s-margin to the front-runner.

MASSIMO MEREGALLI

TEAM DIRECTOR

It was a completely different first day compared to last weekend, everything changed back to normal. The final results didn‘t fully reflect our true potential. It was a pity that Maverick crashed halfway through FP2, because I‘m quite sure that his placement could have been different. He showed good pace and confidence since FP1 and we think we still have room for improvement, even if in general he‘s already quite satisfied about the behaviour of the bike. Despite pain in his right shoulder, Valentino has been able to do two good practice sessions. It was unfortunate that they used the softer option with a setting that wasn‘t quite to Vale‘s liking, which prohibited him from exploiting the full potential of the tyre. We aim to continue today‘s comfortable groove tomorrow.

MAVERICK VIÑALES

The day overall has been really good, honestly. Before the crash I was already coming up with red-helmet times in many sectors, but I was trying so hard I pushed the bike over the limit. We still have to improve, but the crash was, for sure, my mistake. I pushed in the outlap when the tyres were cold. I tried to do my best. Anyway, after the crash, I didn‘t feel as good as before, but I was booking many 1‘29s and was on the pace so that means we have a good base set-up and now we have to improve, especially in sector 4. The track is different from what it was like during the pre-season test, but it‘s not bad. It‘s cooler, but the track still provides good grip so that‘s good for us. Tomorrow we‘re going to try to improve even more, but I‘m quite happy how the bike was working here today.

VALENTINO ROSSI

The position, unfortunately, was quite bad. It was important to try and stay inside the top-10 today, because here on Phillip Island you never know what will happen tomorrow with the weather, but apart from that we worked a lot and the feeling with the bike is not bad. I tried another modification at the end with the softer tyre, which has better potential, but unfortunately I didn‘t like it a lot, especially in the fast corners, so for this reason I wasn‘t able to improve enough to stay inside the top-10. We have a lot to do, also the tyre choice front and rear is still open, so I hope for good conditions tomorrow.



More, from a press release issued by Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS:

Miller returns home in stunning style

Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Jack Miller made a heroic return to MotoGP action today, with the Australian treating a windswept home crowd to two outstanding performances in practice at Phillip Island.

Back in action just three weeks after breaking his right leg in a training accident, Miller’s reward for going through an intensive rehabilitation was an electrifying start to his crucial home race.

A faultless lap of 1’29.724 placed Miller in a terrific third place in FP1 this morning, which was only 0.122s behind the best time set by current World Championship leader Marc Marquez.

Boosted by his confident ride this morning, and with no severe pain or lack of movement restricting him on his Honda RC213V machine, Miller capitalised on his strong start with an equally impressive ride in demanding conditions for this afternoon’s second 45-minute session.

Although ambient temperature for FP2 was slightly cooler than this morning, track temperature on the jaw-dropping 4.4km circuit was marginally warmer. Aware that cooler conditions and potentially wet conditions predicted for FP3 might prevent lap times being improved tomorrow when crucial places are at stake for Q2, Miller left nothing to chance and he fired in a lap of 1’29.466 to secure a richly deserved top six.

Today’s action took part in dry but windy and chilly conditions and Tito Rabat found it more complicated than he’d anticipated to establish a fast and constant rhythm.

The Spaniard didn’t let a rapid front-end tumble in the tricky downhill braking zone for turn 10 knock his confidence and Rabat was able to slash a full second off his best pace in the second session.

A personal best of 1’30.546 placed him 19th overall in a session that saw the top 21 split by just 1.5s.

Jack Miller: 6th - 1’29.466

“In terms of my physical condition I don’t feel too bad on the bike once the adrenaline kicks in. As you can imagine I’m still missing a bit of strength because at this track there are so many high-speed corners that it can be hard work to change direction. I don’t feel as quick in that area as normal but I’ve had good speed all day and been happy with my pace. Third this morning was a great early boost and I knew it was important to be fast again this afternoon because we don’t know if the lap times can be better in FP3, so one big goal today was to get into the top 10. I love this track and I love the atmosphere and it’s great to see so many fans coming out to support me.”

Tito Rabat: 19th - 1’30.546

“Today has not been the easiest start even if the pace this morning was very fast very quickly. I didn’t change tyres at all in FP1 and I was able to set a pace I felt comfortable at. I did a lot of laps as well in FP2 and if I didn’t crash at turn 10 I think we could say the day was positive. I’m only 1.3s from the best pace at the top and I feel I’m riding with a lot of problems. If we can make the bike easier to manage than I think we can be even more competitive for the rest of the weekend. I need to be able to turn the bike with a little bit more speed when I release the brake and pick up the throttle.”

Ramon Aurin: Jack Miller Chief Engineer

“We have to be very happy with Jack’s performance today. We were a little bit worried before we started this morning wondering how Jack’s leg would be on such a demanding circuit like Phillip Island. But right from the start in FP1 he felt good and we achieved our main mission to get into the top 10. It looks like tomorrow could be unpredictable with the weather, so it was very important to make sure we could try and get into Q2 this afternoon. Jack was strong on the medium rear tyre this morning and that’s a good sign for the race. He also made a good step with the soft rear tyre but it looks like the predicted rain will make it very difficult to set a faster lap time tomorrow, so we have to be very satisfied with how we approached the job today.”



More, from a press release issued by Octo Pramac Racing:

Cold Friday for Octo Pramac Racing at Phillip Island: Scott 16th, Petrux 17th

Sun shines on the Phillip Island circuit but the temperature is cold and does not manage to warm up the performance of Scott Redding and Danilo Petrucci who finished the first day of free practice for the Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix in 16th and 17th position respectively.

After a difficult FP1, Scott Redding seems to find greater feeling in FP2 and reduces the gap with the Top 10 to 4 tenths of a second.

Danilo Petrucci tries to go out in FP1 with the new fairings but the sensations are not positive. In the afternoon Petrux returns on track with the standard set up and manages to be at least faster by registering the Top Speed of the day (339.0 km/h). In the second part of the circuit, however, the feeling is not the best.

17th Danilo Petrucci - 1'30.269

“I had more difficulties than I thought. I don't have much feeling, especially on the front. This morning we chose to start with wings but the bike was a bit too heavy due to the wind. We tried to change this afternoon but I still do not feel confident. I am sorry about how things have gone today. Tomorrow we must do better”.

16th Scott Redding - 1'30.140

“Today was not so badly even though the position is certainly not what we would have expected. However, I feel that the feeling is positive even though there have been problems for all the satellite Ducati today. I don't want to change a lot because I feel comfortable with this bike. Surely we must work on the details to be more competitive on time attack”.


More, from a press release issued by Reale Avintia Racing:

Action starts for Reale Avintia Racing at Phillip Island

The Australian Grand Prix has started today at Phillip Island for the Reale Avintia Racing team riders and although both have finished towards the rear of the standings, they are confident for tomorrow and they expect to step forward and improve their positions on the grid for the 27-lap-race on Sunday.

Loris Baz finished 18th just 0.5s from the Top 10 and tomorrow he hopes to improve the set-up of his Ducati Desmosedici, with the aim to move straight to Q2. The Frenchman finished the day with a crash, fortunately without major consequences.

Reale Avintia Racing rider Hector Barbera worked hard with his crew to find the best set-up, and although his position doesn’t reflect his feeling, the Spaniard is overall happy with the first day at the Island and he is confident for tomorrow where he expects to get closer to the fastest riders.

Loris Baz | 1'30.274 | P18

“The first day has been a bit complicated but I think we did a good job. This morning I did not have very good feeling and we spent the whole session with the same tyres in order to reserve some for this afternoon and to keep working on the set-up of the bike. In the second session, I immediately felt better with the bike and we have tried some things to improve. I’m still not completely satisfied with the feeling I have, but I think we’re on the right way. At the end I suffered a small crash in the slower turn of the circuit and it was a shame because we could still have improved a little more”.

Hector Barbera | 1'30.777 | P21

“It was a very strange day and I started with a rather unexpected crash. When I shifted back one gear at turn nine, the bike high-sided. The team did a great job and repaired the bike in time for the second free practice. We have tried several different set-up options and it was useful for us to get the right direction for tomorrow. We have been working with the medium rear tyre and with the soft at the end, but although I didn’t push to the maximum I think we have a good base for tomorrow. We will see how the weather will be, but if it stays as today I think we can improve a lot. “



More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda:

CRUTCHLOW MAKES FAST START AT PHILLIP ISLAND

Cal Crutchlow made an excellent start to proceedings at the Australian Grand Prix, setting the fourth fastest time on the first day of practice on Phillip Island - scene of his second grand prix victory one year ago.

The LCR Honda man was tenth fastest after the chilly morning practice, but had chosen not to run the softer rear tyre employed by many of his rivals. He then improved his lap time in the equally cool afternoon session by over a second, to sit a tenth outside of the best lap of the day. With mixed weather forecast for the rest of the weekend, Crutchlow is primed to take a run at the top spots in qualifying on Saturday.

Cal Crutchlow – 4th

(1’29.329 – lap 19 of 21)

"At the end of the day we are happy enough with our performance, but we still need to improve the setting of the bike overnight. I didn’t feel great with the tyre today, but on the last run we seemed to make a big jump and some decent improvement.

“I look forward to seeing what we can do tomorrow in qualifying and also on Sunday. As things stand I think it’s going to be a big battle, and I look forward to seeing how it all turns out.” 



More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki ECSTAR:

SOLID IMPROVEMENTS ON DAY 1 AT PHILLIP ISLAND

Sunny yet bracingly cold weather welcomed Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins on their first day of practice at the Australian GP, where the Italian was able to get 7th place in the combined classification (1’29.604) and the Spaniard is in a provisional 15th place (1’30.085).

Still buzzing from his performance in Japan, Iannone took to the track this morning and immediately had a good feeling with his GSX-RR, managing to keep his name in the top of the sheets for the whole FP1. His 1’29.857 – worthy of 6th place – was even more valuable considering that he was one of the only riders who were able to run the whole session without changing a single tyre. Some setup modifications in the afternoon allowed him and the team to make further progress, and his lap time improved by more than two tenths of a second, putting him only 0.379s from today’s leader. His performance gives him provisional direct access to Q2.

Some more struggles for Rins as the wind substantially affected his touch for the bike in the morning; he was not able to lap faster than 1'31.329, slotting him into the 17th time. With some modifications on the machine and more experience on Phillip Island´s fast circuit, the young Spaniard later made a big step forward in his lap time when he improved by 1.3s from this morning´s timed session. The current provisional 15th place does not give him direct access to Q2, but the distance from the top ten is only a little more than three tenths of a second at the moment.

Davide Brivio – Team Manager

“I think we started really well on this track. Even in these dry conditions, Andrea was always fast. It seems our bike is well-suited to this track. Andrea is riding pretty well and he only had a small complaint about fixing some electrical issues, but overall he is happy. We know the electronics is one area where we have to improve but we are working really hard. With regards to Alex, he had a great day as well. He completed very good laps. As usual he tries on Friday to adapt to the bike and the layout of the circuit, and then pushes more on Saturday. I would say so far it’s been a good weekend with a promising start, so now we will be focusing on improving with the bike for tomorrow.”

Andrea Iannone

“It’s been a positive day; this morning we had a good start and I raced with consistency for the whole session. We only struggled with the front tyre. The medium has good stability but less grip, while the soft gives me more grip but has some movement. We should be able to find a compromise and get more stability and grip. We can also improve on the rear grip, to get some more traction. We have tremendous potential and already some ideas with which to work tomorrow.”

Alex Rins

“It’s been an encouraging day as we were able to take a clear step forward in the afternoon. This morning I suffered a lot with the wind. That prevented me from feeling at ease, but however we were able to do some interesting tests with the medium tyre. In the afternoon we went more in depth with it, but also switched to the soft tyre. All this work has produced a big improvement in the lap time. Let’s also wait on the weather for tomorrow. We already have some more ideas to improve on a dry track, but if turns rainy, we can use the added experience we have recently gained to our advantage.” 

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