The Grand Prix of Australia got underway today at the Phillip Island circuit with two free practice sessions run under glorious sunshine and warm conditions. Yamaha Factory Racing rider Jorge Lorenzo was very quick to find a good pace in the morning session, the only rider able to get close to Championship leader Casey Stoner. Lorenzo wrapped up the morning in second, just 0.269 seconds from first. The afternoon saw times suffer a little as track conditions changed, the Mallorcan’s pace dropping slightly as he hunted extra rear grip, finishing in third, 0.576 seconds from provisional pole.
Ben Spies made big improvements between the two sessions today. The Texan struggled in the morning session, unable to find a good pace with no positive set up. Some hard work by his crew delivered a much more competitive set up for the afternoon enabling him to climb from eighth in session one to fourth in session two, finding over half a second of extra speed.
Position 2nd – Time 1.30.744 – Laps 24
“Today I felt great in the morning but in the afternoon not as good. It was impossible to replicate the lap time from the morning. We were up to five tenths slower and I’m not sure why, maybe the track conditions were different, anyway we’ll see what happens tomorrow. We know that Casey is very fast here but today he wasn’t so quick. We must try to win and if not possible fight for the podium on Sunday.”
Position 5th – Time 1.31.495 – Laps 36
“I’m feeling good today; we started this morning with both bikes not working so well so we knew we had to come up with something this afternoon. The second session we were working really well but still struggling in a few areas we need to make better tomorrow. I think we definitely can and if we do I can see us dropping up to half a second pretty easily. It’s up to the boys; we know what the problem is we just need to work out how to fix it. As always I’m going to try the best I can to make it interesting for the fans and get up there.”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“It was quite a good day for us today, the morning session especially was a little bit better than the afternoon. Everybody seemed to have less speed on the straight which was strange as there wasn’t much wind. Jorge feels confident on the bike and has space to improve, especially with rear grip. The gap between him and Casey was quite close this morning so we are quite satisfied with the first day.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“We had some problems from the morning session with Ben which we partly solved in the afternoon allowing him to get more and more comfortable on the bike. There are still some points where we have to improve and work on but it seems that we know what we need to do. Hopefully the track will be dry tomorrow morning so we can see if we get the results we expect from the changes. Overall the pace is good and our tyre choice is almost done so for a first day we’ve done a great job. Jorge was very quick to find a good pace this morning. He still needs to find something but we are confident he will also make another step tomorrow.”
Fantastic fourth for Edwards in Phillip Island practice
Colin Edwards made a flying start to practice for the Australian MotoGP round at the spectacular Phillip Island circuit today, the American powering his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team machine to a fantastic fourth place on the timesheets.
Edwards was immediately on the pace in this morning’s opening practice, the experienced 37-year-old quickly finding a comfortable set-up with his YZR-M1 machine to post a best lap of 1.31.480 that placed him in an outstanding fourth place.
Only Casey Stoner, Jorge Lorenzo and Marco Simoncelli were faster and Edwards started this afternoon’s second session in optimistic mood that he could once again challenge for the top five in gloriously sunny conditions at the 2.764 miles circuit.
But changes to the settings on his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team machine for the second session didn’t deliver the expected improvements in performance and he lapped at a best pace of 1.31.805 to finish in ninth. His impressive pace this morning though secured him the fourth best time on the combined leaderboard and he will work closely with his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 crew tonight to gain more turning performance from his YZR-M1 machine ahead of tomorrow’s final practice and qualifying sessions.
British team-mate Cal Crutchlow made a solid start to the weekend and he finished 12th on combined times with a best lap of 1.31.969. Crutchlow has previous experience of the breath-taking Phillip Island track from his time in World Supersport and World Superbikes, but today was all about acclimatising to the circuit’s fast and sweeping corners on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 800cc MotoGP machine.
The 25-year-old set a time of 1.32.583 this morning and he needed only four laps of the second session to better that pace. He eventually lapped well over half-a-second faster and he completed the day just over 0.4s behind Edwards.
Position 4th – Time 1.31.480 – Laps 36
“This morning went brilliantly and I came out of the gate really fast and flying. I felt good on the bike but this afternoon I just couldn’t get close to the pace I had this morning. I had really good grip from the front tyre this morning but when the temperature started to come up a little bit the track started to feel a bit greasy. So for this afternoon we switched to the hard compound front tyre to see what the difference was and there is a really fine line between what does and doesn’t work around this track. We made one little change to the bike but the bike became really hard to ride. The track is pretty bumpy and I was having a lot of vibration and I just didn’t feel anywhere near as comfortable in the second session as I did this morning. We need to go back to what we know worked this morning and make a couple of tweaks to see if we can make that set-up better. The main thing is to get the front working better over the bumps.”
Position 12th – Time 1.31.969 – Laps 43
“Today’s result doesn’t look too bad on the timesheets because although I am down in 12th, I am less than half-a-second away from Colin and he is fourth. But it was a very difficult day to be honest because I had a lot of grip issues and the bike was hard to turn as well. And if I run over any rough tarmac or any bumps I nearly crash, so I’ve got to sit down with my guys tonight and come up with a plan to try and make the bike better for tomorrow. We made an improvement to the bike after this morning and that was reflected in the times because I was quite a bit quicker this afternoon, but we’ve still got a long way to go to make feel more comfortable and confident. I think we need to be looking at making some pretty drastic changes to the bike for tomorrow, but I’m confident we’ll find something and I’ll be battling for a place in the top 10 on the grid.”
2011 MotoGP Australia
Phillip Island 14/10/2011
1 Casey Stoner Honda AUS 1’30.475
2 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’30.744
3 Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 1’30.912
4 Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 1’31.480
5 Ben Spies Yamaha USA 1’31.495
6 Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 1’31.532
7 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1’31.543
8 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda JPN 1’31.582
9 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’31.662
10 Randy De Puniet Ducati FRA 1’31.670
11 Alvaro Bautista Suzuki ESP 1’31.777
12 Cal Crutchlow Yamaha GBR 1’31.969
13 Valentino Rossi Ducati ITA 1’32.014
14 Loris Capirossi Ducati ITA 1’32.052
15 Karel Abraham Ducati CZE 1’32.360
(Nicky Hayden, 1/1/2008)
Fastest Lap Ever:
(Casey Stoner, 10/5/2008)
Last Years Winner: