Yamaha Factory Racing is embarking on the final fly away of the season, a gruelling double header kicking off with Phillip Island this weekend and followed by Sepang a week later. The stunningly beautiful Phillip Island circuit with its sweeping and flowing nature has a reputation for unpredictable weather, providing challenging conditions including heavy rain, cold temperatures and high winds for the MotoGP riders to overcome. Reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo can claim two 250cc Grand Prix victories and one MotoGP second place podium at the track last year. The Mallorcan will be looking for any opportunity to close the current 40 point gap to Championship leader Casey Stoner with just three races remaining of the season.
Ben Spies is no stranger to Phillip Island, kicking off his rookie World Superbike year there with a race win in 2009 from pole position and enjoying a strong performance as a MotoGP rookie in 2010. Last year’s race saw him start from the front row alongside 2011 Yamaha team mate Lorenzo, finishing a respectable fifth and claiming the 2010 Rookie of the Year title.
“I am now heading to Australia after a few days of training in Indonesia. I’m looking forward to riding at the Phillip Island circuit, one of my favourite and probably the most beautiful track we race on. After the race in Japan, where we had a positive result, we are really determined to be on the podium again. We know it’s not going to be easy because Casey is usually invincible on his home track, but I will try my best and won’t give up!”
“Phillip Island is such a great circuit to ride; I’ve got great memories there from Superbike and also last year where we had a really good race. We had yet another unlucky break in Japan but still managed to deliver a good ride so we’ll take the positive from that and give it 100% this weekend and see what we can do. I’ve been relaxing here in Australia for a few days so I’m fully fit and refreshed and ready for it!”
Wilco Zeelenberg – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Manager
“It’s always difficult with big fly aways overseas so it will be a tiring event for us. Casey is really fast at Phillip Island but if we can find our winning set up quickly then hopefully we can be up there. It will be difficult but we’ll give it our best shot as always. Jorge likes the track and Japan showed us that anything can happen during a race so we won’t give up until the end.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Factory Racing Team Director
“Phillip Island is a very special circuit, I think it could be a good one for us knowing our bike. I know that both riders really like riding there which is positive. In Japan we had good results in a difficult race despite all the problems Ben had during the weekend, this makes me confident for this race. Usually the Phillip Island race is characterised by unpredictable weather, it will be quite cold but hopefully dry otherwise it’s going to be a difficult weekend.”
Lives: Barcelona, Spain
GP victories: 38 (18 x MotoGP, 17 x 250cc, 4 x 125cc)
First GP victory: Brazil, 2003 (125cc)
First GP: Jerez, Spain, 2002 (125cc)
GP starts: 161 (65 x MotoGP, 48 x 250cc, 46 x 125cc)
Pole positions: 44 (16 x MotoGP, 23 x 250cc, 3 x 125cc)
World Championships: 3 (MotoGP 2010, 250cc, 2006/7)
Lives: Longview Texas / Lake Como Italy
GP victories: 1
First GP victory: Assen, Netherlands, 2011
First GP: Donington, UK, 2008 (MotoGP)
GP starts: 36
Pole positions: 1
World Championships: 1 (WSB 2009)
Grand Prix Results: Phillip Island 2010
1. C.Stoner Ducati 41’09.128
2. J.Lorenzo Yamaha +8.598
3. V.Rossi Yamaha +17.997
5. Ben Spies Yamaha Tech 3 +22.211
Phillip Island Record Lap
N.Hayden (Ducati) 2008, 1’30.059
Phillip Island Best Lap
C.Stoner (Ducati) 2008, 1’28.665
Edwards and Crutchlow fired up for Phillip Island challenge
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team makes the long trip to Australia this weekend with confidence high that Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow can battle for a double top 10 finish at the breath-taking Phillip Island circuit.
Edwards has an impressive record at the 2.764 miles track and in his eight finishes from nine starts, he has only finished lower than ninth on one occasion with a best of fourth place back in 2004. He has qualified in fifth position at Phillip Island for the past two seasons and he is aiming for a fifth consecutive top 10 finish at the spectacular coastal track, which has stunning views over the Bass Strait.
The 37-year-old is currently ninth in the overall rankings on 98-points and six-points from Sunday’s 27-lap race will see Edwards better his tally from 2010 with two races of the World Championship still remaining.
Crutchlow is no stranger to the technical Phillip Island layout, which features fast and sweeping corners that provides one of the toughest examinations of man and machine on the calendar.
Crutchlow qualified on the front row of the grid at last year’s World Superbike round and he just missed the podium in an unforgettable World Supersport race in 2009 when the top five were split by just over a second.
Like most of the grid, Crutchlow is a massive fan of the fast and undulating circuit and he is looking forward to riding a MotoGP bike for the first time at Phillip Island when practice gets underway on Friday morning.
The British rider is currently enjoying a fine run of consistent form in his rookie season and he is seeking a fifth consecutive points-scoring finish on Sunday.
Due to its proximity to the coast, the Phillip Island weekend is frequently dominated by rapidly changing weather conditions including heavy rain, high winds and bitterly cold temperatures that only adds to the challenge facing the MotoGP field.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team will have little time to rest and recuperate as the World Championship paddock immediately heads back to the Far East for the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang next weekend ahead of the season finale in Valencia.
“It is always a special feeling to be heading to Phillip Island because I’ve got a lot of good friends in Australia who always come out to support me. And the track is something really special and there’s nothing else like it on the calendar. I fell in love with the track when I raced here years ago in World Superbikes and I still get that same buzz even now. It is super-fast, has lots of undulation and you get to push a MotoGP bike to its absolute limit at Phillip Island. The weather usually throws up a few surprises for us and I’m sure this weekend will be no exception, but we’ll be ready for whatever happens and pushing as hard as always to get the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team the best result possible. After a couple of difficult races I was back in the top 10 in Japan and that will be my aim again this weekend.”
“I’ve been really excited about this weekend for a while now because Phillip Island is an awesome track and I can’t wait to get a taste of what it feels like to ride a MotoGP bike on it. I’ve ridden a Supersport 600 and World Superbike machine there and had some good performances, so I’m hoping it will be the same this weekend. I’ve been told to expect some unpredictable weather this weekend, which will feel strange because normally when I’m here it is really hot and sunny in February. Whatever happens it will be the same for everybody and I’m just concentrating on extending my good run of results. I’ve scored points in the last four races and that consistency has been good for my confidence and at least I’m coming here without the extra pressure of learning the track. That makes a massive difference because I can focus all my energy on my riding and setting up the bike, so the top 10 is my goal again.”
2011 MotoGP Australia
Phillip Island 10/10/2011
(Nicky Hayden, 1/1/2008)
Fastest Lap Ever:
(Casey Stoner, 10/5/2008)
Last Years Winner: