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Drenched First Day on Phillip Island Halts Movistar Yamaha MotoGP`s Free Practice Progress

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The first practices of the weekend for the Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix got underway today with Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi battling soaking conditions. With very little track time to be had, due to persistent rain and the cancelation of FP2, the teammates finished 19th and 20th respectively in the combined times.

Lorenzo used the session with caution while getting to know the wet weather tyres and trying to find a matching set-up. The crew worked hard to find better stability for his bike as standing water across parts of the track made it difficult to find a good pace. Struggling to get heat in the tyres, causing a lack of grip, he set a best lap of 1’45.651s for 19th place.

Rossi found a good wet setting early on in the morning and was featured as one of the main protagonists throughout the session, setting a best lap of 1’40.998s at the end of an 11-lap long first stint. However, as he set his best lap on a super soft front tyre which riders are only allowed for no more than ten laps, all the times of his first outing were canceled, leaving him in 20th position.

The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP teammates had to be patient for the second practice session to get underway as it was delayed due to the weather conditions. The afternoon free practice session got underway when the track started to dry out at 15:45 local time.

The Doctor was again eager to head out and completed a couple of laps, but the track action wasn’t to last. FP2 was red flagged and suspended until 16:45 local time with still more than 31 minutes of the session remaining and was ultimately not restarted for safety reasons.

The cancelation of FP2 meant both Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders were unable to improve on their best morning lap, causing Lorenzo to complete the first day in 19th place in the combined session times and Rossi in 20th.

Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director

“Today has been less than an ideal scenario, to say the least. The conditions on track were extreme today, making it very challenging for the riders to find a good feeling. This is the worst kind of weather to try and set up a MotoGP bike. Nevertheless, we still managed to try a couple of settings in the morning session. Valentino was quite satisfied with the balance of his bike. Jorge didn’t want to take unnecessary risks today and only rode a couple of laps to get a first feel for the track and his two bikes. We hope for better weather tomorrow and some additional practice time so our riders can progress to Q2.”

Jorge Lorenzo
19th / 1’45.651 / 5 laps

“I exited the pit lane quite late this morning and I didn’t make so many laps on the first run. I was progressing little by little, but I stopped too early and when I tried the second bike there was already more water on the track, so I did just one more lap. It was difficult to find a good reference to understand on which bike we were better in these conditions.”

Valentino Rossi
20th / 1’47.225 / 15 laps

“The conditions were very difficult today. Unfortunately we had bad weather, it was very cold and there was lots of water. This morning we were able to ride for 20 minutes in acceptable conditions and it wasn’t so bad, I was quite strong. In the afternoon the temperature went down and the amount of water was too much, so unfortunately we couldn’t ride. We couldn’t work on the feeling on the bike so we keep the quite good feeling we had at the beginning of the practice, but at the same time we lost the heat, so we have to wait for tomorrow.”

Rain interrupts track action for Tech3 pair on day one at the Australian GP

Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team rider Pol Espargaro battled against the torrid weather on the first day of the Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix to finish in 7th overall. The round 16 weekend kicked off under constant rain at the Phillip Island circuit and Espargaro braved the cold and damp weather in FP1 as he collected valuable wet setup information. He completed the session in 7th, and he looked ahead to the afternoon. Here, however, after a delayed start to the session due to the increased rainfall, the Spaniard opted against taking to the asphalt because of the treacherous conditions. The practice was eventually cancelled, but nevertheless, the 2013 Moto2 World Champion will aim to get straight back to work in free practice 3 tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Bradley Smith endured a shortened first day of action in southern Australia and despite his eagerness to experience as much time on his Yamaha YZR-M1 as possible whilst he continues his recovery process, he wisely opted against running in the waterlogged FP2 session. The British star chose to sit out the majority of the morning practice, yet with under ten minutes remaining he jumped on his MotoGP bike and courageously completed several laps to get a feel for the high-speed circuit in the wet on this year’s Michelin tyres. However, due to his injured right knee, the 25-year-old only completed 7 laps in order to minimise any risks, but tomorrow he hopes for better weather in order to carry on his setup work ahead of the all-important qualifying shootout.

Pol Espargaro
7th / 1’42.465 / 13 laps

“Today has been complicated because of the weather, but we all know that the Phillip Island circuit is a unique place as it is so close to the ocean. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any track time during FP2 as there was too much water on the track, yet we had the whole practice this morning and I am pleased with our performance. I believe that today, the main aim for me was to get accustomed to the circuit again, which is what we did, plus my feeling with the bike was positive. Of course, we still have a margin of improvement to make and we didn’t try the supersoft tyre yet, as we don’t have many in our allocation, so we decided that it would be better to keep them for tomorrow. However, to finish day 1 inside the top 10 and not far from the top of the time sheets is a promising start to the weekend and we will work hard to improve even more in FP3.”

Bradley Smith
DNQ / 1’49.008 / 7 laps

“The first day in Phillip Island hasn’t been the best, but with these tough conditions, not only with the water, but also with the temperature at one of the fastest circuits in the world, racing can become quite dangerous so we had to play it safe. I completed a few laps this morning, but unfortunately, when I went out on the track, the weather took a turn for the worse and it was quite tricky. However, if we compare my times with the other riders who were out when I was, I can see that I was quite competitive. This afternoon, the weather got worse and there was a lot of water on the track. Even though the session was delayed and then eventually red flagged, I made my own decision to sit out that practice, and wait for tomorrow instead. I didn’t want to create any more stress or risk making my injury any worse, and I also want to keep a bit of extra power for the race on Sunday, which looks like it could be dry.”