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Lorenzo on top at rainy Phillip Island, Rossi seventh

The notorious Phillip Island weather tried its best to disrupt the first day of the Australian Grand Prix today, heavy rain forcing the practice session to be delayed two hours after part of the track flooded. Action got underway eventually with new World Champion Jorge Lorenzo getting straight down to business and topping the time sheets, while his Fiat Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi finished in seventh place.

23-year-old Lorenzo has only had a few days to get used to being the MotoGP World Champion but with the pressure now lifted the Spaniard was raring to get back on his M1 and get on with the business of racing. The first half of the session was run on a soaking track but Lorenzo took just a few laps to take the lead and was not ousted for the rest of the practice, despite the track drying a little in the later stages.

Rossi, who was hoping to continue in the fantastic form that saw him win last Sunday, was cautious in the difficult conditions today, feeling like he had a good base setting but knowing that he and his crew can improve further tomorrow. With more rain expected it will be important to maximise their wet setting tomorrow morning to make sure they can challenge in qualifying.

Jorge Lorenzo – Position: 1st Time: 1’41.146 Laps: 20
“Today was the first day on the bike after we won the title and I am still very happy. We can’t stop now, we have to keep going and finish this season in the best way possible, working for the future. The conditions today were really hard – wet, cold and windy. I am very happy to be so fast in rain, because it didn’t use to be this way, but we need to be prepared because it could be a hard weekend. I would like to ride in the dry, of course, but we will have to wait and see what happens.”

Valentino Rossi – Position: 7th Time: 1’42.626 Laps: 22
“This weather is unbelievable and it was really at the limit of what you can race motorcycles in today. It’s even more amazing because yesterday was beautiful! I hope it will be better tomorrow but it doesn’t look too hopeful. My setting here in the wet was okay and I feel quite happy on the bike, but I didn’t want to push too hard in these conditions. I think we can improve it more, but we need to wait and see how the weather is tomorrow. We hope for sun!”

Wilco Zeelenberg – Team Manager
“It’s very wet and very cold, so not ideal but in fact Jorge already has a very good pace in the wet here and he was quickest after just a few laps. Later on when it was drying no one improved because it was still very slippery, but it was good to be strong on a very wet track and this was an important practice. We learned a lot about our setting; we’re happy and feeling good.”

Davide Brivio – Team Manager
“The bike is feeling okay but we still need some more time to work a bit more on the setting for Valentino in these difficult conditions, we tried a lot of different things today but it looks like we can still make him more comfortable than this. It’s very wet and it looks like it could be even worse tomorrow, but we will keep working in this way and we hope to improve the time a bit.”

Edwards and Spies battle the elements at Phillip Island
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team riders Colin Edwards and Ben Spies battled treacherous conditions at the start of the Australian MotoGP weekend today as strong winds and heavy rain battered the awe-inspiring Phillip Island circuit.

Famous for its unpredictable weather, today’s conditions could not have been a bigger contrast to those experienced last weekend in Sepang where Edwards and Spies coped with extreme tropical heat and humidity during the Malaysian Grand Prix. Air and track temperature this afternoon though only just hit a chilly ten degrees.

The American duo didn’t take to the track until nearly two hours afte r the scheduled start at 1.55pm was aborted because of serious disruption caused by atrocious weather conditions.

Standing water lay in several sections of the 4.448km track, but Phillip Island officials worked tirelessly to ensure thousands of windswept and rain-soaked fans got to witness practice in all three Grand Prix classes.

Edwards clocked the eighth best time with a lap of 1.43.1013, the 36-year-old turning the session into a wet weather test to try and improve the set-up of his YZR-M1 in rain conditions.

Spies was content to seek sanctuary in the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team garage for the opening quarter of the session, the Texan only making a brief appearance on track in session dominated by a fierce and unpredictable wind blowing off the nearby Bass Strait.

Spies, who won one race at the 2009 Phillip Island World Superb ike round, completed just three laps before he decided to call it day, the Texan preferring to wait for improved conditions forecast for tomorrow’s final practice and qualifying.

Colin Edwards – Position: 8th Time: 1’43.013 Laps: 19
“That’s got to be some of the worst conditions you’ll ever have to ride in. The track was still wet, it was freezing cold and the wind was blowing at 900mph. But after the delay I guess we were just lucky to even get some time on track. The wind was pretty unpredictable and going into the first corner it was unbelievable. Once you pass the finish line it just blasts you from the right and I had to turn my handlebars while I’m going in a straight line just to fight the wind. And then you have to turn the handlebars back to brake. That is all happening at a fast speed and it is a pretty weird sensation. It was a session where the times don’t really matter that much so w e treated it like a wet test. We played around with all kinds of stuff on the bike. So as miserable as the conditions were, it was still a pretty worthwhile session and we learned a few things that can help us in the rain in the future, particularly with the balance of the bike.”

Ben Spies – Time: 1’58.613 Laps: 3
“There wasn’t a lot to be gained out there today. I did a couple of laps and it is not the rain and the cold, but the wind was so unpredictable it was making it quite dangerous. I couldn’t really brake on the right line and to gain anything out there this afternoon I’d have to ride so on the limit that it wasn’t worth taking any risks. If it was Saturday morning and it was going to be like this all day I’d have stuck in a full session, but I wasn’t going to learn much when the conditions are that bad. I didn’t want to risk getting hurt or tearing up any equipment and making the guys have to build up a new bike for tomorrow just because I made a mistake in less than ideal conditions. Hopefully the weather will be better tomorrow and we can get some serious work done because I love this track and am confident of another strong performance in the race.”

Circuit Length: 4445
Weather: Wet

Lap Record: 1’30.332 (Marco Melandri, 01/01/2005)
Fastest Lap Ever: 1’28.665 (Casey Stoner, 05/10/2008)
Last Years Winner: Casey Stoner

2010 MotoGP Australia – Phillip Island 15/10/2010

Free Practice

Pos. Rider Manu. Nat. Total Time
1 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’41.146
2 Casey Stoner Ducati AUS 1’41.480
3 Nicky Hayden Ducati USA 1’41.631
4 Marco Simoncelli Honda ITA 1’41.881
5 Marco Melandri Honda ITA 1’41.982
6 Andrea Dovizioso Honda ITA 1’42.271
7 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 1’42.626
8 Colin Edwards Yamaha USA 1’43.013
9 Randy De Puniet Honda FRA 1’43.476
10 Loris Capirossi Suzuki ITA 1’43.984
11 Mika Kallio Ducati FIN 1’44.179
12 Hiroshi Aoyama Honda JPN 1’44.704
13 Hector Barbera Ducati ESP 1’45.695
14 Alvaro Bautista Suzuki ESP 1’46.160
15 Aleix Espargaro Ducati ESP 1’48.127


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