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Positive Pace for Yamaha in Phillip Island Practice Sessions

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Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo has made a flying start to this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix, completing the first day of free practice as the second fastest rider. Championship standings leader Valentino Rossi also came out fighting at the Phillip Island circuit in the morning session and followed it up by taking ninth position in the afternoon.

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi made their first laps around the Phillip Island circuit today during the first free practice sessions of this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.

Fully committed to his goal to decrease the 18-point gap to Rossi in the championship standings, Lorenzo seamlessly continued the impressive pace he displayed at the two previous Grand Prix. Despite a stiff breeze and a consistent drizzle, he was soon on the pace and took over first place in the final twelve minutes, setting a best time of 1’30.047s. The session was brought to a premature end when rain picked up seven minutes later, allowing the Spaniard to hold first place with a comfortable 0.348s margin over his closest rival.

Lorenzo continued his form in the dry afternoon session and it only took him five laps to post a time of 1’30.144s and shoot to the top of the provisional ranking order. He spent what was left of the 45-minute session testing the asymmetrical tyre and held onto the lead for most of the second free practice, before the times started to drop in the last minutes. Lorenzo responded by dipping under the 1’30 mark, posting a strong 1’29.433s lap to take second place.

Fully aware that every session is crucial when to trying to maintain the lead in the championship, teammate Rossi also wasn’t shy to show his riding skills in the damp morning session. He steadily upped his pace to briefly move up to second position at the mid-way stage of FP1 with a 1’31.103s lap. He continued to better his time by more than half a second to a 1’30.572s lap as the session progressed and finished in third place.

In the sunnier afternoon session, the Doctor further upped his pace and initially topped the leaderboard when he dropped a low 1’31 lap, which he soon improved to a 1’30.557. While Rossi tested the asymmetrical tyre, the pace of the field increased. The Italian answered by setting a low 1’30 to slot into second place just 0.058s behind his teammate. He went on to further better his best time to a 1’30.041, but it wasn’t enough from him to hold his position and he fell back to ninth place.

Jorge Lorenzo
2nd / 1’29.433 / 30 laps

“We have tried some settings, but in general we have a good basis. The track is very slippery, it’s a lot worse than it was two years ago and last year. It’s bumpier as well, but that’s the same for all the riders. Our pace is very good, we just need to improve the acceleration a bit and some other details for tomorrow.”

Valentino Rossi
8th / 1’30.041 / 36 laps

“The feeling was not so bad, especially my pace this afternoon was quite good and also with a used tyre I was able to do some good lap times. I was not strong enough doing a hot lap on new tyres but at the same time we tried the asymmetric front tyre that everybody used and the feeling was not so bad. We have to work a little bit on the bike, but it’s OK. We will wait for the good conditions tomorrow and will try to work on improving in some places and try to be stronger.”

Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director

“Today was a positive but tricky start to the race weekend, because of the difficult weather conditions. Jorge and Vale both managed to kick off the first free practice sessions well despite the slight bit of rain. Jorge had his usual start to the weekend and has been very fast and consistent in both sessions. Vale also had a good pace in both the morning and the afternoon session, even though he hasn’t dropped under the 1’30 yet. The feelings of the riders have been good overall, so we can be satisfied with the work we delivered today and we’ll keep working hard tonight to get back on track even stronger tomorrow.”

Smith gets the battle underway at Phillip Island

Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team rider Bradley Smith undertook a solid start to proceedings at the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix and completed today in 8th position as he took the initial steps in preparing for the 27 lap race on Sunday. The day kicked off with mixed weather conditions at the spectacular Phillip Island circuit as strong winds blew and small spots of rain fell throughout the session. Despite this, Bradley Smith powered through and started adjusting the setting of his Yamaha YZR-M1 at the circuit where he claimed his maiden MotoGP podium last season. By the close of FP1, he had posted a best time of 1’30.902 which left him in 7th. In the afternoon, the weather conditions improved and Smith got straight back to work as he looked to lower his lap time. The 24 year old progressed as he made consistent steps forward before finally speeding to a best time of 1’30.032 on his final lap out of 20, which saw him close the day in 8th overall. His performance was only six tenths of a second back from the top time and leaves the Briton confident of repeating his strong qualifying position from last year where he began the race from the head of the second row.

On the opposite side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team garage, Pol Espargaro experienced a challenging first day at the fast Phillip Island circuit and completed the combined sessions in 15th in what was a fiercely contested start to the weekend. The 24 year old rider leapt into action as soon as the opening practice began and he started his work with the team to get the bike ready for the round 16 fight on Sunday. He set his personal best of 1’31.111 on his 10th out of 18 and concluded FP1 in 9th. Then, when the afternoon session commenced, Espargaro continued his efforts as he tried different setup options on his Yamaha YZR-M1 in order to improve corner entry and amend the lack of rear grip he was experiencing. He tirelessly completed 20 laps around the 4.4 kilometre Phillip Island circuit with his best time being a 1’30.552. The end result saw him finish in 15th yet only half a second back from his teammate. The Spanish youngster now focuses on tomorrow where he will aim to fight to a solid grid position in the vital qualifying session.

Bradley Smith
8th / 1’30.032 / 37 laps

“It’s great to be back at this superb circuit and overall, it has been a quite positive opening day of action. First thing is first though, the nature of this track is very fast so this morning was a massive wake up call because when you go into corners like the first and the third, as well as the back straight, it takes your breath away! It’s exciting to ride but it certainly awakens you even more at 10 in the morning! It took me a bit of time to adapt to this, but in the afternoon I got up to speed. We really focused on trying to improve my performance in the last sector of the track in FP2 as I believe that it will be very important to remain consistent in this area in the race. However, we are still struggling there a little bit, but we’ll continue our work on this tomorrow as we aim to find some more stability and grip. In any case, we are not too far from the front, which is positive especially considering that we had a few difficulties, so I’m convinced we’ll have a good base to start from tomorrow. So I look forward to jumping back on the Yamaha again and then clinching a good grid position for Sunday’s race.”

Pol Espargaro
15th / 1’30.552 / 38 laps

“Unfortunately, the opening to this race has been anything but easy. After what was a disappointing Japanese GP, we decided to make some changes to the bike and use this Friday as a kind of test day. It goes without saying that today’s weather really didn’t help us to complete our schedule, but in FP2 we were able to at least partly try want we wanted to. There are some positives as I have improved a little bit in some areas such as entering in the corners. However, I still have a lack of grip and that causes a lot of spinning, so it’s a struggle to keep the right line. In addition, I also tried to change my riding style almost every lap in order to try and understand more about how the bike was working. Obviously, the position is a long way from where I want to be, especially at this track which I love and where I have always been fast. Still, I believe that these tests were necessary as well as helpful and besides, I know how to ride fast at Phillip Island. Now we’ll analyse today’s data in order to try to find something for FP3 so that we can have the best bike possible for the rest of the GP.”

Difficult start for Forward Racing at Phillip Island

At the end of a first day of hard work, where they have suffered the uncertain weather conditions, Toni Elias and Loris Baz closed the free practice sessions respectively in 22nd and 23rd position in the standings.

After a first session characterized by the rain and the strong wind, in the afternoon with dry conditions, Toni Elias scored a best lap time of 1’32.122 which earned him the 22nd place. Despite the strong spinning he suffered today, the Spaniard remains confident for the qualifying.

Complicated day also for Loris Baz. The Frenchman was not able to find the right feeling on the demanding Australian track and he is 23rd in the standings.

Toni Elias
22nd / 1’32.122 / 35 laps

“I am not completely happy with the steps I made today. I tried some different solutions, but I suffered a lot of spinning and I could not push as I wanted. I’m not far from the others, the pace is good and I am convinced I can do something good tomorrow.”

Loris Baz
23rd / 1’32.309 / 31 laps

“It was not the start I expected. The weather was not on our side, especially in the first session, and I struggled a lot. I tried two different settings, but I did not find the feeling I was looking for. The goal for tomorrow is closing the gap with the other Open bikes.”

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