Felice Monteleone – FMPhotoSport MotoGP News
Pramac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, Free Practice Friday, October 16th 2015
Majestic Marquez sets the pace on opening day at Phillip Island
Marc Marquez ended Friday’s practice fastest ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and Maverick Viñales, with Valentino Rossi in ninth.
Repsol Honda’s Marquez had played second fiddle to Lorenzo in the morning’s damp FP1 session at the Pramac Australian Grand Prix. Then, as the track dried and the sun came out (Track temp. 35˚C) in the afternoon it was the reigning MotoGP™ World Champion who ended the day on top. Marquez set a 1’29.383 to finish just five-hundredths of a second ahead of Lorenzo on combined times, although he was still some way off the Pole Record set in 2014 (J. Lorenzo – 1’27.899).
Movistar Yamaha’s Lorenzo (+0.050s) began his bid at closing down the 18-point gap in the standings to his teammate Rossi by topping FP1, before having to settle for second overall. The Spaniard improved by over half a second in FP2 in a session that saw the top 13 riders separated by less than nine-tenths of a second.
Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Maverick Viñales recovered from crashing out of the race at Motegi to complete the top three and he was just 0.135s off the pace of Marquez. Viñales took advantage of the sweet handling of his GSX-RR to finish ahead of Andrea Iannone (+0.161s) on the Ducati Team GP15. The Italian is looking to bounce back strongly at Phillip Island after his first DNF of the season at the Japanese GP due to technical issues.
LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow (+0.196s) was the leading Satellite rider in fifth, as less than two tenths of second separated the top five riders.
Motegi race winner Dani Pedrosa (+0.493s) was further 0.297s back in sixth, ahead of Pramac Racing’s Danilo Petrucci and the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 of Bradley Smith in eighth.
Championship leader Rossi found himself down in ninth, 0.658s off the pace of Marquez, but the ‘Doctor’ did not switch to a fresh set of tyres at the end of FP2 like the majority of the riders. The Italian, who will equal the all-time record of 328 GP starts on Sunday, preferred instead to work on his pace on used tyres, instead of worrying about setting a flying lap.
Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) completed the top ten while Jack Miller (LCR Honda), who had earlier finished fifth during FP1, was the leading Open class rider in eleventh, just 0.057s ahead of Nicky Hayden (Aspar MotoGP Team) in 12th. It was announced on Friday after practice that Hayden would be inducted into the MotoGP™ Hall of Fame as a MotoGP™ Legend at the final round of the season in Valencia.
Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso struggled throughout the day, and found himself down in 14th, over a second off the pace of Pole man Marquez. Scott Redding (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) ended the day in 17th, ahead of Irishman Eugene Laverty (Aspar MotoGP Team) in 18th.
Karel Abraham’s replacement in the AB Motoracing Team, Anthony West, was 24th fastest. Damian Cudlin (E-Motion IodaRacing Team), who is substituting for the injured Alex De Angelis, was in 25th. Remarkably, despite the tricky conditions, there were no crashes throughout the whole day in any of the MotoGP™ sessions.
Check out the combined times from FP1 & FP2; FP3 starts at 10:00 local time on Saturday in Phillip Island.