Phillip Island Grand Prix
The opening practice session of the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island finally got under way Friday after a delay of almost two hours caused by heavy rain that was causing particular problems at turn eleven.
After great effort by the organisers and track staff, aided by the morning rain easing off, the rivulets of water flowing across the track were cleared and drained. By the time the MotoGP machines were on track, the rain had ceased and by the end of the hour-long session a dry line had appeared around most of the lap although high winds continued to batter the riders.
Still, for the first time since the Grand Prix of Aragon, all riders used Bridgestone’s wet tires for the duration of the session.
Conditions were very difficult for riders and tires as the track surface was slippery and the ambient temperature was the coldest of the season so far, but increasingly as the track dried tire temperatures rose in the left shoulder of the rear tires because of the demanding layout of Phillip Island which generates the highest rear tire temperatures of the year.
Newly-crowned World Champion Jorge Lorenzo was fastest followed by Casey Stoner and Ducati teammate Nicky Hayden. Marcos Simoncelli and Melandri of San Carlo Honda Gresini were fourth and fifth in a strong opening day for the team.
Dani Pedrosa completed seven laps in what was his first outing since his injury in Japan two weeks ago. As per the regulations, Bridgestone selected just one compound of wet tires for Phillip Island; the soft compound.
Tohru Ubukata (Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tire Development Department) says: “The conditions during the session were very difficult because the track was drying quite quickly and so the level of grip was always changing, and the temperature was very low.”
“In fact, the track was just nine degrees Celsius which is the coldest we’ve seen this season. Nevertheless, our wet tires worked well from the start of the session when it was fully wet until a dry line appeared.”
“All riders used just one set of wet tires for the whole session, and some were still improving their laptimes right until the end including Marco Melandri, Valentino and Colin. I am happy with durability as our wet tyres have shown they can cope with conditions from full wet to a dry line, and even with the cold temperature warm-up performance and grip were good.”