The warm and muggy temperatures experienced just five days ago at the Malaysian Grand Prix have radically changed at the Australian Grand Prix.
The cold, rain and wind shared the limelight on the first day of free practice at Phillip Island with the rider action, out of which a consistent Marc Márquez – winner of the last two races – stood out, finishing the first day in second place.
The practice started two hours later than usual due to the large amount of rainfall during the hours prior to practice, flooding particularly the area of turn 11 of the Australian track. Until the circuit safety crew were able to prepare the track for riding, the organisers did not allow the riders to start.
In the end they did, accompanied by a strong wind whipping the Phillip Island Circuit, the track completely wet, still with light rain, ambient temperatures and with the asphalt at just 10 ºC.
Caution ruled in the Repsol rider’s team, only completing 15 laps of the Australian track, clocking up a time of 1 minute, 55 seconds and 472 milliseconds, nine tenths off the best time set by Bradley Smith.
Márquez was amongst the last to go out when the session began, preferring to see how the first few laps went for the other riders before taking to the track.
Taking maximum precautions at a decisive time for the final outcome of the Championship, where a minimal advantage of only 3 points over his immediate rival in the overall standings – Nico Terol – demands maximum concentration.
Marc Marquez says: “It’s been quite a difficult session, more than because of the wet – we overcame this by putting on grooved tires – because of the cold and rain which complicated the riding of the bike. The wind particularly affected certain points, where it pushed you and could have made you lose control of the front wheel.”
“In the end I think we completed a good session and started with a good set-up. Let’s see what the weather does tomorrow because they say that it might be changeable all weekend and it would be good to ride in the dry, although the important thing is that we have finished the practice without any falls and have shown that in wet conditions, we are still performing well.”
125cc Phillip Island Friday Practice Official Results:
1. Bradley SMITH (APRILIA) 1:54.547
2. Marc MÁRQUEZ (DERBI) 1:55.472
3. Danny KENT (LAMBRETTA) 1:55.655
4. Sandro CORTESE (DERBI) 1:55.683
5. Nicolás TEROL (APRILIA) 1:55.920