Aussie Rains Halt Phillip Island MotoGP Practice (Photo Gallery)

Aussie Rains Halt Phillip Island MotoGP Practice; Crutchlow Leads
Honda’s Cal Crutchlow leads Honda’s Nicky Hayden

Talks of inclement weather highlighted Thursday’s Australian MotoGP press conference at Phillip Island, and the rains came crashing through Friday for the opening day of practice.

The torrential downpours caused a red flag in the second free practice, canceling the remainder of the session. Not many riders got in full sessions during the wet morning practice and cut second practice, creating the need to move everything up an hour Saturday to maximize track time for riders.n Before the second free practice (FP2) was canceled, only six riders registered times—all about 10 seconds off the first free practice (FP1) times.

The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP duo of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo finished in 20th and 19th, respectively. The reasons? Rossi was penalized for using Michelin wet tires for more laps than permissible, which deleted his rain lap times from the results. As for Lorenzo, he didn’t complete much track time.

Valentino Rossi at Phillip Island MotoGP Practice 2016
Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi
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Leading the way was LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow, who won his first MotoGP this year during a wet Czech Republic GP at Brno. Crutchlow posted a best time of 1:40.957 in the opening session, finishing 0.053 of a second ahead of Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci and 0.500 of a second ahead of local hero Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda), who also won a race this year at a wet Assen MotoGP.

Before the penalty, Rossi would have finished fourth quickest, but this time went to the man who was crowned 2016 MotoGP Champion at Motegi last week, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez. He was 0.554 of a second off the pace, and finished just ahead of Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso.

Rounding out the top 10 were Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Maverick Vinales, Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Pol Espargaro, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista, Dani Pedrosa’s replacement Nicky Hayden on the Repsol Honda RC213V, and the other factory Aprilia pilot, Stefan Bradl.

MotoGP says that the top 10 from FP1 now stand to graduate directly to the Q2 qualifying session if FP3 sees conditions cause problems once again on Saturday, with the big news the prospect of Movistar Yamaha MotoGP teammates Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo being forced into Q1.

Photos by Luciano Bianchetto

2016 Phillip Island MotoGP Free Practice Friday | Photo Gallery