Blame it on the Bass Strait. The weather, or perhaps more accurately, the weather, the climate, and the environment, has a huge effect on the Phillip Island circuit.
The weather, because the strong winds which blow in off the Strait brings regular dowsings of rain. The climate, because the hot summers, cool winters and wet weather places a severe strain on the asphalt. And the environment, because the sea breeze brings in salt, and the Antarctic ozone hole means UV levels are high, both of which have a corrosive effect on the circuit surface.
Perched on top of cliffs overlooking the Bass Strait is a stunning setting for a race track, but the Phillip Island circuit pays a heavy price for the privilege.
All of those factors have combined this year to throw the Australian round of MotoGP a curveball, or to make it more colloquially accurate, bowled MotoGP a googly.
The weather at Phillip Island was at its most deceptive, relatively warm and sunny, but with clouds bearing quick showers blowing in at regular intervals.
No class would escape the tricky conditions, though some were more badly affected than others, Moto3 losing the first half of FP2 to the wet.
Jorge Lorenzo was fastest in FP1 and was just 0.05 seconds behind Marc Marquez in FP2.
An excellent day for Maverick Vinales who finished with the third fastest time.
Marc Marquez was quickest on Day 1 at Phillip Island but only just from Jorge Lorenzo.
Thursday Summary at Phillip Island: On the Yamaha Rivalry, Bridgestone’s Solution, & Bastianini’s Future
Is the strain of the championship starting to take its toll on the relationship between the two Movistar Yamaha riders? It was all Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo could do to roll their eyes when they were asked this question during the press conference.
They get asked it a lot: in just about every press conference at which they are together, in their media debriefs after every day of practice, and presumably, in just about every TV and media interview.
Valentino Rossi had armed himself with a quip to deflect the question. “We are very happy about your interest,” he joked. “We have a diary about our relationship, which we will keep secret until the last race.”
It is a shame he was only joking. There is no doubt that a diary, especially a video diary, following Rossi and Lorenzo behind the scenes through this season would have made compelling reading or viewing.
Phillip Island, like Mugello, is one of the tracks which any motorcycle racer worth their salt puts at the very top of their list of favorite tracks. And rightly so: swooping over gently undulating ground sitting atop cliffs overlooking a bay on the Bass Strait, it is perhaps the greatest of the natural race tracks.
It has everything a race track should have: a collection of fast, sweeping corners which richly reward bravery; a couple of hard braking corners fast and slow at which to overtake; a superb and treacherous combination of turns in Lukey Heights and MG at which to make a last ditch passing attempt, and a long enough run to the finish line to make drafting a possibility.
Add in arguably the most breathtaking setting on the calendar, and you have just about everything.
There is a famous quote, often attributed to Ernest Hemingway, that says “there are only three sports: motor-racing, bull-fighting, and mountaineering. The rest are just games.” Watching and shooting the season opener of World Superbikes track-side at Phillip Island, I couldn’t agree more.
Jonny Rea, Leon Haslam, and Chaz Davies put on a show that rose and fell like the crescnedos in a beautiful piece of music. It was more than just racing, it was a race that had a heart and a beat. Emotional just about starts to describe it. It was a privilege to capture some of the action. Hope you enjoy the images.
Australian World Superbike fans are in for a very special treat this weekend, as Troy Bayliss is confirmed to be Davide Giugliano’s replacement at the WSBK season-opener at Phillip Island, after the Italian fractured two vertebrae during a crash earlier this week.
Ducati Corse initially did not plan to replace Giugliano at the Australian round, but instead the Italian company decided to fullfill every Aussie racing fan’s wet dream, and put the former WSBK Champion on the seat of the Ducati 1199 Panigale RS15.
The move comes after Troy Bayliss requested to ride at the Australian event, which is the 25th anniversary of World Superbikes at Phillip Island.
Bad news for Ducati Corse WSBK fans, as Davide Giugliano has been confirmed to miss the World Superbike opening round at Phillip Island this weekend.
The news comes as a result of the Italian fracturing his L1 and L2 vertebrae in a crash at Turn 11 on the Australian track during a testing session.
The news is especially unfortunate as Giugliano had shown good pace on the Ducati Panigale RS15 through-out testing, and the Italian has shown that Phillip Island is one of the tracks he excels at in racing conditions.
After only three days at home following the Aragon weekend, I was packing my suitcase again and leaving for Australia. The race was still over two weeks away, but I was going for a holiday in Australia with Clare first.
I’ve been to Australia a few times. Clare has family in Sydney and spent some time traveling when she finished university, but on our previous visits neither of us had been to Queensland.
After some deliberation we decided on some time in Brisbane and Cairns before driving to Port Douglas. Port Douglas being a perfect base to visit the Great Barrier Reef and the Daintree Rainforest.
Once again, a MotoGP race at Phillip Island is decided by tires. The tires Bridgestone brought to the Australian circuit were not up to the task, with riders crashing out all throughout the race. The front tires Bridgestone brought to the track were unable to cope with the conditions. The result was determined by tires, not by talent.
That, at least, is the narrative being heard around the internet after the bizarre yet fascinating MotoGP race at Phillip Island. It is an attractive narrative – a nice, simple explanation for what happened in Australia – but it is fundamentally flawed.
The tire situation was complicated, certainly. Jorge Lorenzo’s front tire showed very severe degradation, more than would normally be explained by the expect wear. Several riders crashed out on the asymmetric front tire Bridgestone brought. But to lay the blame entirely on Bridgestone is quite wrong.