Will championships be decided tomorrow? The Moto3 title could well be settled after the race, a lot of bleary-eyed British fans clinging to their cappuccinos in a desperate attempt to stay awake. It won’t take much: Danny Kent just has to finish ahead of Enea Bastianini and higher than seventh to be sure.
The MotoGP title is still too close to be settled at Phillip Island, but tomorrow’s race could well turn out to be pivotal. If Valentino Rossi finishes ahead of Jorge Lorenzo, the Italian will have one hand on the MotoGP crown.
If Lorenzo finishes ahead of Rossi, and especially if he can put some bodies between himself and his Movistar Yamaha teammate, then the pendulum might finally start to swing back Lorenzo’s way.
Marc Marquez will start from pole position for tomorrow’s Australian Grand Prix.
A 2nd place start for Andrea Iannone on his ridiculous looking Ducati. What are the odds on Ducati picking up some sponsorship from a certain Austrian energy drink?
Jorge Lorenzo grabbed 3rd place on the grid with his final lap of qualifying.
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.