Demolition job: Viñales stakes an early claim on victory Down Under

2019-10-27 04:23
The 2018 winner puts himself in another postcode, Quartararo suffers a highside and Marquez is outside the top five as action opens in Australia

Friday, 25 October 2019
Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) ruled Day 1 at the Pramac Generac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, fastest in the wet and dry to make it double trouble for his rivals. By the end of play the only man within half a second of the Spaniard was Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), although Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) was only hundredths off joining the bracket as the Briton took third.

In classic Phillip Island style, Friday saw a few different seasons hit the circuit and it started with a wintery, rainy FP1. Viñales made short work of that from home hero Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) and reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), and once the sun was back out in the afternoon the 2018 winner repeated the feat, this time from Dovizioso and Crutchlow, who were split by just five thousandths.

Behind Viñales, hundredths and thousandths were the deciding margins in a tight top eight. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati Team) was just 0.002 behind Crutchlow, with local favourite Miller completing the top five after ending up 0.017 in further arrears. 0.077 was then the gap back to Marquez in P6, with the number 93 getting the better of Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) by just 0.015. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) made for close company in eighth as well, 0.036 off the 'The Doctor'.

Missing someone? By the time you get to the latter half of the top ten of late, there's a name that you expect to have read a while ago but it wasn't to be for Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) on Friday. The French rookie was putting together a solid performance for much of FP1 but disaster struck towards the end of the session as he suffered a highside and then headed for the Medical Centre. He was declared fit but to be reviewed before FP3, although the number 20 was sidelined for FP2 after the medication he was given. His left foot is the affected area but the key good news was that he's suffered no fractures in the crash. His teammate Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) flew the flag for the team on Friday, the Italian sixth in the wet and ninth overall after laptimes plummeted in the dry.

Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) completed the top ten after a solid outing for the Noale factory, the last man within a second of Viñales (and within half a second of everyone else). Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was 11th ahead of an impressive push from Karel Abraham (Reale Avintia Racing) in P12, with Andrea Iannone (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) in 13th.

Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) finished the day in 14th despite a crash, just 0.015 ahead of the returning Johann Zarco (LCR Honda Idemitsu). The Frenchman acquitted himself well on first contact with his machine for the next three races; 13th in FP1 in the wet and the second Honda behind, as could be expected, Marquez, but he did get the better of Crutchlow by hundredths and Lorenzo by a few tenths. In FP2 in the dry, the number 5 put it in 15th and only a second and a half off the top. Lorenzo was in hot pursuit in P16.

KTM had a solid start to the weekend in the wet as Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was ninth in FP1, just ahead of Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) by an apt 0.088. But the dry saw the Austrian factory slip down the order a little and they'll be looking for more on Saturday. Espargaro also suffered a big crash on Day 1, rider ok.

For the premier class, Saturday begins at 10:50 (GMT +11), before qualifying from 15:05 to decide the grid for the Pramac Generac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix. Will the rain return? Tune in to find out.
Friday's fastest:
1 - Maverick Viñales (SPA - Yamaha) 1'28.824
2 - Andrea Dovizioso (ITA - Ducati) +0.496
3 - Cal Crutchlow* (GBR - Honda) +0.501
4 - Danilo Petrucci (ITA - Ducati) +0.503
5 - Jack Miller* (AUS - Ducati) +0.520

*Independent Team rider

Dovizioso was second on Day 1

Crutchlow was top Independent Team rider and in the top three

In addition to the valuable data gathered, one of the key moments of the day took place during the Tyre Test Session (see below) as Marc Marquez pulled off another jaw-dropper of a save. The reigning Champion got 70 degrees of lean and somehow managed to stay upright!

Tyre Test Session
Given the improved conditions in the afternoon on Friday at Phillip Island, the planned Tyre Test Session was able to go ahead and initial reports were positive.

The session was to give Official MotoGP™ tyre supplier Michelin the opportunity to assess a new specification slick rear tyre at an especially demanding circuit for the rear. This latest evolution has a new construction designed to improve performance at all tracks and has already been tested at the Barcelona, Brno and Misano Tests with the aim of introducing it in 2020. The version that Michelin brought to Phillip Island is asymmetric with a harder left-hand side and features the existing compounds specifically designed to combat the huge stresses the tyres are placed under at the track.

Each rider had one rear tyre in the new specification available and each chose the soft compound. Riders were also given an extra front tyre of their preferred specification – soft, medium or hard – and were asked to do a minimum of 11 timed laps.
Martin keeps his momentum to top Day 1
It's a KTM kinda day on Friday at Phillip Island with four Austrian machines in the top five - and a few surprises outside it

Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) took his first Moto2™ podium last time out and the Spaniard picked up where he left off on Day 1 at the Pramac Generac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, this time topping the overall timesheets and with quite a margin. The rookie was 0.343 ahead of teammate Brad Binder by the end of play, with Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) completing the top three and the only non-KTM in the top five.

FP1 was wet and FP2 dry, but the same name was at the top: Martin. He led the first session ahead of fellow rookie Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) and a standout performance from Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Temporary Forward), but the dry conditions in FP2 shuffled the combined timesheets behind Martin. In the second session, Binder came to the fore followed by Navarro, with newly-announced 2020 Red Bull KTM Tech 3 MotoGP™ rider Iker Lecuona putting his American Racing machine into fourth overall.

Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) was another rookie who, like Martin, shone on Day 1 Down Under. The Italian was seventh in the wet and moved up to fifth in the dry, building on some solid progress of late to end the day ahead of Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team). Bulega was P7 overall ahead of Championship leader Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), who had a fairly solid day inside the top ten in both conditions, although a crash in the morning saw him pushing the bike back to pitlane.

Ninth overall went to a some impressive speed in the dry for Jesko Raffin (NTS RW Racing GP) as the Swiss rider pulled yet more pace at Phillip Island out the bag, ahead of an equally impressive result for Manzi completing the top ten. Raffin was also a protagonist in the most high-profile incident of the day in the intermediate class as he clashed with Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) or rather, vice versa. The Brit has been sent to the back of the grid for irresponsible riding.

Second in the Championship Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) had a lower profile day in P11 overall, with rookie Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) splitting him from fellow title hopeful Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) as the Spaniard took P13. They'll be looking for much more on Saturday but they're at least provisionally into Q2, along with the man in fourteenth: Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40). With the weather looking worse not better tomorrow, that could prove key.

Fabio Di Giannanontio (Beta Tools Speed Up) was a somewhat surprising name to end the day outside the cut as he was P15, ahead of Lowes in sixteenth. Both crashed. Home hero Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) likewise as the Aussie suffered a big one - rider ok but P19 overall. And last but not least, back-to-back winner Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) was down in P20, just ahead of Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP). Marini crashed in FP1 but was declared fit after get

Source: Dorna Sports

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