Stoner sets pace on opening day in Australia
Casey Stoner got his home Grand Prix off to a great start today, heading the timesheets in both free practice sessions aboard his Repsol Honda machine. As the conditions changed between the two sessions, Stoner’s best lap actually came in the morning’s session, as it did for half of the riders in the top ten, and was just 0.4seconds off the lap record.
The weather conditions at Phillip Island this year are much better than they were last season with blue skies, only moderate wind and a track temperature of 38 degrees Celsius in the morning, rising to 42 for the afternoon session as opposed a Friday high of just 12 degrees Celsius in 2010.
Stoner set his best lap using the softer front and harder option rear slicks. With only one point of heavy braking in a lap, the front tyres have a relatively easy time at Phillip Island, as do the right shoulders of the rears, but it’s a different story for the left side of the rear tyres. Thanks largely to the last two corners, the left shoulders reach the highest tyre temperature of the season, requiring a special construction designed to cope with the heat, and hence it was the harder option rear that was favoured by most riders for its added durability.
Despite a good forecast for the rest of the weekend, the weather can be fickle on Phillip Island. MotoGP running resumes tomorrow with the final free practice session in the morning followed by an hour of qualifying at 1455 local time.
Hirohide Hamashima – Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division
“The laptimes were generally faster this year than on the opening day last season but this is mainly due to the temperature and weather conditions which are much more favourable. We’re used to much colder and windier conditions here, and last year the track was 30 degrees Celsius cooler than we saw today. The circuit also seems more bumpy though which is having an adverse effect. Most riders, including Casey, went faster in the morning when the track temperature was a little lower and the softer rear was favoured. In terms of tyre choice, the softer rear was favoured in the morning but as the temperature rose most used the harder rear in the afternoon. Front tyre was more mixed as Casey was fastest on the softer option, whereas Jorge recorded his best on the harder. We have gone one step softer with the rear tyres this year, but even with the increase in temperature I am satisfied with our compound allocation this weekend and we can see that all options have been used well on this opening day.”