Marquez tops MotoGP Friday practice at Phillip Island
Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez was the quickest rider in today’s practice sessions at the Phillip Island circuit, the reigning MotoGP World Champion setting a time of 1'29.383 to lead a tightly-packed field on the opening day of action at the Australian Grand Prix.
Marquez set his benchmark time on his seventeenth lap of the afternoon’s Free Practice 2 session to end the day a mere 0.050 seconds ahead of Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Jorge Lorenzo, whose personal best time of 1’29.433 ensured he was second quickest on combined times today. Less than a tenth of a second behind Lorenzo on the timesheets was Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Maverick Viñales, the MotoGP rookie setting an astounding time of 1’29.518 to finish the day third quickest. All of the three quickest riders set their time using the asymmetric front slick, but while Marquez and Lorenzo used the medium compound rear slick to set their quickest time, Viñales used the soft compound rear slick for his time attack.
Today’s weather conditions were typical for Phillip Island at this time of year; cool, windy and with the occasional period of rain. A change in the afternoon brought prolonged periods of sunshine which helped the track temperature reach a peak of 35°C towards the end of FP2. The cool temperatures and strong breeze in the morning FP1 session resulted in all riders solely using the extra-soft front slick – the softest tire in Bridgestone’s allocation – for the first session of the weekend, paired with the softer option rear slicks. The more favorable conditions in the afternoon saw a large shift in front tire preference to the asymmetric front slick - which Bridgestone developed specifically to meet the demands of the Phillip Island circuit – and the rider feedback indicates that this option provided excellent braking feel and cornering stability. The soft and medium compound rear slicks were used throughout the day as although track temperatures did increase in the afternoon, they didn’t reach a high enough level to make the hard compound rear slick a viable option for the factory Honda and Yamaha riders.
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tire Development Department
“We often experience variable weather at Phillip Island and today was no exception, with a cool and windy start to the day followed by sunny and fine conditions in the afternoon. The changeable conditions are one factor which makes Phillip Island so challenging for tire development, but today the pace was good and we had no crashes so I am happy with how our tire allocation performed. The riders chose the softest slick options available to them in the cool FP1 session this morning, but in the warmer conditions this afternoon, many riders chose to evaluate our new asymmetric front slick and we received plenty of good feedback on this option and we expect it to be heavily utilized over the rest of the weekend. For the rear tire, the soft and medium compound options proved to be quite consistent which is an important requirement at this circuit and we expect the riders to focus on using these two specifications for the race. Track temperatures didn’t reach a high enough level to make the hard compound rear slick a viable option for the factory Honda and Yamaha riders and with even cooler conditions being forecast, this option may remain unused this weekend. It was a good start to the weekend for Bridgestone and we hope to continue in the same vain in tomorrow’s practice and qualifying sessions.”