Lorenzo quickest in Friday practice at Phillip Island
Jorge Lorenzo’s run of fine form continued on the opening day of the Australian Grand Prix as the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider was quickest overall in Friday practice at Phillip Island, his best lap time of 1’29.602 seeing him end the day 0.147 seconds clear of NGM Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro on combined times.
Lorenzo set the quickest lap time of the day in his first stint in the afternoon Free Practice 2 session using the combination of the medium compound rear slick and extra-soft compound front slick to head a tightly-packed field in which the top ten riders were split by just 0.7 seconds by the end of the day. Aleix Espargaro’s personal best lap time of 1’29.752 was set in the morning Free Practice 1 session, and this impressive lap time was still good enough to see him complete the first day as the second fastest rider. Third quickest today was Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez with a personal best lap time of 1’29.752, just 0.150 seconds behind Lorenzo.
Conditions on the first day of practice at Phillip Island were sunny, yet a cool breeze kept track temperatures to a moderate level with a peak track temperature recording of 40°C at the start of FP2. With the unbalanced track layout and cool breeze being a known hazard at the Phillip Island circuit, for the morning FP1 session the riders almost exclusively used the extra-soft front slick in combination with the softer rear slick options; medium compound for the Factory Honda and Yamaha riders and soft compound for the Ducati and Open-class riders. The warmer temperatures in the afternoon saw a more diverse choice of front slicks being used with the symmetric and asymmetric soft compound front slicks being used, along with the extra-soft front. Rear tire choice in the afternoon still saw a strong preference for the softer rear slicks, although some riders also evaluated the harder option rear slicks in FP2.
Warmer temperatures are forecast for tomorrow, with the next MotoGP session being Free Practice 3 at 1055 local time (GMT +11).
Shinji Aoki - Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport tire Development Department
“Today was the first chance for riders to try our new tire specifications for Phillip Island and despite a few incidents during the day, the results were positive with strong, consistent performance and good durability. However, as we saw the challenging layout and temperature conditions at Phillip Island still caught some riders out. All six of our slick tire options we brought this weekend were evaluated today, so the teams and riders now have a good amount of data to work with for tomorrow’s qualifying sessions and race simulations. An encouraging outcome for us today was the feedback we received on our brand new soft compound asymmetric front slick. The riders reported that the braking performance of this option was the same as our conventional, symmetric soft front slick but with better grip and warm-up performance in cool conditions which was our development target for this tire. The top twelve riders were split by just one second on combined times today which shows our new tire specifications are working well for all manufacturers, and I hope that this trend of close racing continues for the rest of the weekend.”