Despite struggling with a bumpy track surface Casey Stoner had the fastest time in both sessions on Friday.
Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner started his home round in style by taking the fastest lap in both practice sessions at Phillip Island. The Australian looks on pace to claim his second MotoGP title after finishing Friday 0.377 seconds ahead of San Carlo Honda’s Marco Simoncelli, who suffered two crashes throughout the day. Meanwhile, Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo finished more than half a second off the pace of Stoner and remains the only rider standing between Stoner and his championship trophy this Sunday.
“I don’t feel totally comfortable with the bike today and I’m sure we can improve the bike a lot,” said Stoner. “The track is certainly a lot more bumpy than last year and I think it will be very difficult to get the bike feeling 100% as the circuit is making things worse. In general we’ve found the Honda is better in certain aspects than what we had last year but with these bumps it’s difficult to compare in other areas.”
Lorenzo’s teammate, Ben Spies, earned fourth in the timesheets and was the final rider within a second of the leader after making improvements on his Yamaha M1. The American was 0.384 seconds behind his teammate, followed by Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa. Currently only one point behind teammate Andrea Dovizioso, Pedrosa struggled with rear grip the entire day and was just 0.048 seconds behind Spies.
Marco Simoncelli is looking strong after rebounding from two crashes on Friday to finish runner-up in the timesheets.
“In the afternoon I struggled a lot with the rear grip, the bike was spinning a lot and we couldn’t fix it during the session,” said Pedrosa. “The fact that my lap times are practically the same in the morning and in the afternoon is a sign that something is not right. It’s a pity because maybe tomorrow the weather is not as nice as today, possibly colder, but I trust my team and I hope we can improve.”
San Carlo Honda’s Hiroshi Aoyama posted one of his strongest practices of the year to finish sixth in the charts. The Japanese rider was trailed by Frenchman Randy de Puniet, with Rizla Suzuki’s Alvaro Bautista seeing tremendous improvement during the day after he finished nearly two seconds faster than his qualifying lap at the circuit a year ago. Monster Yamaha Tech 3’ Colin Edwards was only 0.028 seconds behind, with Dovizioso rounding out the top-10 more than 1.290 seconds behind Stoner.
“It’s been a difficult first day of practice,” said Dovizioso. “The track has many more bumps than last year and it’s difficult to see them, maybe because the surface is very dark I don’t know, but I’ve been struggling to get a good feeling with the front.”
It was a tough start for Ducati teammates Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi, who finished the day 11th and 13th respectively as poor grip plagued both riders. Rossi is having trouble with persistent pain in his injured hand, which is negatively impacting his braking and corner entry ability.
“I wasn’t able to ride well today, in part due to the pain in my left pinky finger, which bothered me more than I expected, but especially because of the feeling with the bike,” Rossi said. “I’m not able to brake well or enter corners well.”
Jorge Lorenzo: “We know that Casey [Stoner] is very fast here but today he wasn’t so quick. We must try to win and if not possible fight for the podium on Sunday.”
Phillip Island MotoGP Practice Results 2011:
1. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1’30.535
2. Marco Simoncelli (Honda) 1’30.912
3. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’31.111
4. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1’31.495
5. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’31.543
6. Hiroshi Aoyama (Honda) 1’31.582
7. Randy de Puniet (Ducati) 1’31.670
8. Alvaro Bautista (Suzuki) 1’31.777
9. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1’31.805
10. Andrea Dovizioso (Honda) 1’31.825
11. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1’31.899
12. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1’31.969
13. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1’32.014
14. Loris Capirossi (Ducati) 1’32.082
15. Karel Abraham (Ducati) 1’32.360
JiR Moto2’s Alex de Angelis set the fastest pace during the second outing at Phillip Island on Friday. Speed Master’s Andrea Iannone was just a tenth behind, followed by Viessmann Kiefer Racing’s Stefan Bradl. While most of the field was able to improve on their morning times, Bradl was left shaken following his crash at the very end of the first session. Italtrans Racing’s Claudio Corti earned fourth in the charts just 0.020 seconds ahead of Marc VDS Racing Team’s Scott Redding.
Normal frontrunner Marc Marquez, who recently took over the lead in the Moto2 Championship, crashed twice during the first session. During Marquez’s second accident the Spaniard was handed a qualification penalty after Race Direction ruled he was riding irresponsibly when he collided into the back of Thai Honda Singha-SAG’s Ratthapark Wilairot. As a result Marquez will have a minute added to his best lap time in Saturday’s qualifying.
Marc Marquez (#93) was given a one-minute penalty for Saturday’s qualifying after running into the back of Ratthapark Wilairot.
Moto2 Phillip Island Practice Results 2011:
1. Alex de Angelis (Motobi) 1’34.466
2. Andrea Iannone (Suter) 1’34.568
3. Stefan Bradl (Kalex) 1’34.580
4. Claudio Corti (Suter) 1’34.600
5. Scott Redding (Suter) 1’34.783
6. Bradley Smith (Tech 3) 1’34.956
7. Mika Kallio (Suter) 1’34.964
8. Thomas Luthi (Suter) 1’34.969
9. Mattia Pasini (FTR) 1’34.984
10. Yuki Takahashi (Moriwaki) 1’35.124
11. Pol Espargaro (FTR) 1’35.181
12. Yonny Hernandez (FTR) 1’35.195
13. Anthony West (MZ-RE Honda) 1’35.245
14. Michele Pirro (Moriwaki) 1’35.248
15. Kenan Sofuoglu (Suter) 1’35.265