Octo Pramac Yakhnich’s Danilo Petrucci topped the opening MotoGP pre-season test session at Phillip Island, a day largely spoiled by poor, fluctuating weather and track conditions. Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Maverick Vinales grabbed the number-two spot followed by Tech 3 Yamaha’s Bradley Smith in third.
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez making the most of a difficult day at Phillip Island.
At the start of the day, riders faced grey skies and a wet track so many decided to test the capabilities of Michelin’s wet tire option and experiment with electronics settings. Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa was first out of the gate, logging 15 laps before conditions began to change.
“When I saw that the track was completely wet I decided to go out, because at this track you never usually have these conditions (at Phillip Island), due to the strong wind that always dries the asphalt quickly,” explained Pedrosa in a team press release. “The feeling was good and it was a positive run, because I did a few laps in these different conditions to test the bike, electronics and tires at the same time.”
LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow set off early too in hopes of learning more about the rain tires, but could only get in a handful of laps before the sun started to peek through and winds picked up, drying portions of the track.
Movistar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo logged the most laps of all in the wet conditions, putting in 22 rotations, then like the others he pulled into the garage once the weather began to turn. He would later attempt a run on slicks when the track dried in the afternoon, but only made it two times around the circuit before deciding to call it a day because of “very strange feelings” on the bike.
Pedrosa’s teammate, Marc Marqeuz, used the changing weather to try Michelin’s intermediate tire for a single lap , coming in afterward and saying “it’s hard to know when you should use them” in a team release. He was the only rider to experiment with the intermediate and he went out when the track was almost completely dry, having to come in when rains began to fall once again.
Danilo Petrucci put on slicks in the afternoon and set the fastest time of the day.
The uncertain weather continued until the final hours before a window of dry allowed a handful of riders to throw on slicks and take to the track. This is when Petrucci, Vinales, Smith and Petrucci’s teammate Scott Redding all set their best times.
“In the morning we could have run in the wet but the conditions were not the greatest,” said Petrucci. “We did only a few laps (12) but I’m pretty happy because we produced data to study. Basically we earned two runs to understand which direction to go with the bike.”
Smith was one of the most positive riders after the test, offering a different perspective in a Tech 3 release after the session ended.
“To be honest I’m quite pleased with how today went. It goes without saying that the weather interfered a bit, but it was actually quite positive because it meant that we could really focus on the small details whilst we were waiting for the rain to stop. The electronics take a lot of time to adjust, so having some big breaks due to the weather meant that we could do this and there was no stress or rushing. When I went out onto the track, we knew that we only had a handful of laps and I had to really concentrate so that we could narrow down the right choice of setting.”
Riders are hoping for more consistent weather on Thursday when the Phillip Island test continues.
2016 MotoGP Phillip Island Test Session 1 Results
1. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) 1’31.764
2. Maverick Vinales (Suzuki) 1’32.483
3. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 1’32.590
4. Scott Redding (Ducati) 1’32.864
5. Cal Crutchlow (Honda) 1’32.948
6. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1’33.088
7. Pol Espargaro (Yamaha) 1’33.126
8. Yonny Hernandez (Ducati) 1’33.841
9. Jack Miller (Honda) 1’33.992
10. Andrea Iannone (Ducati) 1’34.049
11. Tito Rabat (Honda) 1’35.273
12. Marc Marquez (Honda) 1’35.354
13. Aleix Espargaro (Suzuki) 1’35.584
14. Eugene Laverty (Ducati) 1’35.679
15. Takuya Tsuda (Suzuki) 1’36.166
16. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’39.825
17. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’40.138
18. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati)