2010 Australian MotoGP Friday Practice Results-Lorenzo Fastest

Fiat Yamaha's Jorge Lorenzo fastest in wet, windy Friday practice at Phillip Island.

Jorge Lorenzo

PHILLIP ISLAND, AUSTRALIA, OCT 15 – The first day of practice for Sunday’s Australian Grand Prix was nearly a waste of time.

That was the view of Ducati Marlboro’s Casey Stoner after the winner of the past three races here on Phillip Island finished the delayed practice session second fastest to Fiat Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo.

Weather was the culprit. No track on the calendar has less predictable weather than Phillip Island and today the island was at its quirky worst. Overnight rains, which continued deep into the morning, flooded the track, forcing the start of practice to be delayed by two hours. That moved it late into the afternoon when the temperature dropped and the winds picked up. It added up to a track that started wet, got drier then windier, which contributed to the early demise of the soft Bridgestone rain tires. And the forecast for the rest of the weekend, or at least Saturday, is similar.

“They were very extreme,” recently crowned MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo said of the conditions after setting Friday’s fast time.” It has been very cold, raining and windy and it made it difficult for everyone.” When asked if it was dangerous, he replied, “Yes a little bit.”

“The wind is very bad and the conditions change every lap. Also because if you make a mistake and you go outside the track, it is difficult to stop the bike because you slide a lot with the wet grass. It is very difficult but mainly on the main straight. Before the last corner it pushes the front a lot and also when you exit the first slow corner. That is where I don’t have a good feeling with the wind.”

The weather has always been a problem, but this year it seems worse than most. And Lorenzo joined the growing chorus of voices calling for a change of date.

“Yes, without any doubt they need to look at this,” the Spaniard said. “Nobody likes the cold, so please change the date of the race.”

“The conditions were pretty bad,” Stoner agreed. “The beginning of the session it was wet and very windy, so it was hard to get any feeling. As the session went on it dried so quickly because of that wind, and just gave us no consistency because we would change the bike and when we come back out the conditions would be different to what we tested in before. So every time we went out the track was just throwing something different at us. and yeah, it was pretty much impossible to get a good direction.”

He added, “I mean, honestly the last ten minutes was a waste of time even being out there. You wouldn’t learn anything. All you would do is destroy a set of tires which I can still use. As it could be a wet weekend and some conditions like this, you destroy a set every session, nobody’s going to have any left for the race. So personally I think it’s a bit better to save a set of tires rather than destroy it.”

Teammate Nicky Hayden was third fastest after surviving the windiest conditions of the year. The wind was so bad in the first turn, Doohan Corner, that it could knock him eight feet off line.

“I mean the wind, for me, personally was brutal, especially in the beginning,” Hayden said. “So fast around here. The wind was making it really, really tough. But first run didn’t go too great, but we came in put in some different springs in and changed the position a little bit and was able to get it to steer better and keep the weight on the front so the wind wasn’t bothering me and got into a pretty decent rhythm right before the track kinda dried out too much for the wet tires.”

The conditions were so bad that Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Ben Spies only did three laps, then changed into his street clothes.

“There wasn't a lot to be gained out there today,” he said. “I did a couple of laps and it is not the rain and the cold, but the wind was so unpredictable it was making it quite dangerous. I couldn't really brake on the right line and to gain anything out there this afternoon I'd have to ride so on the limit that it wasn't worth taking any risks. If it was Saturday morning and it was going to be like this all day I'd have stuck in a full session, but I wasn't going to learn much when the conditions are that bad. I didn't want to risk getting hurt or tearing up any equipment and making the guys have to build up a new bike for tomorrow just because I made a mistake in less than ideal conditions. Hopefully the weather will be better tomorrow and we can get some serious work done because I love this track and am confident of another strong performance in the race."

Teammate Colin Edwards finished the day eighth fastest, just behind Valentino Rossi (Fiat Yamaha). Edwards’ last lap was his fastest as the track dried out.

“That's got to be some of the worst conditions you'll ever have to ride in,” Edwards said. “The track was still wet, it was freezing cold and the wind was blowing at 900mph. But after the delay I guess we were just lucky to even get some time on track. The wind was pretty unpredictable and going into the first corner it was unbelievable. Once you pass the finish line it just blasts you from the right and I had to turn my handlebars while I'm going in a straight line just to fight the wind. And then you have to turn the handlebars back to brake. That is all happening at a fast speed and it is a pretty weird sensation. It was a session where the times don't really matter that much so we treated it like a wet test. We played around with all kinds of stuff on the bike. So as miserable as the conditions were, it was still a pretty worthwhile session and we learned a few things that can help us in the rain in the future, particularly with the balance of the bike."

Rossi was also bothered by the weather, but more so by the pain in his right shoulder. This was the third of three races on consecutive weekends and the wear and tear was beginning to show.

“I have some pain with the shoulder,” Rossi said. “It looks like it is a bit tired and I feel pain when I ride the bike a little bit. I think I’m paying now for three races in a row but with a good setting I can be stronger than this result.” He added, “I suffer more pain with the cold.”

Repsol Honda’s Andrea Dovizioso was one spot ahead of Rossi. His teammate, Dani Pedrosa, did a total of seven laps to test his surgically repaired left collarbone. The results were mixed, but generally encouraging.

“What I can say is that I had some strength to move on the bike and put pressure on the handlebars which is good,” Pedrosa said.

“However, I didn’t feel very comfortable with the leathers because they were tight and there was pressure - but even with that I could do some laps and tomorrow I will try again - we will go step-by-step.

“Now it’s quite painful but we will see how the pain goes through the night and tomorrow we will take another step. We knew it wouldn’t be easy but I just hope that the effort is worth it in the end. To ride in wet conditions is more smooth than in the dry, but also more risky.”

MotoGP Friday Practice Results:

1. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Yamaha 1:41.146

2. Casey Stoner (AUS) Ducati 1:41.480

3. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati 1:41.631

4. Marco Simoncelli (ITA) Honda 1:41.881

5. Marco Melandri (ITA) Honda 1:41.982

6. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Honda 1:42.271

7. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha 1:42.626

8. Colin Edwards (USA) Yamaha 1:43.013

9. Randy de Puniet (FRA) Honda 1:43.476

10. Loris Capirossi (ITA) Suzuki 1:43.984

11. Mika Kallio (FIN) Ducati 1:44.179

12. Hector Barbera (SPA) Ducati 1:45.695

13. Hiroshi Aoyama (JAP) Honda 1:45.736

14. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Suzuki 1:46.160

15. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) Ducati 1:48.127

16. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Honda 1:51.210

17. Ben Spies (USA) Yamaha 1:58.613