AusTest Day 1: Marc Marquez sets the marker
Under more seasonable skies than have sometimes greeted the MotoGP™ paddock upon arrival for the race weekend at Phillip Island in October, the second Official Test of 2017 saw blue overhead but a stiff breeze keeping the grid from heading out straight away – with new Ducati Team arrival Jorge Lorenzo one of the first to get down to work. By the end of Day 1, it was compatriot Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) who topped the timesheets, as the Spaniard put in a 1:29.497.
There were some crashes for the field including Hector Barbera (Reale Esponsorama Racing) and Sam Lowes (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), and two Red Flags on Day 1. One saw animals on track cause a short stoppage, before a crash for Lowes at Turn 6 – rider ok – damaged the tyre barrier and necessitated some repair work.
The day’s fastest man, Marc Marquez, spent the day working with the engine specification chosen in Sepang alongside teammate Dani Pedrosa. The reigning Champion put in 68 laps and set his best on his 53rd. Pedrosa, who spent most of the day in P4 before a late charge from some others in the top ten, ended the first session in seventh on a 1:30.281, after 55 laps.
Movistar Yamaha MotoGP held second on the timesheets for most of the latter part of Day 1, first with Maverick Viñales after the Spaniard had led the way, and secondly with Valentino Rossi – who ended the day in P2 on a 1:29.683. The rider from Tavullia also saved a potential crash earlier in the session. Viñales, who did a best of 1:29.989 after 64 laps, didn’t better his time towards the end as his new teammate and Rossi’s compatriot Andrea Iannone did, moving down to P4.
Iannone shot up the timesheets for Team Suzuki Ecstar near the end of the day, taking third overall with a 1:29.926 after having spent much of the session outside the top ten. The “Maniac” completed 70 laps and set his fastest on number 68. Teammate and rookie Alex Rins did 66 laps as he gets to grips with MotoGP™, setting a best of 1:31.432.
LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow completed the top five with a 1:30.065. Putting in a late charge to move up, the Brit did 61 laps and set his fastest on his final effort. Crutchlow was another testing a version of the new specification engine for Honda, as well as Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Jack Miller. Miller did 82 laps of his home track with a best of 1:30.426 – impressively ending the day in the top ten in P9. Miller’s teammate Tito Rabat is not at the test following a crash at Sepang, but is hoping to return for the Qatar test.
Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) was another late charger as he moved up to end the session in sixth, just ahead of Pedrosa and fastest Ducati on Day 1. Putting in 87 laps as he gets used to life on his new GP17, the Italian also set his quickest lap on his last – a 1:30.262.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was the next Borgo Panigale machine, and the 2016 Malaysian GP winner ended the day in eighth with a 1:30.410. Charged with testing new parts and continuing the progress of the Desmosedici, “DesmoDovi” did 64 laps. New teammate Jorge Lorenzo continued his progress as he focuses instead on adaptation to the machine, spending much of the day in the top ten and one of the first out on track. The “Spartan” did 61 laps with a best of 1:30.631, just pushed down to P11 in the latter stages.
Completing the top ten was the fastest rookie of the day: Jonas Folger (Monster Yamaha Tech 3). Impressing once again after a solid debut in Sepang, the German posted a 1:30.578 and did 62 laps. Teammate Johann Zarco, reigning Moto2™ World Champion, did 80 laps with a best of 1:30.867 to go P15.
Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Team), Hector Barbera and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) completed that top fifteen, ahead of Zarco.
Red Bull KTM Racing continue their progress in MotoGP™ as they prepare for their full-time debut in Qatar, with Pol Espargaro putting in a 1:31.200 as the fastest Austrian machine on Day 1.
Action continues at Phillip Island on Thursday, with the grid eager to head back out and continue their 2017 preparations as lights out in Qatar begins to loom large.