With conditions beginning difficult in Phillip Island and FP2 dawning even worse, Moto3™ times on Friday afternoon couldn’t improve on those set in FP1 and the lightweight class were the only one of the day to complete a full second practice session. With Sky Racing Team VR46 rookie Nicolo Bulega having tamed the track first, the Italian therefore remained top on combined timesheets by the end of the day as rain reigned Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit.
The Italian topped FP1 at the track despite his rookie status, with a cushion of more than four tenths above nearest rival Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold), and another rookie – Estrella Galicia 0,0 rider Aron Canet, who was the early leader. Antonelli was a big crasher of the day in FP2, but was unhurt in the incident as rates of attrition were high.
In the afternoon with harder rain, FP2 saw John McPhee (Peugeot MC Saxoprint) – Brno’s wet weather winner – rise to the top in the torrential conditions, with the Scotsman leading Tatsuki Suzuki (CIP-Unicom Starker) and two-time wet race winner Khairul Idham Pawi (Honda Team Asia). Pawi had a more difficult FP1, before bouncing back in the tougher conditions of FP2 to get in with the frontrunners – but is left much lower down on combined times.
It was a positive day for RBA Racing Team as action opened in Australia, as Gabriel Rodrigo and Juanfran Guevara completed the top five in the afternoon. Rodrigo was also quick in the slightly easier conditions in FP1, taking P4 on combined times.
Behind Rodrigo on the combined timesheets were Andrea Migno (Sky Racing Team VR46), Suzuki, Andrea Locatelli (Leopard Racing), Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing Moto3), Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Livio Loi (RW Racing GP BV).
Freshly crowned Moto3™ World Champion Brad Binder – who had an incredible save in FP1 as his Red Bull KTM Ajo machine threatened to highside him off – was sixth fastest in FP2, but finds himself down on the timesheets on combined times.
With Bulega clear at the front by the end of play on Friday, the paddock now looks up to the skies to see what weather on qualifying day will bring. Schedule changes see the lightweight class head out on track an hour earlier than the original schedule at 9:00 (GMT +11), as the timetable shuffles to allow Moto2™ and MotoGP™ some more track time in better conditions.