After conditions at Phillip Island deteriorated on Saturday afternoon at the Pramac Generac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, FP4 was suspended pending a decision on whether or not to continue in the high winds hitting the Island. Race Direction, in consultation with the riders at a Safety Commission meeting, decided to cancel the day’s remaining track action and that creates a first: qualifying on Sunday.
The lightweight and intermediate classes had already headed out to decide their grids but by the time MotoGP™ were back on track, the ever-increasing wind put paid to the program – so the combined timesheets therefore remain the same. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) is fastest ahead of Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol), with no one improving in FP3 and entry to Q2 unchanged from the provisional glimpse we got on Friday.
There was some news from Saturday before the weather got worse, however, as Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) got back out on track after his crash in FP1. The Frenchman sat out FP2 yesterday due to the medication he was given after hitting his left foot in the crash, and was to be reviewed before heading out on track this morning. Deemed fighting fit to continue, he did just that and improved his laptime – although that was somewhat a given given his fastest FP1 effort was set in the wet.
The Frenchman will be back out with the rest of the field at the slightly different time of 9:50 (GMT +11) on Sunday morning, before Q1 then beckons the rookie for the first time. That begins at 10:20am, before Q2 decides the grid just after. The race time remains unchanged from the 15:00 (GMT +11) original schedule.
Marc Marquez: “In my opinion there was a small chance to ride but it was very dangerous. The wind was there, but the speed on this track…it’s high speed corners and I was riding alone, it was a problem but it was inside the limit. Then, it looked like when riders were overtaking like Zarco and Oliveira, you feel it much more so for safety reasons we decided to cancel. Tomorrow is another day and it was only qualifying so better to not take the risk.
“In MotoGP at 330kph at the end of the straight it was shaking a lot. For me it was on the limit, I would have ridden but it was only qualifying practice, tomorrow is another day and so we decided to cancel.”
Andrea Dovizioso: “Unfortunately it’s happened a lot riding here in a lot of wind, this is the worst track to have that kind of wind because you have to keep the angle almost everywhere so to manage the bike with that, it wasn’t regular. The strength of the wind was the problem, but it was even worse because it’s wasn’t regular. I think it was the right decision to not do the qualifying.
“The schedule change is the same for everyone so it’s fine, the difference is we have to be ready at the beginning, we have to qualifying after fifteen minutes, but the important thing is the weather.”
Alex Rins: “I agree with what Marc said, I was riding alone too and it was windy, worse than FP3, but it was ok. But maybe in a group it was worse and more dangerous although alone it was ok. In qualifying you try to ride alone. The difficult thing would have been in the race…if we start the race 22 riders all together, that could be really dangerous in the wind. The shame was not trying today at this amazing track!
“It’s the same for everyone, so let’s qualify tomorrow, for me I’ll try and get ready from the beginning. I’ll try to wake up earlier to try and be more on it, but let’s race tomorrow!”
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