The second test of the year took place in Philip Island and because the track is much different than Sepang, we had some confirmation and some revelation.
First of all Philip Island is a track that privileges the rider. The mind-bike connection, as I call it, is very important here. You have to trust a lot the front and a good rider can make the difference here “covering” some technical issue. So let’s take a look at the riders.
I can’t stress it enough, I knew he could do good on a Yamaha but I didn’t expect him to be in the front in each single session. He was constantly faster than Rossi, he found immediately the right setup for the bike. Another important thing is that he made 100 laps and he was always close to his personal best time. Without a doubt, a title contender.
He just made 50 laps and, probably due to technical issues he couldn’t ride for hours. An important thing to say is that he confirms the new frame to be good but they need time to really connect to it and find the right setup.
Marquez made the difference again even if he’s not really happy with the bike. Honda took a too aggressive approach last year regarding the engine which was too powerful. In plain English, if the acceleration is too aggressive you have to be very careful while accelerating out of the corner. This means that you’ll apply the throttle later than a rider with a smooth acceleration. That’s why they changed the engine from a “screamer” to a “low-bang” (If you’re asking yourself “what the hell is a Screamer and a Low-Bang?” I’m going to write an article sometime soon).
After such an aggressive start in Sepang, it’s strange to see Iannone in such a position. Also considering the fact that he was always very fast at Philip Island. A possible explanation is the fact that he still didn’t fully understood the Suzuki and he needs some more time to adapt. Switching from Ducati to Suzuki is a huge change in terms of riding style.
Lorenzo is still struggling he wasn’t bad like in Sepang but this is still far from the rider he used to be on the Yamaha. He’s closer to his team mate Dovizioso but he’s still behind. The Ducati developed a lot during the last years but it still conserves this aspect of being good in closing the corner and this doesn’t fit with Lorenzo’s round riding style. If he’s not competitive in Qatar, I think they should start to worry.
Yamaha was the first to show their new fairing and in Philip Island, we’ve seen some new. Ducati didn’t uncover theirs, of course, if they have one. They were always a step further than other manufacturers in terms of aerodynamics. The only strange thing is that Yamaha is the only one working on low airflow winglets while the others are working on high airflow. This last solution makes on paper more sense because the high airflow is the one which generates more down forces and pressure.
Finally, we talk about tires just to acknowledge the fact that nothing happened. Michelin made a great job and finally grew to a high standard. It seems like we won’t see a championship controlled by tire problems.
|Pos||Rider||Team||Fastest lap||Lead. Gap|
|1||VIÑALES, Maverick||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||1:28.549|
|2||MARQUEZ, Marc||Repsol Honda Team||1:28.843||0.294|
|3||PEDROSA, Dani||Repsol Honda Team||1:29.033||0.484|
|4||FOLGER, Jonas||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||1:29.042||0.493|
|5||CRUTCHLOW, Cal||LCR Honda||1:29.101||0.552|
|6||RINS, Alex||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||1:29.103||0.554|
|7||DOVIZIOSO, Andrea||Ducati Team||1:29.248||0.699|
|8||LORENZO, Jorge||Ducati Team||1:29.342||0.793|
|9||MILLER, Jack||Team EG 0,0 Marc VDS||1:29.358||0.809|
|10||ESPARGARO, Aleix||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||1:29.361||0.812|
|11||ROSSI, Valentino||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||1:29.470||0.921|
|12||IANNONE, Andrea||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||1:29.547||0.998|
|13||PETRUCCI, Danilo||Octo Pramac Racing||1:29.615||1.066|
|14||ZARCO, Johann||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||1:29.670||1.121|
|15||BARBERA, Hector||Reale Esponsorama Racing||1:29.791||1.242|
|16||ESPARGARO, Pol||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||1:29.857||1.308|
|17||BAZ, Loris||Reale Esponsorama Racing||1:29.977||1.428|
|18||SMITH, Bradley||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||1:29.978||1.429|
|19||BAUTISTA, Alvaro||Pull&Bear Aspar Team||1:29.984||1.435|
|20||REDDING, Scott||Octo Pramac Racing||1:30.005||1.456|
|21||LOWES, Sam||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||1:30.200||1.651|
|22||ABRAHAM, Karel||Pull&Bear Aspar Team||1:30.452||1.903|