Morbidelli and Márquez on course for success at windy Island
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Franco Morbidelli and Álex Márquez didn’t allow constantly gusting winds to blow their Australian Grand Prix preparations off course at the spectacular Phillip Island track today.
Conditions may have remained dry for both 45-minute practice sessions today, but cool temperatures and typically unpredictable winds blowing in from the nearby Bass Strait meant negotiating Phillip Island’s fearsomely fast sections remained a mentally and physically challenging affair.
World Championship leader Morbidelli overcame two scares this morning at the famous Southern Loop and turn 11 to gradually build up his speed and confidence in conditions that were easy to make a mistake in.
Not willing to take unnecessary risks on a cool surface, the Italian worked in his customary calm and methodical way to finish fifth on the combined leaderboard and less than 0.2s away from second spot.
Márquez arrived in Australia full of confidence and optimism after splashing his way to success in a rain-lashed Japanese Grand Prix just five days ago. Low temperatures and strong winds prevented the Spanish rider from being able to find his usual fast pace, so it was a steady rather than spectacular display to place Márquez in seventh position overall.
Franco Morbidelli: 5th – 1’34.336
“Today was quite a battle against the conditions more than anything else. It was hard to understand at times but it is always like this when we race in Phillip Island. Some days you get a good day and another time it can be difficult to push and find the limit. All you can do is continue to try and adapt to the conditions and give the maximum to keep on improving. I’m not completely sure where we can improve but like always we will keep concentrated and working hard to go faster.”
Álex Márquez: 7th – 1’34.220
“I can’t say I’m completely happy with how today turned out. The gap to the top rider is quite big but we know Phillip Island can throw up some changing conditions and it makes our job more complicated. Nakagami’s lap time though has shown the speed that is achievable here in Phillip Island and we must work to find a way to get much closer.”
Naoya Kaneko: Álex Márquez Crew Chief
“The focus for us tomorrow is to give Álex a bit more feedback from the rear tyre. He’s not completely at ease and rear tyre performance also plays a big part in front-end feeling too, so we must make the bike more balanced for him to push with more confidence. The nature of Phillip Island is so fast and flowing and you get a lot of heat generated in the rear tyre, particularly on the left side. As a result, Dunlop brings a stronger type of tyre to cope with the extra heat and Álex is not as comfortable as usual. We must work to allow him to use more of the potential of the grip that’s available.”