Rain halts play in Phillip Island
Cold temperatures, gusting winds and torrential rain meant Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Jack Miller and Tito Rabat experienced a frustrating opening day of practice action at the spectacular Phillip Island track in preparation for the Michelin Australian Grand Prix.
Miller and Rabat both expertly conquered incredibly slippery conditions in this morning’s weather-dominated FP1 to set competitive times in a session that took part in chilly temperatures that hit just 12 degrees.
Miller delighted a soaked home crowd in the opening session when he finished in an impressive third position after initially leading the 45-minute opener in his first track action on home soil since he became a national hero with victory in the historic Dutch TT in late June.
The 21-year-old looked as comfortable and fast as he did when triumphing in a rain-hit race in Assen and a best time of 1’41.457 left him just 0.5s behind pacesetter Cal Crutchlow.
Rabat also built up his speed in treacherously slippery conditions and he was able to outpace the likes of Aleix Espargaro, Hector Barbera and triple MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo.
Rabat logged the 15th quickest time this morning with a 1’44.178 his personal benchmark and the Spaniard was looking forward to making more progress with the rain setting of his Honda RC213V machine this afternoon.
The former Moto2 World Champion was one of only six riders to post a timed lap in an FP2 session that started 45 minutes late after heavy and constant rain left large patches of standing water scattered around the 4.8km track.
Almost a third of the session had been completed when track conditions deteriorated to the point that Race Direction opted to red flag the session. After a further lengthy delay to see if conditions improved it was decided to cancel the remaining 31 minutes of the session because of the adverse weather.
Jack Miller: 3rd – 1’41.457
“I’ve got to say the conditions were atrocious today, so firstly I want to say thanks to the Australian fans who still came out and supported me. We got out on track this morning and it wasn’t too bad in terms of learning something for the rain set-up, but this afternoon it was far too wet and dangerous. It’s a shame we couldn’t put on a show this afternoon but it was the correct decision to cancel the session because we simply can’t ride in those conditions. Hopefully for everybody’s sake the weather is better tomorrow and if practice and qualifying is wet then I’m confident I can be strong and do a good job. I felt I had good speed in the wet this morning and I don’t think missing two dry sessions will hurt us too much if it is dry tomorrow.”
Tito Rabat: 15th – 1’44.178
“Today was very difficult because of the weather conditions but I’m pleased to get in a full wet session this morning because I was happy with the pace and my feeling with the bike in FP1. This afternoon it was impossible to ride in these conditions and unfortunately it looks like it is going to be wet again tomorrow. Hopefully the conditions will be better than today and at least we can ride and then we must wait and see what happens for the race. The weather is constantly changing and we must be ready to adapt quickly to whatever happens. I went out for a couple of laps in FP2 and it was a complete disaster. I was spinning everywhere and it is not safe to ride in conditions like that and it was definitely the right decision to red flag the session and then cancel it because it was so easy to crash.”
Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal
“Unfortunately today was completely dominated by the weather but I have to say both Jack and Tito were very strong in this morning’s FP1. We know Jack can be strong in the rain after what he did in Assen and I was delighted to see him in third position. It was a good boost for his confidence and morale after a tough weekend in Japan. Tito was also looking good and he had some very experienced talent behind this morning. I hope the weather improves for the remainder of the weekend because if we get similar conditions for the rest of the schedule then it will make life very difficult for everybody.”