Phillip Island, Australia
2012 Phillip Island MotoGP Friday Round Up: Confidence, Control, The Half A Second Between The Rider's Ears, And A Minimum Wage
When Casey Stoner was asked on Thursday about the key to his speed through Turn 3 - now renamed Stoner Corner in his honor - he refused to answer, saying only that he might tell everyone after he had retired. To anyone watching Stoner scorch around that corner and the rest of the track, the secret was plain to see: the Australian is completely in his element, totally comfortable and confident in every move he makes at the circuit. Stoner left thick black lines round most of the left handers at the circuit, including daubing them all over the inside of the kerbs at Turn 3. It was a display of mastery that left even the injured Ben Spies in awe, watching at home on the computer. "I gotta say without a doubt Casey Stoner does stuff even GP racers watch and scratch their head at!" Spies posted on his Twitter page. Stoner ended nine tenths of a second up on second-place man Dani Pedrosa, the only man to dip into the 1'29s (just, his fastest lap being 1'29.999), and the only man bar Pedrosa to hit the 1'30s.
Confidence. That's Stoner's secret. And it's the secret of another Australian, a rider almost surprised to find himself at the front of the Moto2 class, Ant West having bagged the 3rd fastest time on the first day of his home Grand Prix. The podium at Sepang had kicked him into gear, West admitted, pointing out the importance of confidence to results. "I must have woke myself up!" West joked. "This class is all about having good confidence, because from 1st to 20th, everyone's fast. I just feel confident, and it makes everything so much easier. Today I feel good, and the bike's working really well." West's success was more than just an overnight transformation, West insisted. Things had slowly been improving since the QMMF team switched from the Moriwaki to the Speed Up chassis, West now able to close the gap the front. "We've been building up the last few races getting better and better, and I'm happy today. It just seem to be going well, even went out the first part of this session on old tires and still had quite a decent time."
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and the single tire supplier after the first day of practice for the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of practice at Phillip Island:
Pol Espargaro has made clear his intention not to give up on the 2012 Moto2 title without a fight, the HP Pons Tuenti rider dominating the second session of free practice for the class at Phillip Island just as he had the first. Espargaro ended FP2 over nine tenths faster than than 2nd place man Tom Luthi, in a session that was prematurely cut short by rain with under 20 minutes to go. Ant West has finally found his feet after his podium at Sepang, the Australian taking 3rd spot just behind Luthi, and the last man to get within a second of Espargaro. Championship favorite Marc Marquez ended FP2 in 4th, but at least being able to put in some laps after a problem with a spark plug had prevented him from setting a time in the morning, while Andrea Iannone picked up the pace to end the sessoin in 5th, one thousandth of a second ahead of Randy Krummenacher, the Swiss rider freshly returned from injury. The field behind Marquez is very tight: there are 12 men within a second of Marquez, with just fractions separating the group.
Casey Stoner has dominated the first day of practice at Phillip Island. After leading FP1 by nine tenths of a second, the Repsol Honda man dished up more of the same in the afternoon, ending the session just under nine tenths ahead of his teammate Dani Pedrosa. Stoner's pace was unrelenting, regularly lapping in the 1'30s, just dipping into the 1'29s towards the end of the session, already under the race lap record set by Nicky Hayden back in 2008.
Dani Pedrosa found a little more pace in the afternoon, taking 2nd behind his teammate, while Jorge Lorenzo ended the session in 3rd, just over a second slower than Stoner. Lorenzo heads up the Yamaha armada, with Cal Crutchlow faster than his Monster Tech 3 teammate Andrea Dovizioso, the Englishman taking 4th and the Italian 5th. Alvaro Bautista led the satellite Hondas, taking 6th ahead of Stefan Bradl, while Valentino Rossi was the fastest of the Ducatis, his 8th place time over two seconds slower than Stoner.
Jonas Folger has topped the second session of free practice for the Moto3 class at Phillip Island, taking over from Sandro Cortese at the very end of the session. The Mapfre Aspar rider went just under a quarter of a second quicker than Cortese on his very last flying lap on Friday afternoon. Maverick Viñales grabbed 3rd behind Cortese, the Spaniard very close to the German's time, ending just five hundredths behind Cortese. Danny Kent took 4th, the Red Bull KTM man the last rider to get within a second of Folger's time, but still half a second slower than Viñales.
Pol Espargaro ended the first session of free practice for the Moto2 class dominating the timesheets, the HP Pons Tuenti rider lapping over half a second quicker than Scott Redding in 2nd. Thomas Luthi provided the filling in a Marc VDS sandwich in 3rd, the Interwetten man fractionally slower than Redding and under a tenth quicker than Redding's teammate Mika Kallio in 4th, while Mike di Meglio had his best session since switching to the Kiefer Racing team, grabbing 5th spot. Ant West secured 6th, buoyed no doubt by his 2nd place finish at Sepang.
Marc Marquez needs just 2 points to secure the 2012 Moto2 World Championship, but he got his weekend off to a very difficult start. The young Spaniard could not manage to post a time, struggling with a bike problem that was eventually traced to an electrical connector. He did not post a time during the session.
Casey Stoner has started his last ever MotoGP race weekend at his home Phillip Island track in convincing style, leading the first session of free practice at the iconic Australian track by nine tenths of a second. The Australian was fast from the off, taking charge from the opening minutes and setting a pace that none could follow. Jorge Lorenzo came closest, the Factory Yamaha man the only rider to lap within a second of Stoner's scintillating pace, and a quarter of a second faster than his rival for the 2012 MotoGP title Dani Pedrosa. Andrea Dovizioso was the fastest of the chasing group, half a second slower than Pedrosa in 4th, and just ahead of San Carlo Gresini's Alvaro Bautista and Monster Tech 3 teammate Cal Crutchlow, while Nicky Hayden was the fastest Ducati in 7th. The weather had held for most of the session, a brief rain shower in the middle of practice causing the rders to lose ten minutes or so, but not slowing the riders once it passed.
Sandro Cortese got his first session of free practice as Moto3 World Champion off to a strong start, ending a dry but windy practice on Friday morning on top of the timesheets. The German had a comfortable lead over his Red Bull KTM teammate, Cortese faster than Danny Kent by over four tenths of a second. Mapfre Aspar's Jonas Folger took 3rd, finishing ahead of Maverick Viñales, the FTR Honda rider over 1.1 seconds behind Cortese in 4th. The return of the prodigal Viñales had been made possibe after the young Spaniard had issued a humbling retraction and apology for his withdrawal at Sepang, first in a press release, and later in person in a press conference at Phillip Island on Friday morning.
This weekend's Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island is going to be a very Australian affair, more so than most other years. For one obvious reason: this is the last chance to see Casey Stoner race a Grand Prix motorcycle at the iconic venue before he hangs up his helmet and retires from MotoGP. Record crowds are expected, and local media coverage is expanded as everyone gathers to say goodbye to the latest in a long and honorable line of Australian Grand Prix champions who have left an indelible mark on motorcycle racing.
The weekend started off with Stoner's name being added to those of Wayne Gardner and Mick Doohan, in a ceremony to rename Turn 3 Stoner Corner. Gardner's name has been given to the front straight, Doohan's to Turn 1, and Stoner's name follows after the Southern Loop. It is a fitting tribute to the man who has started from pole four times in a row, won here five times in a row and achieved some remarkable feats in MotoGP.
The only man to have won on a Ducati MotoGP machine since 2007, when Loris Capirossi won a flag-to-flag race in difficult conditions at Motegi. The only rider to have regained the premier class title after three seasons. Tied with Mike Hailwood for 4th in the all-time list of premier class winners, with 37 MotoGP victories. Tied with contemporaries Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa for 8th in the standings for victories in all classes, the three leading riders in the championship having 44 wins each, though the two Spaniards have vastly fewer wins in the top class.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and the single tire supplier ahead of this weekend's Australian MotoGP round at Phillip Island:
Press releases from some of the Moto2 and Moto3 teams ahead of this weekend's Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island:
Casey Stoner now has been granted one of the highest honors a motorcycle racer can have bestowed upon him: to have a corner named after him. In a ceremony held on Thursday at Phillip Island, Andrew Fox, on behalf of the circuit owners Linfox Properties, announced the official renaming of Turn 3 at Phillip Island to Stoner Corner, adding the Australian's name to those of Wayne Gardner and Mick Doohan, who have the main straight and Turn 1 named after them. The corner renaming ceremony was to honor Stoner's role in Australian motorcycle racing, his two World Championships (in 2007 and 2011) and his string of victories (five in a row) at the Phillip Island circuit. Turn 3 was selected because Stoner has proven to be something very special through that corner, offering one of the most spectacular sights in motorcycle racing, sliding both front and rear tires through the 260 km/h corner.
Maverick Viñales is to race in Australia with the Avintia Blusens team in Moto3. The young Spaniard has had to go back on his decision to quit the team before the end of the season, a decision taken very abruptly before the Sepang round of Moto3.
The El matí de Catalunya Ràdio radio program announced this morning that after taking advice from his lawyers, Viñales has decided to fly to Australia to be reunited with the team he left. Viñales is schedule to fly out to Australian on Thursday, and will be accompanied by his father and his lawyer.