Full report and results below:
Maverick Vinales has continued to make fantastic use of the resurfaced Phillip Island circuit by heading the field in the third Moto3 free practice session by almost half a second. In less blustery but still beautifully sunny conditions, his sensational lap of 1:36.650 was one and a half seconds quicker than his fastest time from yesterday. Jonas Folger headed the time sheets for the first half of proceedings but had to settle for second place.
A surprisingly impressive John McPhee finished up in a fantastic third place ahead of Miguel Oliveira aboard his Mahindra. Championship leader Luis Salom rounded out the top five and would be disappointed to be almost a full second behind the red-hot pace of Vinales. Isaac Vinales ended up in sixth place ahead of local favourite Jack Miller, Alex Marquez, his team mate Alex Rins and FTR Honda rider Alexis Masbou completed the top ten.
Press releases after the first day of practice for the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after the first day of practice at Phillip Island:
An ultra consistent Maverick Vinales has set a new fastest ever lap for a Moto3 machine around the Phillip Island circuit on his way to topping Friday's second free practice session. His time of 1:38.198 put him two hundredths of a second ahead of both Jonas Folger and Zulfahmi Khairuddin in second and third places respectively. It was an extremely promising showing from Khairuddin following the disappointment of missing his home GP last week after being declared unfit to race. His team mate and morning pace setter Luis Salom was a further hundredth behind in fourth.
Ever improving FTR Honda rider Niccolo Antonelli ended the session in fifth place ahead of Mahindra's Miguel Oliveira and Alex Rins. Rins had a premature end to the session after encountering bike troubles following an off track excursion to avoid Niklas Ajo, who had crashed ahead of him. Brad Binder, Ajo and Alex Marquez rounded out the top ten.
Luis Salom has made strong a signal of intent by topping the opening Moto3 free practice session at Phillip Island in sunny but cool conditions. The Spanish championship leader impressively set a new fastest ever lap of the sea side circuit, underlining that the new surface will likely see lap times tumble over the course of the weekend. Fellow KTM rider Jonas Folger finished in second place, four hundredths behind Salom and ahead of Zulfahmi Khairuddin in third.
The FTR Honda pairing of Isaac Vinales and Niccolo Antonelli rounded out the top five. Maverick Vinales lead for the majority of the early morning session but suffered a very fast crash at the notorious turn one late on. He was luckily able to walk away from the spill, but due to bike damage was unable to complete any further laps and had to settle for the sixth fastest time. Alex Rins, Jack Miller, Romano Fenati and Alex Marquez completed the top ten positions on the time sheet.
2013 Phillip Island MotoGP Preview: Of Spectacular Circuits, History In The Making, And A Legend's Last Chance
Ask any Grand Prix rider for his top three circuits, and you can bet that two names will figure on almost everybody's list: one will be Mugello, and the other will be Phillip Island. The order which the rider in question will put them in may vary, but the two appear so often because they share something special. Three factors make the two tracks such magical places to ride: they are both fast, they are both naturally flowing, and they are both set in spectacular locations.
Though their settings may be equally stunning, there is one major difference between the two. While Mugello sits amid the Mediterranean warmth of a Tuscan hillside, the Bass Strait, which provides the backdrop to the Phillip Island circuit, is the gateway to the cold Southern Ocean, with little or nothing between the track and Antarctica. The icy blast that comes off the sea will chill riders, fans and team members to the bone in minutes, gale force winds often buffeting the bikes and trying to blow them off course, when it isn't throwing seagulls and larger birds into their paths. The fact that the the track has a corner named Siberia tells you all you need to know about conditions at the Australian circuit.
Despite the Antarctic chill, changeable weather, gale force winds, tiny garages and general shabbiness of the place, Phillip Island remains perhaps the best motorcycle racing circuit in the world. It is exactly what a circuit is meant to be: fast, flowing, with one corner leading into another, a few blind corners, and lots of places where the rider's courage is tested to the very limit. At Phillip Island, the rider who is willing and able to carry the speed is the rider who wins.
Press releases from Dunlop and the Moto2 and Moto3 teams previewing the Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island:
When it was announced that the claiming rule was to be dropped and the rules would be changed for 2014, one of the main questions was what to call the new class. After some complaining early on, MotoGP fans had become used to the CRT name, and understood what was meant by it. With the choice of software now determining how much fuel and how many engines a team can use - 24 liters for the spec Dorna software, 20 liters for factories using their custom software with the spec Magneti Marelli ECU - there was no easy and obvious nomenclature for the bikes.
Under the first draft of the rules, the bikes were divided into two categories: 'MotoGP' and 'MotoGP with factory option'. That appears to have encountered resistance, however, and so a new name has been found for the non-factory bikes: for 2014, non-factory bikes will be referred to as 'Open' entries. There is of course a small irony in the fact that the new 'Open' class bikes will have less freedom than the factory option bikes, having both ECU and software closed, but with more fuel available, they will at least not be strangulated by the factory option fuel restriction.
If there was any doubt that Race Direction in MotoGP is trying to impose a stricter code of behavior on riders in all three Grand Prix classes, the bumper crop of penalty points issued at Aragon and Sepang makes their intention clear. At Aragon, three penalty points were awarded: One for Alessandro Tonucci in Moto3, for staying on the line during qualifying, and one for Sandro Cortese for the incident in the Moto2 race, when he touched Alex De Angelis, causing the Italian to crash.
The most discussed penalty was of course the one issued for Marc Marquez, who was penalized for the touch on Dani Pedrosa which severed the cable to Pedrosa's rear wheel speed sensor, confusing the electronics and causing the unlucky Pedrosa to be ejected from his Repsol Honda. Marquez had to wait until Sepang to be hear what the punishment for that incident would be, after Race Direction asked for more data.
At Sepang, a couple more penalty points were handed out. One to Pol Espargaro, for not respecting the newly instated starting zones, and cutting across in front of other riders waiting to do a practice start, and one for Maverick Viñales, for his excessively robust move in the run to the finish line, when he barged Jack Miller aside to grab 5th place.
2013 Sepang MotoGP Post-Race Round Up: Pedrosa's Revenge, Lorenzo's Valiant Defense, And History Made In Moto3
Sunday at Sepang provided a fascinating mix for motorcycle racing fans. A blistering Moto3 race, an impressive, if shortened, Moto2 race, and some breathtaking action in MotoGP. History was made several times over, and best of all, the races took place in front of a sellout crowd. Over 80,000 fans packed the stands in Malaysia, proof, if any were needed, of the slow, eastward drift of motorcycle racing's center of gravity.
In the MotoGP race, Dani Pedrosa did what he had set out to do two weeks earlier at Aragon, before he was so rudely ejected from his bike. Pedrosa had a look of grim determination on his face from the moment he rolled up at Sepang, and it barely left him all weekend. He had come to do a job, the pain in his hips merely spurring him on to get what he had been robbed of by an overeager teammate and an exposed sensor. He ruled proceedings in free practice, got caught out by conditions in qualifying, but leapt off the line at the start, as he has all year, and slotted in behind Jorge Lorenzo. After four laps, he worked his way past a valiantly defending Lorenzo, put the hammer down and went on to win.
This was what Pedrosa had intended to do at Aragon, and he took the win in Malaysia as clear vindication of his form. He made an extra effort to thank his team, and his family, but especially the fans who had supported him, posting a message on Twitter thanking the people who had continued to believe in him. Pedrosa may be unloved in some quarters - especially among those who cannot get over an insignificant piece of ancient history - but his ability is beyond question. Now that the pendulum has swung back towards Honda, as it does the second half of every season, Pedrosa is reaping the rewards he believes he is owed. His win at Sepang was flawless.
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after Sunday's races at Sepang:
Full report and results below:
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams after qualifying at Sepang: