The Moto2 class took to the circuit at Phillip Island in Australia for the first time where they were greeted by a very wet track and rain that continued to fall throughout. The championship has been undecided in the 600cc class, and initially many riders made their way out on track before retiring to the pits hoping conditions would improve.
Crashes during the opening stages of the session
In the opening stages Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) crashed out at turn 10; the back end came round as he began to accelerate out of the corner after making his way through the chicane down the hill.
Moments after Pasini crashed wildcard rider Alessandro Nocco (replacing injured Migeul Oliveira on the Leopard Racing KTM) crashed out at turn four, shortly after so did British rider Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2). After taking the wrong line into the corner, when Lowes touched the throttle the back end spun round on him and threw him over the bike landing hard on the tarmac.
This all happened in the first 15 minutes, just when the conditions appeared to be improving, another shower hit and a lot of rider then chose to return to the pits to avoid the rain. Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) and Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) chose to remain out on track as the rain just got heavier; but with similar conditions forecast for race day it was important time spent on an empty track.
Folger topped the leaderboard
Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) was the quickest man on track before they all retired as the shower hit. His time of 1:48.914 was the time to beat although conditions didn’t look like they were going to be improving. Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40), who won the race from pole position in 2015, decided to join them on track despite the weather and the injury he picked up in Motegi as his aim this round is to close the gap that Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) opened up between them in the championship.
Fast crash from Morbidelli
Morbidelli crashed out of turn eight of the track, a very fast turn on the circuit. He came off after he just touched the white line and tumbled through the gravel along with the bike that destroyed itself as it somersaulted so much that the petrol tank came loose. Luckily Morbidelli was back up to his feet but covered in dirt after his tumble however he looked shocked and dazed.
Syahrin goes to the top in Australia
With just over 22 minutes remaining, Syahrin set the quickest time and continued to improve on the track that was full of puddles. His time of 1:48.851 knocked Folger down to second, as he continued to push on track he improved his time by a further 0.416 setting a new fastest time of 1:48.435 despite coming across traffic on track. He returned to the pits having set a fastest time of 1:48.240.
Kent comfortable at Phillip Island
With 18 minutes to go, British rider Danny Kent (Leopard Racing) who was on pole in the Moto3 class in 2015 but crashed out during the race, jumped in in second behind Syahrin. Jesko Raffin (Sports-Millions-EWME-SAG) soon joined them slotting in in third. Folger had made his way back out on track and reclaimed his lead before Zarco set a new fastest time of 1:48.129; taking 0.2 seconds off Folger’s time.
Close call for Rins
Rins almost lifted up and out of the seat as he accelerated slightly early at turn 11 but he rescued it, However Xavier Simeon (QMMF Racing) crashed at turn four sliding out at the right-handed corer. He was immediately back to his feet and there was minimal damage caused to his bike.
Kent continued to improve on track and became the first rider to lap under 1:48 minutes with a time of 1:47.7 but Folger again improved and remained on top with a time of 1:47.629. It began to rain even harder with nine minutes remaining and only Syahrin remained out on the track on his own. After spoiling his 16th lap on track, he decided to come in, making sure he ‘dabbed’ on the way in to the pits.
Marini took one final chance on track
But although the rain continued to fall, with just under five minutes remaining, Luca Marini (Forward Team) made his way back out on track. There was so much standing water on the track there was a chance he would be the only rider to take the chance on track. It was a big risk as the session came to an end he slid off at turn two.
He hit a big puddle and was thrown off. He looked like he had created a new attraction in Australia as he slid across the grass with his arms tucked in; when he came to a halt he threw his arms up in the air as if to say “Why did I bother?” The remainder of the riders chose to stay up in the pits wrapping us as much as they could.
Folger quickest after Free Practice 3
Folger remained the quickest at the end of Moto2 Free Practice 1 ahead of Kent and Zarco. Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Team) has slotted into fourth ahead of Rins in fifth. Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) is yet to get his much deserved win this season was sixth quickest ahead of Syahrin, Raffin, Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing) and Remy Gardner who completed the top ten.
Incident in Japan with MotoGP legend
Gardner arrived late to Phillip Island as he and his father, MotoGP legend Wayne Gardner were caught up in an altercation at the Twin Ring Motegi. Wayne was arrested for a road-rage incident that Remy had not actual involvement in. Wayne remains back in Japan.
Luthi just outside the top 10
Motul Grand Prix of Japan winner Thomas Luthi (GaragePlus Interwetten) was 11th quickest ahead of Alex Marquez (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS), and ahead of QMMF Racing teammates Julian Simon as the fastest Speed Up rider, and Xavier Simeon. Isaac Vinales (Tech 3 Racing) completed the top 15 as the top Tech 3 rider.
Marcel Schrotter (AGR Team) was 16h ahead of Simone Corsi (Speed Up Racing), Iker Lecuona replacing sacked Dominique Aegerter for Technomag Racing Interwetten, Morbidelli and Edgar Pons (Paginas Amarillas Hp 40) who complete the top 20.
Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt INtact GP) was 21st ahead of Pasini, Marini and Lowes who crashed during the session. Wildcard rider Ramdan Rosli (Petronas AHM Malaysia) was 25th ahead of Ratthapark Wilairot (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), Axel Pons (AGR Team) Robin Mulhauser (CarXpert Interwetten) and Nocco completed the field in 29th.
Moto2 Free Practice 2 abandoned
Now as a result of the weather showing no signs of improving, the session previous, MotoGP Free Practice 2 was red-flagged midway after a delayed start due to the weather conditions. Race Direction then decided to abandon the rest of the day cancelling the second Moto2 Free Practice session to reduce the risk to everyone involved.