Phillip Island, Australia

2019 Phillip Island Moto3 FP3 Result: Arbolino Not Quite Gone With The Wind

Not quite the Titanic spin-off predicted 24 hours ago but although the lightweight class escaped another downpour, they could not dodge the cold and the wind. A few riders took to the track all wrapped up and resigned to the idea that the Q2 ship has sailed but keen to work towards the race, while some were in no hurry to aggravate injuries or risk new ones in the challenging conditions.

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2019 Phillip Island MotoGP Tire Test: Marquez Quickest As New Michelin Passes Muster

Michelin got what they asked for at the special 20-minute tire test at Phillip Island, with a dry track and enough riders putting the 11 laps or more asked by Michelin on the new construction rear tire to provide useful data. The tire had already been tested at Barcelona, but Michelin needed to have it tested at a track with very high tire stresses before they could introduce it to the 2020 allocation. It all worked out perfectly for the test on Friday afternoon.

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2019 Phillip Island MotoGP FP2 Result: Veni Vidi Viñales

A gloriously sunny Friday afternoon in Phillip Island wiped off the memory of the morning’s washout but it still left the premier class frantically cramming the pursuit of the perfect setup and stringing together a fast lap in a single 45 minute practice session. Maverick Viñales was eager to impress before rain and wind steal the show once again on Saturday and the Spaniard took the reins of the session early on, only conceding briefly to Danilo Petrucci and Marc Marquez mid session.

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2019 Phillip Island Moto2 FP2 Result: Whirlwind Martin

Some sun was back on the menu and the intermediate class enjoyed the lunch special after a soggy breakfast with plenty of gravel for dessert. Splendid conditions welcomed riders for the frantic search for both rhythm and one lap speed in just 45 minutes, with different levels of success. Exquisite rookie Jorge Martin enjoyed Phillip Island in the sun after stealing the show in the wet and the Spaniard made sure that both of Friday’s sessions ended with his name at the top of the pile.

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2019 Phillip Island Moto3 FP2 Result: Second Set To Canet

FP1 felt like a bad dream by the time FP2 came about, with clear stretches of blue sky, dry asphalt and fairings shining in the sun. Slick tyres finally got their moment for the first and possibly only dry practice session of the weekend and most of the attention was focused on the pursuit of a top time for direct Q2 qualification.

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2019 Phillip Island MotoGP FP1 Result: Surf’s up, Maverick!

The premier class arrived in Australia and immediately went surfing on soaked asphalt, swaying against the wind and finding the balance in challenging conditions that looked nothing like what Sunday promises. Rain or shine, the sight of Marc Marquez heading straight to the top of the timesheets raises no eyebrows but this time the world champion did not get to keep the laurels. Compatriot Maverick Vinales snatched the honours for Yamaha and ended the morning over a tenth of a second faster than local favourite Jack Miller, who found some early motivation on home soil.

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2019 Phillip Island Moto2 FP1 Result: Martin Swims Past Bulega

The intermediate class got a soggy start in Australia, riders perhaps not too keen to face the cold and the wind in addition to the rain but they put their head down and looked for the limit. Some found it too soon, fresh victor Luca Marini crashing out at turn two on his outlap and, tired to be outdone, Alex Marquez immediately followed suit at turn four. While the two rivals were getting their sessions back on track with varying levels of success, Nicolo Bulega claimed top position and no one got within eighth tenths of the Italian’s top time until well into the session.

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Phillip Island MotoGP Preview: Great Track, Wrong Season, Retirement Rumors, And Silly Season Kicking Off Early

From one seasonally misplaced track to another. Fresh from Motegi, which MotoGP visits at the tail end of typhoon season, the Grand Prix paddock heads south – a very long way south – to Phillip Island, on the south coast of Victoria in Australia, perched on the edge of the Bass Strait. It is a glorious location at the end of the antipodean summer, with good weather very nearly guaranteed. But unfortunately, MotoGP doesn't visit at the end of the antipodean summer in February or March.

Instead, MotoGP is condemned to brave the elements in October, when it is spring in the southern hemisphere. And all because the Australian Grand Prix Corporation, the company which runs the MotoGP round at Phillip Island, is also the promoter of the Australian Formula 1 race, held in Melbourne Park, pays a premium to host the first F1 race of the year.

With Melbourne just under two hours away, the Australian Grand Prix Corporation doesn't want to have its two biggest events too close together, to prevent fans from being forced to choose between the two races. And having paid to make the F1 race the first of the season, moving MotoGP to October is the obvious choice. An understandable choice too: the F1 race at Melbourne Park draws over 100,000 fans on race day. Race day at Phillip Island sees around 35,000 paying customers through the gates.

Real racetracks

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2019 Phillip Island Moto3 FP1 Result: Arbolino Faces The Downpour

There was nothing fast and furious about that start of action down under, with strong wind blowing around big drops of rain just as the lightweight class was putting on gloves and attaching knee sliders. The challenging conditions brought Tony Arbolino to the fore, the young Italian consistently finding more speed than his rivals. By the time the worsening deluge halted further improvements, the VNE Snipers rider was one step ahead – worth seven tenths of a second.

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KTM Complete 2020 MotoGP Line Up: Brad Binder To Factory Team, Iker Lecuona To Tech3

KTM have finally found a solution to their rider line up problem for 2020. Today, the Austrian factory announced that they will be taking Brad Binder directly into the factory Red Bull KTM team, to race alongside Pol Espargaro, while they have signed Iker Lecuona to race in the Red Bull KTM Tech3 satellite squad opposite Miguel Oliveira.

This is something of a shake up to KTM's original plans, caused by the early departure of Johann Zarco. The Frenchman's decision to leave the Austrian factory at the end of 2019 (accelerated to after Misano by KTM's decision to drop him from Aragon onward) left them with a puzzle to solve.

With almost everyone with MotoGP experience tied up for 2020, and most Moto2 riders holding on for 2021, when the entire MotoGP grid is out of contract, finding a replacement for Zarco was almost impossible. They had already signed Brad Binder to the Tech3 satellite team, and had few options to choose from. 

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