Bradley Smith was fastest during the cold and damp morning FP2 session for the 125cc class at Phillip Island, diving under Nico Terol's time as the flag fell for the end of the session. Terol was left down in 2nd place, ahead of Simone Corsi, who had been fast all session, and Joan Olive.
Phillip Island, Australia
It is a truth universally acknowledged that the heart of MotoGP lies in Europe, and more particularly, in Spain and Italy. Most of the teams are based in one of these two countries, the riders are overwhelmingly from those two Mediterranean countries, and at least a passing knowledge of either Spanish or Italian - the two are similar enough that knowledge of one will allow you to get by in the other - is an absolute prerequisite for survival in the MotoGP paddock.
There was a fairly hefty injury toll at the cool and dusty Phillip Island track on Friday. There were fallers in all of the categories, but the heaviest of the lot were Hector Barbera in the 250cc class and Niccolo Canepa in MotoGP. Barbera highsided, landing heavily on his back and knocking the wind out of him. As he struggled for breath, Barbera told the press afterwards, he feared the worst, the incident bringing back bad memories of his huge crash at Motegi last year. This time he got away with just some very nasty and very painful bruising, but he is currently behind held under observation, just to make sure that the cracked vertebrae he suffered last year have not been injured again.
Hector Barbera was the fastest man on track for the 250cc class at Phillip Island, but the Spaniard paid a heavy price for his efforts, falling heavily on his back and badly bruising it. Barbera finished over half a second ahead of 2nd place man Raffaele de Rosa, the Scot Honda rider carrying on the strong form he showed at Estoril. Both Jules Cluzel in 3rd and Mike di Meglio in 4th did much the same, setting times very close to De Rosa's.
Valentino Rossi was the fastest man out of the blocks in the MotoGP class at Phillip Island, the cool but sunny weather and dusty track conditions keeping the Italian well off lap record pace. The Italian was just over a tenth faster than Casey Stoner, the birthday boy (he turned 24 today) the only rider close to matching Rossi's time. But a few spots of rain later in the session prevented the Australian from making an attempt at the top of the timesheets.
Pol Espargaro made the early running in the first session of free practice for the 125cc class. The Spaniard, winner of two of the last three races, was over a quarter of a second faster than the championship front runners. Bradley Smith was fastest of that group, just edging out Nicolas Terol and Smith's team mate and the man looking to secure the championship this weekend, Julian Simon.
If one thing has become clear since the switch to the new 800cc formula, it has been the importance of the crew chief. With set up being an increasingly vital part of racing in MotoGP (get it wrong and you're nowhere, as Valentino Rossi found out at Estoril), the role of chief engineer has come under increasing scrutiny.
This seems to have motivated Daniele Romagnoli's decision to leave Yamaha at the end of this season. The experienced engineer was Colin Edwards' crew chief at the factory Yamaha team until the arrival of Jorge Lorenzo, who brought with him his own preferred option of crew chief, Ramon Forcada. With Forcada's arrival, Romagnoli was promoted to team manager of Lorenzo's side of Fiat Yamaha's divided garage.
This is the final, official version of the 2009 MotoGP calendar. After being in doubt for a long time, the Hungarian Grand Prix was eventually canceled over problems with the track. It will now make its debut on the calendar in the spring of 2010.
Phillip Island, Australia
Phillip Island, Australia: