Press releases from the MotoGP teams previewing the upcoming Phillip Island round this weekend:
DAMIAN CUDLIN TO FLY MAPFRE ASPAR TEAM FLAG AT PHILLIP ISLAND
Australian rider, who made his MotoGP debut last week in Japan, set to replace injured Héctor Barberá
Just under 4.5 kilometres of the most exciting tarmac in MotoGP awaits the riders this weekend as the series heads to Phillip Island, one of the wildest circuits on the calendar. Rapid changes in direction and elevation combined with dramatic changes in temperature and conditions make the Australian Grand Prix one of the most demanding rounds of the season and, like most years, it comes back-to-back with the Malaysian Grand Prix. As with most years this race also promises to be decisive in terms of the championship, this time with home favourite Casey Stoner getting his first mathematical opportunity to seal the MotoGP title for the second time in his career.
The MAPFRE Aspar Team heads 'down under' with a new rider in place, ready to step in for the injured Héctor Barberá. The Spaniard is continuing his recovery from recent surgery on his right collarbone, which he broke in Japan, with the aim of returning to action in Malaysia. The man charged with the task of flying the MAPFRE Aspar Team colours on board the Ducati Desmosedici is Damian Cudlin, who made his MotoGP debut last week in Japan. The Australian already competed in German Grand Prix in the Moto2 category last season, and finished 7th.
Damian Cudlin: "This is a fabulous opportunity for me, I honestly can't believe it. A week ago I made my debut in MotoGP and that was already a shock. It gives me great pride to be competing in MotoGP, the best championship in the world, and especially with such a great outfit as the MAPFRE Aspar Team. My first experience in Japan was unforgettable and now just two weeks later I get another opportunity. Last year I had the opportunity to compete in the German Grand Prix but that was in the Moto2, and I finished 7th. I am really happy, I consider myself a very lucky person and I want to make the most of every single minute of this opportunity. The level of the category and the machinery is extremely high, as I found out in Japan. I had never been to Motegi before and had to learn a lot in a short space of time but I am sure I can start out at Phillip Island at a higher level. I know the circuit and that will help me to make a confident start."
Yamaha Prepares for the Final Fly Away of the 2011 MotoGP Season
Yamaha Factory Racing is embarking on the final fly away of the season, a gruelling double header kicking off with Phillip Island this weekend and followed by Sepang a week later. The stunningly beautiful Phillip Island circuit with its sweeping and flowing nature has a reputation for unpredictable weather, providing challenging conditions including heavy rain, cold temperatures and high winds for the MotoGP riders to overcome. Reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo can claim two 250cc Grand Prix victories and one MotoGP second place podium at the track last year. The Mallorcan will be looking for any opportunity to close the current 40 point gap to Championship leader Casey Stoner with just three races remaining of the season.
Ben Spies is no stranger to Phillip Island, kicking off his rookie World Superbike year there with a race win in 2009 from pole position and enjoying a strong performance as a MotoGP rookie in 2010. Last year's race saw him start from the front row alongside 2011 Yamaha team mate Lorenzo, finishing a respectable fifth and claiming the 2010 Rookie of the Year title.
"I am now heading to Australia after a few days of training in Indonesia. I'm looking forward to riding at the Phillip Island circuit, one of my favourite and probably the most beautiful track we race on. After the race in Japan, where we had a positive result, we are really determined to be on the podium again. We know it's not going to be easy because Casey is usually invincible on his home track, but I will try my best and won't give up!"
"Phillip Island is such a great circuit to ride; I've got great memories there from Superbike and also last year where we had a really good race. We had yet another unlucky break in Japan but still managed to deliver a good ride so we'll take the positive from that and give it 100% this weekend and see what we can do. I've been relaxing here in Australia for a few days so I'm fully fit and refreshed and ready for it!"
"It's always difficult with big fly aways overseas so it will be a tiring event for us. Casey is really fast at Phillip Island but if we can find our winning set up quickly then hopefully we can be up there. It will be difficult but we'll give it our best shot as always. Jorge likes the track and Japan showed us that anything can happen during a race so we won't give up until the end."
"Phillip Island is a very special circuit, I think it could be a good one for us knowing our bike. I know that both riders really like riding there which is positive. In Japan we had good results in a difficult race despite all the problems Ben had during the weekend, this makes me confident for this race. Usually the Phillip Island race is characterised by unpredictable weather, it will be quite cold but hopefully dry otherwise it's going to be a difficult weekend."
Rizla Suzuki aiming for more progress at Phillip Island
Publish Date: Monday, October 10, 2011
Rizla Suzuki heads to the only Grand Prix in the southern hemisphere this week aiming to make the good work from recent races count at a very challenging circuit.
Álvaro Bautista and his Suzuki team, including the engineers in Japan, have made big steps with the GSV-R this year and will now be looking to make more improvements at the 4,448m Phillip Island circuit. Bautista has scored a number of top-six results this season and was running in fourth place last time out in Japan, before a crash robbed him of what looked like being his best result so far this season. He is determined to make amends for the disappointment at Motegi at a circuit that he has tasted success at previously - Bautista won the 125cc race at Phillip Island in 2006, on his way to the world title ,and has also taken two second places in the 250cc category.
The Phillip Island circuit is situated near Melbourne in the state of Victoria and is one of the most southerly points of Australia. Inclement and very changeable weather can play an important part in the weekend's events, with the chance of the conditions changing from warm sunshine to freezing rain in a short time. The picturesque track is still one of the most beautiful on the calendar, with its enviable position overlooking the sea, and its fantastic layout; it is a race not to be missed for a true MotoGP fan. Its mix of fast corners, changes of elevation and a 900m straight that gives the riders the feeling they are heading directly into the Pacific Ocean makes this one of the most spectacular circuits on the MotoGP calendar. As one of the fastest, most fluid, tracks that MotoGP visits, it continues to provide some of the best racing of the year.
Friday will see Bautista and the Rizla Suzuki men at work for the first two free practice sessions followed by a further practice on Saturday morning. Saturday afternoon will see the Spaniard going all out to secure the best grid positions during qualifying in readiness for the 27-lap race that gets underway at 16.00hrs local time (05.00hrs GMT) on Sunday 16th October.
"I was very disappointed and upset at the end of the race in Japan, because we deserved to hold on to that result after all the hard work everyone has put in. We have to take all the positives from that weekend, and the previous races, and keep working in that same frame of mind in Australia. I know this will be a completely different challenge, but the bike is now working well in all conditions and this weekend will show us how far we have come this season. I missed out on a top-10 at Phillip Island by less than a hundredth-of-a-second last year and I'm sure we can certainly go much better than that this weekend. You never know what the weather will do at Phillip Island, but we're ready no matter what happens!"
SIMONCELLI SUPER CHARGED FOR PHILLIP ISLAND
After a his stunning performance at Motegi, where he managed to finish fourth despite a ride- through penalty, Team San Carlo Honda Gresini rider Marco Simoncelli heads to Australia in high spirits. In recent races "Super Sic" has discovered the consistency that he was missing at the start of the season and he is ready to finish the campaign in style. A test on board the RC213V machine that he will ride next year provided another boost at Motegi and after a short holiday he can't wait to get back out on track at Phillip Island. The Australian circuit is a favourite of his, having won there in 2008 and 2009 on a 250 and qualifying on the second row in fourth place in MotoGP last year. Hiroshi Aoyama had a disappointing home race at Motegi, suffering grip problems in the race that prevented him from his exploiting his full potential. The Japanese rider is hoping for a turnaround in fortunes this weekend.
Marco Simoncelli "After a bittersweet Grand Prix at Motegi I had the opportunity to test the RC213V, the bike I will be riding in Team San Carlo Honda Gresini colours next year. It was an amazing experience - 50 laps of pure adrenaline. The bike is so much fun and it keeps pulling in fifth and sixth gear. I gave some feedback to the HRC engineers that will hopefully be taken into consideration before the next test at Valencia. Before travelling down to Phillip Island I have had a short break on the exotic island of Boracay in the Philippines. It gave me the opportunity to relax and also work on the launch of my new website www.58marcosimoncelli.it. Now I am feeling motivated and ready to fight again at Phillip Island. At Motegi I was able to see once again that I can fight with the guys at the front and at a circuit where I won 250 races in 2008 and 2009 I want to show it. I was lacking some race consistency but we have addressed that and if it wasn't for the jump start at Motegi I would have been fighting for the podium, so that is something I want to make up for at Phillip Island."
Hiroshi Aoyama "I really wanted to score a positive result at my home Grand Prix but I didn't manage it. We had some grip problems that prevented me from being consistent in the race which was a real shame in front of my home fans. Now we go to Phillip Island, a circuit I love as long as the weather isn't too cold. If the conditions are good I enjoy riding there and I particularly like the atmosphere in Australia. I am desperate to have a full Grand Prix weekend where I show my true potential and hopefully along with the team we can create the right conditions to achieve it. We only have three races left so that is all the motivation we need."
Fausto Gresini "If it wasn't for the ride through Marco would definitely have been on the podium at Motegi. It was a shame but the consistency he has shown in races recently shows that he is ready for any challenge. I am very happy with his form and delighted that we will be working with him again next year with the full support of HRC. His determination to improve is extraordinary and I was really pleased that HRC gave him the opportunity to test the RC213V that he will ride in Team San Carlo Honda Gresini colours next year. It was a fantastic and positive experience for him and he was very impressed with the bike. Marco will go to Phillip Island in good spirits and highly motivated to do well at a circuit where he has already won races in 250. I hope Phillip Island also gives Hiroshi a chance to make up for his disappointment at Motegi, when he was unable to secure the result he was hoping for in front of his home crowd. Hiroshi has the potential to be a leading rider in MotoGP but maybe he is missing the required determination."
BACK-TO-BACK FLYAWAYS IN AUSTRALIA AND MALAYSIA FOR DUCATI TEAM
The Ducati Team is headed to the first of two overseas races that in the space of two weeks will take the Italian team first to Australia and then to Malaysia. The Phillip Island Grand Prix is one of the most popular rounds among the MotoGP riders because the circuit that twists along the Bass Strait features an old-style layout that is fast and flowing, and spectacular to ride.
Apart from 2006, when their best result was fourth place, the Ducati Team has always finished on the podium at Phillip Island. As for Valentino Rossi, he has enjoyed no fewer than seven victories there in his career, plus another six podium finishes. On Friday, the Italian will be testing the readiness of the hand that he injured in the crash in Japan, and he'll also try continue the good progress he made there with the GP11.1's setup.
Nicky Hayden is also a great admirer of the Down Under circuit, where he owns the lap record (2008), and where he will be celebrating his 150th Grand Prix this weekend. He has climbed the podium three times at Phillip Island, and he finished fourth last year with the Ducati.
VALENTINO ROSSI, Ducati Team
"At Motegi, despite the outcome of the race and what the consequences of the crash turned out to be, there were a number of positive aspects. We worked well on the bike's balance and setup, and in the end, from that point of view, we had one of the most positive weekends of the season. Phillip Island is another track where the Ducati has always gone well, as have I, so we hope to be able to work as well as we did in Japan. As far as my hand is concerned, the swelling is reduced, and we still have a couple of days before we go on the track. We just have to wait for Friday morning to see how it reacts.
NICKY HAYDEN, Ducati Team
"Phillip Island is definitely one of the highlights of the year, because everything about it is special. It's fast, flowing and really fun to ride. The big question mark is always the weather. We can get rain, wind, cold and sun, all in the course of one race weekend. Casey has won a lot of races there for Ducati, and I should have been on the podium there last year, except that I left the door open for Vale to beat me. It's a good track for me, and although I know it won't be easy, I really hope we can do well. I've got Simoncelli coming for me in the points, but I'm not really thinking about that. I'd just like to try to get a good result on Sunday, when it counts."
VITTORIANO GUARESCHI, Team Manager
"Phillip Island is one of the circuits where our bike has always gone well, and it's one where Valentino has posted many wins. Nicky also loves the track, so our goal is to be able to continue the good work we did in Japan with both riders. We'll have the unknown of Vale's hand injury, but he was able to rest and recuperate over the past few days, so we hope it won't give him any problems."
Repsol Honda Team arrives in Australia in fine form
The Repsol Honda Team arrives in Australia this week ready to put on a great show at one of the most exciting races on the calendar. Phillip Island is not only a wonderful track for both riders and spectators but also, with only three races to go, the first place where the World Championship titles could be decided.
The three Repsol Honda riders face the last phase of the season in optimum form. Casey Stoner has always been a safe guarantee in Phillip Island. He has won the past four MotoGP races there and after his third place in Japan, which he didn't feel fully happy with, he will be looking for his fifth successive victory on home soil. With a forty point lead in the World Championship Standings, Casey has been creating a dream season which can see him take the Championship in front of his home fans if he takes ten points or more than rival Jorge Lorenzo in Sunday's race.
Honda will also be looking to clinch the Constructor's Title in Phillip Island, in order to secure this, the top Honda RC212V must finish at least third in the race. Pedrosa arrives in Australia after taking a brilliant victory in Japan - the first one for the HRC Factory Team in Motegi - and will relish racing in Phillip Island again, where he was unable to race last year due to injury. Dovizioso will be also looking to produce a strong performance as in Motegi, where unfortunately, his race was ruined after he was handed a ride through penalty after leading the race in the first laps. Andrea and Dani are third and fourth in the overall standings separated by just one point.
The race weekend will start on Friday with the first day of free practices. All practice sessions will be scheduled one hour later than usual to allow riders to acclimatise to the later racing time in Phillip Island of 16h00, changed to facilitate audiences in Europe.
CASEY STONER – World Championship Position: 1st with 300 points
"Every year I look forward to going to Phillip Island, there are a few tracks I really enjoy, Mugello and Brno being the other tracks so I'm excited to get to there and see how the bike works. I love coming back home to race in Australia, it's always a lot of fun and we don't get to visit so often, as well as the track, the general atmosphere is incredible and I always enjoy the weekend as a whole and the fans are fantastic. Hopefully this weekend we can have a good race, I'm very disappointed after Japan as we knew our potential, I want to go there and win the race, like I wanted to in Japan. The season has been fantastic so far and we'll be looking to continue this momentum. If we can top it off with a win in Phillip Island, my home Grand Prix it would be a dream. It will be a long hard weekend, and there is still a lot of work to do to win the Championship, but we're ready for it".
ANDREA DOVIZIOSO – World Championship Position: 3rd with 196 points
"Phillip Island is a nice circuit set in a unique location. Last year the race was not as we expected as I had a technical problem that prevented me to fight for the podium. My target this time is to return on the podium and gain some points in order to retain the third position in the Championship. Phillip Island is a demanding track and in the past I have struggled quiet a lot. The real issue is with the weather, the strong winds, rain and cold temperatures have often complicated the race. From a technical point of view the Australian track requires an aggressive riding style and an ability to make the bike turn whilst sliding. This is a very spectacular place, the setting by the ocean makes it special and the many fans are truly passionate. After the race weekend we had in Japan I'm looking forward to the Australian GP. Since my debut in the GPs in 2002 I have raced with Honda my who le career, for next year i have decided to take another challenge. But this is for 2012, now I'm focused on these last three remaining GPs. I want to have some spectacular races and score good results for Honda, my team and all my fans".
DANI PEDROSA – World Championship Position: 4th with 195 points
"I'm looking forward to going to Phillip Island as the circuit is very nice with many fast corners and a lot of sliding. The tyres play an important role there as the left side of the tyre gets used a lot and therefore durability is always crucial. Last year I tried to return to racing in Australia after my collarbone operation and I realised during practice that It would be impossible for me to finish the race. It was very hard for me to accept that I was not ready to race as a result of the injury and I had to return home empty handed after a big effort. This year I would like to race in normal conditions and leave Australia with a good result".
Bridgestone MotoGP Preview - Round 16: Australia
Tuesday 11 October 2011
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft, Medium. Rear (asymmetric): Medium, Hard
As the first of the final back-to-back pair of overseas races of the 2011 season, the MotoGP paddock heads to Australia's Phillip Island circuit for round 16 on 16th October, where mathematically there is the first chance for the 2011 title to be sealed.
Phillip Island is an unusual circuit in that it manages to be the least demanding venue on the calendar for the front tyres and the right shoulders of the rears, whilst at the same time the hardest of the year for the left side of the rears.
The weather at the coastal track is often cold and windy in October, meaning that softer compounds are required to generate grip and good warm-up performance, and with only one area of heavy braking front tyre stability is not so critical. But the circuit is fast and flowing, with the highest average speed of any circuit on the calendar, and the last two long left-handers are responsible for the highest rear tyre temperatures of the season.
All of which requires Bridgestone to provide a special construction of rear slick tyre designed to maximise warm-up performance, particularly in the cold morning sessions, whilst also being able to cope with tyre temperatures that can exceed 120 degrees Celsius.
The rear tyres Bridgestone have selected for Phillip Island have been improved since last year, in the form of construction and ability to cope with temperature, so consequently the available compounds are one step softer than in previous years. Both options feature the extra soft compound rubber in their right shoulders for maximum warm-up and rider safety and confidence in the opening laps, and either the medium or hard rubber in the left side. These special construction tyres have already been proved in action this year, at the almost-as-demanding Sachsenring.
As far as front tyre compounds are concerned, they are the same as last year in soft and medium compound guise. Only two front tyre options are available in Phillip Island, as opposed the three that have been offered since the Czech Republic Grand Prix, because the soft compound front slick is already selected for Australia for its warm-up performance advantage so a third emergency spec for cold weather is not needed.
Hiroshi Yamada – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Department
"Casey enters the Australian Grand Prix with a 40 point lead over Jorge meaning that if he wins, which he has done here at his home track for the last four years in a row, he can clinch the World Championship if Jorge finishes fourth or lower so it is bound to be a tense but very exciting race weekend. Phillip Island is an unusual circuit for us because of the disparity of the demands placed on the left and right shoulders of the rear tyres, but I am confident in our tyre offering this year, especially as we have chosen softer rear slicks for increased rider safety in an ongoing drive to provide the best possible warm-up performance."
Hirohide Hamashima – Assistant to Director, Motorsport Tyre Development Division
"Despite being the highest speed circuit on the calendar with an average speed of over 180kmh, Phillip Island is generally not tough on most sections of the front and rear tyres because of the low ambient temperature and flowing nature that presents only one point of heavy braking in the lap. However the challenge comes from the last two corners in particular, as by stark contrast they generate the highest rear tyre temperatures of the year in the left shoulders. The two corners are long and fast and generate high lateral loads and thus temperature and the stresses demand a special construction of asymmetric rear tyre in order to cope without blistering.
"We have seen in the past that the cold and rain can be important factors so we have selected softer compounds of rear slick tyre this year, the same as we made available in Germany earlier in the year. Using a special construction, the rear tyres we have selected are able to cope with such temperature whilst the softer options will maximise warm-up performance and rider safety in the early laps of each session which is important."
Edwards and Crutchlow fired up for Phillip Island challenge
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team makes the long trip to Australia this weekend with confidence high that Colin Edwards and Cal Crutchlow can battle for a double top 10 finish at the breath-taking Phillip Island circuit.
Edwards has an impressive record at the 2.764 miles track and in his eight finishes from nine starts, he has only finished lower than ninth on one occasion with a best of fourth place back in 2004. He has qualified in fifth position at Phillip Island for the past two seasons and he is aiming for a fifth consecutive top 10 finish at the spectacular coastal track, which has stunning views over the Bass Strait.
The 37-year-old is currently ninth in the overall rankings on 98-points and six-points from Sunday's 27-lap race will see Edwards better his tally from 2010 with two races of the World Championship still remaining.
Crutchlow is no stranger to the technical Phillip Island layout, which features fast and sweeping corners that provides one of the toughest examinations of man and machine on the calendar.
Crutchlow qualified on the front row of the grid at last year's World Superbike round and he just missed the podium in an unforgettable World Supersport race in 2009 when the top five were split by just over a second.
Like most of the grid, Crutchlow is a massive fan of the fast and undulating circuit and he is looking forward to riding a MotoGP bike for the first time at Phillip Island when practice gets underway on Friday morning.
The British rider is currently enjoying a fine run of consistent form in his rookie season and he is seeking a fifth consecutive points-scoring finish on Sunday.
Due to its proximity to the coast, the Phillip Island weekend is frequently dominated by rapidly changing weather conditions including heavy rain, high winds and bitterly cold temperatures that only adds to the challenge facing the MotoGP field.
The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team will have little time to rest and recuperate as the World Championship paddock immediately heads back to the Far East for the Malaysian Grand Prix at Sepang next weekend ahead of the season finale in Valencia.
Colin Edwards, 9th - 98 points:
"It is always a special feeling to be heading to Phillip Island because I've got a lot of good friends in Australia who always come out to support me. And the track is something really spec ial and there's nothing else like it on the calendar. I fell in love with the track when I raced here years ago in World Superbikes and I still get that same buzz even now. It is super-fast, has lots of undulation and you get to push a MotoGP bike to its absolute limit at Phillip Island. The weather usually throws up a few surprises for us and I'm sure this weekend will be no exception, but we'll be ready for whatever happens and pushing as hard as always to get the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team the best result possible. After a couple of difficult races I was back in the top 10 in Japan and that will be my aim again this weekend."
Cal Crutchlow, 13th - 57 points:
"I've been really excited about this weekend for a while now because Phillip Island is an awesome track and I can't wait to get a taste of what it feels like to ride a MotoGP bike on it. I've ridden a Supersport 600 and World Superbike machine there and had some good performances, so I'm hoping it will be the same this weekend. I've been told to expect some unpredictable weather this weekend, which will feel strange because normally when I'm here it is really hot and sunny in February. Whatever happens it will be the same for everybody and I'm just concentrating on extending my good run of results. I've scored points in the last four races and that consistency has been good for my confidence and at least I'm coming here without the extra pressure of learning the track. That makes a massive difference because I can focus all my energy on my riding and setting up the bike, so the top 10 is my goal again."
CAPIREX RETURNS AT PHILLIP ISLAND
The setting of Phillip Island hosts Round 16 of the 2011 MotoGP World Championship this weekend, the third last of the season. Loris Capirossi will be back aboard his Ducati Desmosedici after the Motegi forfait. The MotoGP veteran, which suffered a right shoulder dislocation at Aragon, is working hard in these days to try to get the race in good condition on this track, where he has done well in the past (three first places and several podiums).
Fabiano Sterlacchini - Pramac Racing Technical Director
"Last year, on this track, Ducati done very well, and this is a good point of start. The track is quite compatible with the characteristics of the bike, we should be good to take our chances. We hope the weather will cooperate with us. It's a pity that Loris will not at 100%".
Loris Capirossi - Pramac Racing Team
"I'm happy to be back in this circuit, I'm very bound to Phillip Island track. In the past I've won here three times, earning many podium finishes. I'll be back there for the last time, I hope to do well, even though my shoulder still causes many problems, despite the medical care made in recent days."
Randy De Puniet - Pramac Racing Team
"At Motegi we didn't repeat the good things made at Aragon. The feeling with the bike was not good because Motegi track required a different setting than the standard. In the past I did not get great results in Australia, but I want to do well and finish this season in the best possible way."