Two-time premier class World Champion Jorge Lorenzo reduced the leading lap time as the Phillip Island tire test continued on Tuesday. The Yamaha Factory Racing rider headed Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso, while Tito Rabat set a blistering place in Moto2.
This week’s three-day test follows the Australian Grand Prix of 2013, at which both Bridgestone and Dunlop were caught out by the greater average speeds on the new Phillip Island track surface and for this reason are conducting the test to avoid a repeat of such tIre issues later this season.
Maintaining the top spot he had already held on Monday, when he stated he was far happier with the 2014 rubber, Lorenzo this time reduced his best effort to 1’29.133. This was two and a half tenths of a second quicker than Repsol Honda Team’s Pedrosa, with Ducati Team’s Dovizioso making it three different manufacturers in the top three places while Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi and Ducati’s Cal Crutchlow occupied fourth and fifth positions. However, this test is focused more on the sampling of new tire constructions and compounds as opposed to rapid lap times.
Lorenzo could be seen lapping the track with a black carbon fairing on his Yamaha M1, significantly smaller in size but featuring a larger air intake in order to cope with the typically breezy conditions on an otherwise brilliant day for weather at the coastal venue. With Australia currently enjoying its summer, track temperatures in the region of 50 degrees Celsius are much higher than they will be for October’s Grand Prix, although this does not prevent Bridgestone from extracting plenty of data regarding tire durability; morning fog soon burned off thanks to the abundant amounts of sunshine. With a threat of rain forecast for Wednesday, MotoGP race simulations had been predicted on Tuesday, but ultimately the longest runs were of 14 laps apiece.
Characteristically for a day of testing, there were red flag stoppages. One was for Moto2 rider Nico Terol, who crashed at the MG Hairpin but escaped injury. There was a more unusual, brief stoppage just after half past 12 when a small flock of geese made an unexpected arrival on the circuit and were quickly hurried away by marshals.
In the Moto2 ranks, Marc VDS Racing Team’s Tito Rabat was on fire as he posted a lap time more than four tenths of a second quicker than title winner Pol Espargaro’s pole position time of last year: 1’32.168. The Spaniard, who was also an impressive third quickest overall for corner speed in the second sector of the lap and posted a rather staggering total of 101 laps, led team-mate Mika Kallio (still in pain with his wrist following a highside at Siberia on Day 1) plus Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2 pairing Nico Terol and Jordi Torres, as Dunlop evaluated nine new rear specification tires with its Moto2 runners; the aim is to have selected two by the end of the test.
One day remains in this week’s tire test. Bridgestone has already confirmed that it has effectively narrowed its options down to three choices of tire, with two of those looking most likely to be continued in development. While this test may not necessarily decide the specific compounds the Japanese company runs in this year’s Phillip Island race, it will provide sufficient data to produce the best possible tires.
Testing will continue on Wednesday, with action on the third and final day of the week taking place between 9:30am and 5:30pm local time (GMT +11).
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