FILE PHOTOGRAPHY BY GOLD & GOOSE
Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo may be on the verge of losing his MotoGP World Championship, but he isn’t going down without a fight, the Spaniard leading the first practice session today on the newly resurfaced Phillip Island circuit in Australia.
Lorenzo was the first to lead the session, lapping at 1:31.884 in sunny but cool conditions to get things started, and he was there at the end as he lowered his mark to 1:29.167 – just .088 of a second faster than the man who could take his title this weekend, Marc Marquez. Marquez, in his first laps of the Phillip Island circuit on a MotoGP bike, didn’t take long to adapt and he led in the middle portion of the session before giving way to Lorenzo at the end.
The retired Casey Stoner, who won the last six Australian GPs at Phillip Island, earned pole position at PI last year with a best lap of 1:29.623 on the Repsol Honda.
Go & Fun Honda’s Alvaro Bautista ended the day third fastest, the Spaniard .664 of a second behind Lorenzo’s best, but ahead of Malaysian MotoGP winner Dani Pedrosa on the second factory Repsol Honda. Bautista was the final rider to lap in the 1:29s.
Then came Valentino Rossi on the second factory Yamaha, the Italian legend running straight in the Honda Hairpin late in the session.
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow ended the opening session in sixth, one spot better than his teammate Bradley Smith. Then came Marlboro Ducati’s Nicky Hayden, 1.49 seconds behind Lorenzo but over half a second better than his teammate Andrea Dovizisio, the Italian ending up 10th. Those two were split by the surprising Randy DePuniet on the best of the CRT bikes in the opening salvo.
Surprisingly, Lorenzo and his dominant countrymen will be attempting to become the first Spaniard to win the Australian Grand Prix since Alex Criville won the race in 1998. Lorenzo – who will start his 100th MotoGP on Sunday - has never won a MotoGP in Australia, though he did wrap up his title at Phillip Island last year.
Stefan Bradl, who suffered a broken ankle last weekend in Malaysia, was back on track today, the German rider completing 11 laps to end the day 20th. The LCR Honda rider underwent surgery to repair the broken ankle just six days ago.
Yonny Hernandez was the only crasher in this morning’s first session.
Free Practice 1
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:29.167
2. Marc Marquez (Honda) 1:29.255
3. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1:29.831
4. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:30.008
5. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:30.053
6. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1:30.130
7. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 130.361
8. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:30.666
9. Randy de Puniet (ART) 1:31.280