These just in from Phillip Island:
Lorenzo Flies to Record Breaking Phillip Island Pole
Phillip Island (Australia), 19th october 2013
Defending world champion Jorge Lorenzo became the fastest motorcycle rider ever around the Phillip Island circuit today, taking pole position for tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix. The 15-minute qualifying heat began in normal fashion with Lorenzo the first man out on track. Drama immediately unfolded as he collided with a seagull coming over Lukey Heights.
The uninvited passenger did nothing to slow Lorenzo down as he stormed to a provisional pole time of 1'28.681, breaking the pole record set by Casey Stoner in 2008. Rival Marc Marquez was quick to take back the top spot, leaving Lorenzo in second position as he headed back in for the first tyre change with eight minutes remaining of the session.
After allowing most of the pack to enter the track, Lorenzo was back out with four minutes left on the clock. With no seagull to slow him down the Mallorcan was unflappable, dropping under the 1'28 mark with one minute to go and storming to an incredible 1'27.899 second lap for pole position. The time sets a new record as the fastest ever lap by a motorcycle on the Phillip Island circuit.
Valentino Rossi enjoyed another successful qualifying session, delivering his second consecutive front row start with third on the grid for tomorrow's race. The Italian nine-time world champion was the last rider to leave the pits at the start of the session, waiting to find some clear track for his qualifying efforts. His first laps with the soft tyre were enough to put him in fourth position, 0.817 from provisional pole.
He then returned to the pits with eight minutes remaining for a quick tyre change and was quickly back out with over six minutes left on the clock. Rossi then put the hammer down and dramatically picked up his pace to put in a 1'28.647 to move up a position and take third on the grid for tomorrow's race.
99 Jorge Lorenzo
1st / 1'27.899 / 7 laps
"I had an impact with a bird on the first few laps on the bike, luckily we could take it off and I could make a second attempt without a passenger, maybe because of this I went a little bit faster and was able to make pole position. I'm very happy because I pushed to the limit to make the lap and I made a very good time. We have some problems with the tyre because the new asphalt makes a lot of graining; we'll see if there are decisions from Dorna or Bridgestone tomorrow for the race. If we can make a good start we will try to get away at the beginning."
99 Valentino Rossi
3rd / 1'28.647 / 9 laps
"Coming back in Phillip Island with the new surface is fantastic, especially with this weather and this temperature to be back on the M1 is a great pleasure. To be able to push 100% on the soft front tyre is a fantastic feeling. I'm so happy with this position, it's the second first row in a row. It looks like in the last races we have found a better solution for qualifying because at the beginning of the season I struggled a lot. I know the race is tomorrow and especially Marc and Jorge and Dani will be very hard to beat. I have to give the maximum, find a good setting and tyre and try to fight for the podium."
Yamaha Factory Racing Wilco Zeelenberg
"A fantastic qualifying and an unbelievable lap so we are very happy with that. Tomorrow of course is the race and it looks like we have different issues than just one fast lap, we are struggling to decide which tyre we are able to use and get approval to use. This is still in our mind and also in our rider's. Set up wise we are very pleased and ready to go."
Yamaha Factory Racing Massimo Meregalli
"A really great qualifying result, having both riders on the front row is a great opportunity to start well for the race. We've done a great job, the bike has been competitive from the beginning and we have been able to make it even better for qualifying. We had an issue with the tyre so we are now waiting for a decision and we will see how move forward form there."
Marquez takes eleventh front row start with Pedrosa on second row
MotoGP Rookie of the Year, Marc Marquez, has taken his eleventh front row start for tomorrow's Australian GP with Repsol Honda teammate, Dani Pedrosa, starting from the second row in 5th after another dramatic day in Phillip Island.
Marc, who had a small crash in turn ten in this morning's FP3 session on his first exit with the hard rear tyre, recorded his fastest lap on his second run in qualifying - on lap 6 of 8 with a 1'28.120, claiming 2nd spot on the grid. Dani pushed and took his fastest lap on his final of 9 with a 1'28.748 placing him 5th.
With this 2nd position, Marc has now sealed the BMW M Award for Best Qualifier in 2013. His total of 322 points puts him out of reach from second place Lorenzo on 266, with just 50 points left to take in Japan and Valencia.
Today's hot topic has been tyre degradation as it has emerged that b oth harder option tyres are suffering badly on this new asphalt. The Moto2 class are also experiencing problems and Race Direction have decreased the number of race laps to thirteen in order to allow for this issue. For the MotoGP class, the race has been shortened to 26 laps with a restriction limiting no more than 14 consecutive laps - for the first time a flag-to-flag race under dry conditions, with riders changing the bike at least once to align with Race Direction's decision.
Marc Marquez 2nd 1'28.120
"The goal today was to get a front row start for tomorrow, and we achieved it. We knew that Jorge and Valentino would be very fast over a single lap with the new soft tyre compound, something that they showed today. Jorge, Dani and Valentino have a great pace, but I think I can stick with them. After the issues with tyres the race will now be a flag-to-flag, which for me is the first time so it will be interesting - even if I would have preferred a shorter race but this is the decision from Race Direction. We shall see if in the warmup we can try out some last minute things and then we will give 100%, as always"
Dani Pedrosa 5th 1'28.748
"I'll make no excuses; Qualifying didn't go well for us and I was not able to go fast. However, the practice sessions have been positive for us. Now we have been told that Race Direction have taken a decision to make the race 26 laps with a flag-to-flag. I don't think this is the best option but this is the scenario so we will do our best to prepare for it"
Row three for Ducati Team at Phillip Island
Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso took advantage of nearly ideal weather conditions today at Phillip Island Circuit to both qualify their Desmosedici GP13 race machines on row three for tomorrow's Australian Grand Prix.
The American in particular had a good pace throughout the day, and his best lap earned him the eighth spot on the grid. Dovizioso didn't manage to post a great time in the free-practice sessions and thus had to participate in Q1, but his time in Q2 was good enough to put him one spot behind his teammate.
Due to unexpectedly high rates of tyre wear on the new track surface, tomorrow's race has been shortened by one lap to twenty-six, and a mandatory pit stop will be implemented so that riders can change bikes. Use of the hard rear tyre is obligatory for MotoGP entrants, and riders may go a maximum of fourteen laps per tyre.
Nicky Hayden - Ducati Team, 8th (1:29.295)
"We've certainly been a lot closer than usual today, but I was definitely hoping to go faster than that in qualifying. I thought I might be able to get in the 28s, and I really should have, but I didn't get in a great lap. I made a couple mistakes on my best lap, and Iannone stood me up in one corner and cost us both time. I think using the ?flag-to-flag' format is the right choice for tomorrow. Safety is of the utmost importance, but we've also got a responsibility to put on a show for the fans."
Andrea Dovizioso - Ducati Team, 9th (1:29.660)
"The gap is large but considering that we had to do Q1, I'm happy with how we managed the situation. I was able to transfer using the only tyre I had left and then to improve my time in Q2. There was a bit less wind today and riding was easier. We have the same gap as usual, but I'm pleased to have done those times. I could've more or less matched Nicky's time, but I lost the rear in the last corner and nearly high-sided. I had to close the gas and lost at least three tenths. Tomorrow will be an unusual race. It will be the first time we do a ?flag-to-flag' format in dry conditions, but it's the same for everyone. It's not a problem for me, and I think it will be fun. Let's hope the weather conditions are good."