3rd for Espargaro in Australian Grand Prix Free Practice as weather causes Qualification cancellation

MotoGP 2019 - Round 17, Phillip Island (AUS)
Pol Espargaro KTM RC16 MotoGP Australia 2019

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The seventeenth round of MotoGP visited the scenic, fast and spectacular circuit of Phillip Island in southern Australia and a typically changeable climate played havoc with the Practice and Qualification schedule. Strong, cold gusts of wind proved to be a difficult and even hazardous obstacle, causing Miguel Oliveira’s fast FP4 crash at Doohan Corner. The track timetable was also interrupted by bouts of rain.

Pol Espargaro moved up the standings after a challenging and damp outing on Friday. He found the speed to register the 3rd fastest time on his KTM RC16 in Free Practice 3 and then repeated the standing in FP4 until the session was red-flagged with just over ten minutes remaining. Oliveira had set the 10th fastest lap before his spill and the Portuguese was lucky to escape unharmed. Mika Kallio rode to 14th in FP4 while Hafizh Syahrin was 21st with just two attempts at a fast circulation.  

MotoGP will enter warm-up and then a Q1 and Q2 programme before the races on Sunday. Espargaro, Oliveira and Kallio improved their positions but the lap-times were slower than the dry FP2 session on Friday so all four Red Bull KTM Factory Racing and Red Bull KTM Tech3 riders will have to tackle the Q1 run starting at 01.20 CET.

Pol Espargaro: “I’m happy with 3rd position but those were some tricky conditions for sure. The wind was blowing quite strong but not stronger than in FP3. Then the wind was higher – we have a lot of tools to measure that – and we all did the session. In the end the decision was made for safety and I don’t have a problem with that. We’ll need to really push in qualifying and there won’t be much time between that and the race. If you crash here in a fast corner then it tends to destroy the bike! Then there will be no time to repair it. It’s something we realise and we’ll have to push twice; firstly to get through the Q1!. Our risk will be higher but luckily we have two bikes in the pitbox. It will be a long, long day and we’ll try as much as we can.”

Mika Kallio: “Today is a bit of a disaster because of the weather and the biggest problem was the wind that was blowing so hard that it was complicated to ride. We couldn’t really learn anything compared to yesterday. In the end I think it was the right decision to cancel the qualification because – as we saw with Oliveira – the wind could just bring you off the line and off the track. We need to see for tomorrow. The wind should be less and we’ll be able to ride. We can do it in the cold and also rain but we couldn’t in the wind.”

Miguel Oliveira: “There is not much to say about today. The conditions where very tricky for everyone. I could not avoid crashing in the first corner because of the wind. I was very unlucky. We just need to be glad that I’m in one piece and I will see if I’m fit to ride tomorrow because at the moment my hands are the biggest problem. I’ll check in the morning and see my condition.”

Hafizh Syahrin: “Due to the weather conditions we managed to do only two laps today. We saw Miguel crashing terribly after the wind pushed him out, we need to think about our safety first. We will see what tomorrow is going to bring. I hope we can ride, make a good race and please the fans.”

Moto2 & Moto3

Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Brad Binder came through a disrupted Moto2 Qualification process to secure 2nd place on the grid with his KTM RC12. The South African was just three tenths of a second behind Jorge Navarro when Q2 ended. Four KTMs breached the top ten with Jorge Martin in 5th, Marco Bezzecchi in 9th spot and Iker Lecuona in 10th. In Moto3 Aron Canet and Albert Arenas will both set off for the 23 lap race on Sunday morning from the first row of the grid as they fill 2nd and 3rd positions respectively behind Pole-sitter Marcos Ramirez. Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Can Öncü made Q2 and will fill 16.

Races: October 27th, 2019 – Moto3 02.00 | Moto2 03.20 | MotoGP 05.00 CET

Results FP4 MotoGP Phillip Island 2019

1. Marc Marquez (ESP), Honda 1:31.185
2. Maverick Viñales (ESP), Yamaha +0.351
3. Pol Espargaro (ESP), Red Bull KTM +0.762
4. Alex Rins (ESP) Suzuki +0.929
5. Franco Morbidelli (ITA), Yamaha +0.931
10. Miguel Oliveira (POR), Red Bull KTM Tech3 +1.677
14. Mika Kallio (FIN), Red Bull KTM +1.911
21. Hafizh Syahrin (MYS), Red Bull KTM Tech3 +4.957

Results Qualifying Moto2 Phillip Island 2019

1. Jorge Navarro (ESP) Speed Up 1:33.565
2. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Ajo +0.321
3. Luca Marini (ITA) Kalex +0.369
5. Jorge Martin (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +0.376

Results Qualifying Moto3 Phillip Island 2019

1. Marcos Ramirez (ESP) Honda 1:38.976
2. Aron Canet (ESP) KTM +0.184
3. Albert Arenas (ESP) KTM +0.268
16. Can Öncü (TUR) Red Bull KTM Ajo +2.465

Press & PR Manager
Sebastian Kuhn
+43 676 599 0084

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