Phillip Island MotoGP test: Petrucci tops day one

Rain hampers the first day of the Phillip Island test

RAIN hampered the first day of the Phillip Island test as the majority of MotoGP riders sheltered inside the pits until the final hour where Petrucci made the most of dry track time to set the fastest time of the day.

It is well known that the Phillip Island Circuit can be subject to wet weather even in the Australian summer and the first day of the second official MotoGP test has proven to be no exception. 

Riders arrived at the circuit to overcast skies and a wet track. Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa took to the track first on wet tyres followed by fellow Honda riders Tito Rabat and Cal Crutchlow. 

Both Repsol Honda riders, Pedrosa and Marc Marquez, now have the latest 2016 'evo' engine whilst Crutchlow and Rabat have access to the 2015 engine and 2016 engine which have a smiliar spec to that which the factory test tested in Valencia at the end of 2016. 

Due to the rain no major tests for any manufacturer could take place, but this time did allow teams and riders to test and understand the Michelin tyres more as well as the Magneti Marelli software under wet conditions. 

Movistar Yamaha's Valentino Rossi ventured out with the 2016 bike featuring the fuel tank in the rear whilst team-mate, Jorge Lorenzo completed 22 laps in the wet - the most wet laps of any rider.

As the first day of testing approached the midway point, the rain eased and Marquez to venture out on the new intermediate tyre. The Spaniard led for the majority of the session with a 1:35.354 as only 11 riders had chosen to take to the track in the wet. 

The final two hours of the test saw the track beginning to dry and a flurry of riders headed out thanks to a dry spell opened in the closing hour. Times quickly dropped as the Octo Pramac Yakhnich pair of Danilo Petrucci and Scott Redding fitted slicks and the pair set a 1-2 on the time-sheets until the closing stages of the session.

Maverick Viñales and Bradley Smith were amongst the biggest improvers in the final 20 minutes as the pair pulled themselves into the top three and within a second of Petrucci’s best time.

Petrucci’s time of 1:31.764 topped the day, but it was still two seconds off Marquez’s fastest race lap of 2015 - a 1’29.280. Meanwhile his team-mate Scott Redding was fourth and 1.1s behind after completing a total of 41 laps - the most of any rider.

Both Crutchlow and Rossi, who had done the majority of their laps in the wet and missed the first dry window, entered the circuit in the closing minutes to improve to fifth and sixth. Pol Espargaro was another to benefit from the improving track conditions as he set a 1:33.126 to place him seventh.

Australia’s Jack Miller was back and riding his Marc VDS Racing Team Honda for the first time since breaking his right leg in a training incident. Miller and his team had aimed to do just 25 laps a day in order to assess the condition of his still healing leg, but conditions reduced his lap count to just six on Wednesday.

The 21-year-old still set a time of 1:33.992 for the ninth fastest time of the day which placed him behind Yonny Hernandez on the Aspar MotoGP Tesm Ducati GP14.2. The Columbian finished ahead of both factory Ducati riders of Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso. Iannone finished in tenth after rain disrupted the majority of his quick laps whilst Dovizioso didn't register a time.

In 11th was Rabat, the only rookie in the 2016 MotoGP World Championship, with a time of 1’35.273 on his 28th lap and leading Marquez. In 12th, Marquez did not improve on his 1:35.354 set earlier in the day. With just two laps on track Aleix Espargaro closed the first day of testing in Phillip Island in 13th just ahead of Eugene Laverty.

2015 MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo ended 16th ahead of Dani Pedrosa as neither rider improved upon their wet weather times. Fortunately, testing resumes tomorrow, the 18th February, at 09:45 AM Local Time where riders are hoping for more consistent and dry conditions.

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