Round 01 Yamaha Finance Australian Round 22 - 24 Feb
Lowes Leads The Way For Yamaha on Opening Day in Phillip Island.
It was Pata Yamaha WorldSBK rider Alex Lowes who ended the opening day of the 2019 Superbike World Championship season as the highest placed of the four Yamaha riders. The Briton's time of 1'30.783 during today's second free practice session securing him fifth place on the timesheet. Pata Yamaha teammate, Michael van der Mark, ended the day in ninth position, with GRT Yamaha Supported WorldSBK rider, Sandro Cortese, two places further up the order in seventh. Marco Melandri endured a difficult opening day in Phillip Island, narrowly missing out on the top ten to eventually finish in 13th position.
Both 50-minute practice sessions today were held in cool but dry conditions, with the wind making its presence felt around the southern part of the 4.445km Phillip Island circuit. Both Pata Yamaha riders used this morning’s first free practice to confirm the set up direction from the two day test earlier in the week, before running a race simulation to evaluate rear tyre endurance this afternoon.
Lowes and van der Mark managed to improve their lap times in the cooler conditions this afternoon, but both struggled with excessive tyre wear towards the end of their long runs. The two Pata Yamaha riders will work through the data with their respective crews this evening, to identify an alternative set up that puts less stress on the rear tyre around the particularly abrasive Phillip Island circuit.
GRT Yamaha’s Cortese was the fastest of the four Yamaha mounted riders in this morning’s opening free practice session, which he finished in fifth position with a time of 1’30.850. With a riding style that doesn’t stress the rear tyre as much as some of his rivals, Cortese opted out of doing a race simulation this afternoon. Instead the reigning World Supersport Champion tested the new tyre supplied specifically for Sunday morning’s Superpole sprint race, with mixed results.
It proved a difficult opening day for Melandri, who went the wrong way with set up as he looked to build on improvements found during the two-day test at Phillip Island earlier in the week. Despite the setback, the Italian remains confident that, together with his crew, he can find a solution ahead of tomorrow’s third and final free practice session.
The WorldSBK riders will be back on track for FP3 at 10.00 tomorrow, before heading into the new single 25-minute Superpole session at 12.15. Lights out for the first WorldSBK race of the 2019 season will be at 15.00.