Cortese leads the pack in opening 125 practice
German Sandro Cortese has topped the timesheets in opening practice for the 125cc category at the Iveco Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island on Friday.
The Aprilia rider, who won his maiden race in the category at Brno in the Czech Republic earlier this year, took over from Aprilia rider Nico Terol at the head of the times with two minutes remaining in the 40-minute session.
His lap of 1min 38.805secs was one-tenth of a second quicker than the championship-leading Spaniard.
Cortese said he had taken things easy at first as the riders adjusted to track conditions following an oil spill that led to the cancellation of qualifying for the Australian Historics support event.
“In the beginning I was a little bit careful,” said Cortese, “but in the end it was okay. I think we can attack the lap record – there is so much more grip for us once the MotoGP bikes have been out on track.”
Terol’s teammate and compatriot Hector Faubel was third, 0.327secs off top spot, while Frenchman Johann Zarco (Derbi) and Spanish rookie sensation Maverick Viñales (Aprilia) rounded out the top five.
Cortese, who sits fourth in the championship, set an early marker of 1:40.662 after 11 minutes before Terol took control of the session after 19 minutes. The Spaniard, who leads Zarco by 31 points in the championship with three races remaining, continually lowered the time before being edged by Cortese on the German’s 16th lap of the session.
Terol was on course to depose Cortese from top spot on his final lap, but was held up by traffic on the run down to Turn 10 and had to settle for second.
New South Welshman Josh Hook (Aprilia) was the best of the four Australian wildcards in 30th place, feeling far more comfortable on his own machine this year than on the leased bike he rode as a wild card in 2010.
Fellow wildcards Nicky Diles (Aprilia) and Tom Hatton (Honda), making a rapid adjustment from his normal Australian Superbike machine, were 32nd and 34th respectively.
Alex Phillis, the other Australian wildcard, was 35th and last in the session, completing just four laps and struggling to get a clean run in on the busy circuit.
A second 40-minute practice session for the 125cc bikes takes place at 2.15pm on Friday afternoon.