If first practice for Sunday’s 2015 Pramac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island confirmed suspicions, the second session issued a few reminders.
Chief amongst them: Marc Marquez is still world champion and he’s still here. Despite his fractured finger the Spanish Honda rider set the quickest time of the day with a 1:29.383, edging out Jorge Lorenzo’s Yamaha by just 0.050 in a high-speed and highly entertaining end to a sunlit session.
Maverick Vinales performed superbly to put the Ecstar Suzuki in third place in a 45-minute session that saw the top 17 riders covered by less than a second and a half.
Fourth was ‘The Maniac’, Andrea Iannone on the Ducati, ahead of the man who won the last race Motegi, Dani Pedrosa on the second Repsol bike.
Danilo Petrucci also did well to fire the Pramac Ducati into seventh spot ahead of Bradley Smith’s Tech 3 Yamaha. The Englishman is one of only two riders with a perfect points-scoring record in 2015: the other is championship leader Valentino Rossi, who could manage only ninth-fastest time as he and several other riders experimented with Bridgestone’s new asymmetric front tyre.
Australian Jack Miller ended up just outside the top 10 with a best lap of 1:30.127 on his LCR Honda, while compatriots Ant West (AB Racing Honda) and Damian Cudlin (E-motion Iodaracing ART) were again 24th and 25th.
Moto2: Sam blows a gasket
Alex Rins fired in a superb last lap of 1:33.106 on his Spanish Yellow Pages HP40 Kalex to edge Briton Sam Lowes out in the second free practice for Sunday’s Moto2 sessionx.
In fact the session ended with Speed Up rider Lowes letting off steam at his team, apparently because they sent him back out on a badly used rear tyre while he was in first place, where he ended the morning session.
Lowes still finished up second and his troubles were as nothing compared to Tito Rabat’s. The current world champion was determined to ride on despite the handicap of a broken left arm – and it looked as if he had paid a heavy price when he came off the Marc VDS Kalex at Turn 11.
The Spaniard, who moves up to MotoGP next season, was taken to the Medical Centre but it was later confirmed that he had inflicted no further damage on himself and a decision on whether he races on Sunday will be left to him and his team.
Lorenzo Baldassari was the afternoon’s surprise package, slipping in a superb 1: 33.305 right at the end to go third on the Forward Kalex, with Takaaki Nakagami fourth on Idemitsu Team Honda Asia’s Kalex and Jonas Folger fifth on the similar AGR entry.
World champion-in-waiting Johann Zarco finished a quiet day in ninth place, just under half a second off the pace, while Aussie Josh Hook, sitting in for Dominqiue Aegerter on the Technomag Interwetten Kalex, improved his FP1 time by over a second to finish the day in 25th.
Moto3: Out of Danny’s clutches?
The second Moto3 practice session saw Spaniard Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Honda, 1:37.531) the fastest man on circuit from Red Bull KTM Ajo teammates Brad Binder (1:37.698) and Miguel Oliveira (1:37.803)
After light rain fell just before the session, the majority of the big guns didn't venture out on the circuit until about 20 minutes to go — and world championship leader Danny Kent (Leopard Racing Honda) didn't set a time at all.
"You are not going to learn anything too much in these conditions," said Kent. "Anyway, I had a good feeling with the bike this morning so I am not too worried."
He was soon after: what felt like a slipping clutch had the Englishman looking tense in his discussions with the team, and the diagnosis seems to be that it’s not the clutch – and there is hard work ahead to sort it for Saturday.
Australia's Remy Gardner (1:38.456) was a big improver this afternoon, lapping about 0.6 seconds faster on his CIP Mahindra machine. That was good enough to complete the session in 13th position, which will leave the Aussie teenager in a buoyant mood ahead of FP3 on Saturday morning and then qualifying at 1:35pm.
Italian Romano Fenati (SKY Racing Team VR46 KTM, 1:37.891) was fourth in FP2 from morning faller Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold Honda, 1:38.046) and Philipp Oettl (Schedl GP Racing KTM, 1:38.176).
Meantime, Isaac Vinales (RBA Racing Team KTM), cousin of MotoGP rider Maverick Vinales, crashed heavily for the second time in as many sessions.
Oliveira, courtesy of his 1:37.209 in FP1, was the fastest Moto3 rider on track today. Kent was second, from Navarro, Binder, Efren Vazquez (Leopard Racing Honda) and Fenati. Gardner was 17th overall, with his countrymen Olly Simpson (KTM) and Matt Barton (Suus Honda) down the timesheets in 35th and 36th.