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PREVIEW: Saturday just got a whole lot more interesting at Phillip Island

Friday, 20 October 2023

In unexpected circumstances, an extraordinary day of Grand Prix racing awaits on Saturday in the 2023 MotoGP™ Guru by Gryfyn Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix.

The difficult weather forecast for Sunday has prompted the sport’s governing body, the FIM, and MotoGP™ promoter, Dorna Sports, to swap the Grand Prix and the Tissot Sprint effectively. The 27-lap Grand Prix will now occur at 3:10 pm in what promises to be a packed program.

The day will kick off with Practice sessions for Moto3™ (8:40 am) and Moto2™ (9:25 am). The final Practice session for MotoGP™ will start at 10:10 am, with Qualifying due to start at 10:50 am.


The two-stage Moto3™ Qualifying sessions will start at 12:50 am and Moto2™ at 1:45 pm, followed by the MotoGP™ race.

The fight for Qualifying is going to be crucial across all three categories. While KTM dominated the Friday afternoon session, Pecco Bagnaia has shown all season that he is the best rider in racing for turning a tough Friday into a solid Saturday. His 18-point lead will be critical in how he approaches the now-longer Saturday race.

TICKETS: There are not one but two premier class races at this year's MotoGP™ Guru by Gryfyn Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix 2023. Purchase tickets today!

Just last week, the current World Champion came from outside the top 12 to take the win in Indonesia. Surely he will hope he does not need to repeat that today...

Prima Pramac’s Jorge Martin is well-placed and the challengers to the Ducatis look to be the KTMs of Brad Binder and Jack Miller. But Aprilia and Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo will have as good a chance as anyone of upsetting the Ducati title aspirants.

In Moto2™ Phillip Island is a bit of an outlier as a circuit. The Kalexes outnumber the Boscoscuro machines 26-2 and the top five riders in the championship are aboard the German-built bikes.

But the Italian Boscoscuros thrive on the fast changes of direction down under and Fermin Aldeguer dominated Friday – and teammate Alonso Lopez was ninth fastest in Practice. Title points leader Pedro Acosta may just focus on the Big Picture and settle for a safe grid position to take into Sunday’s race.

Joel Kelso takes Aussie hopes into Saturday from ninth on Friday and looks likely to advance to Q2, from where the CFMOTO racer can take on the best in the class. Points leader Jaume Masia looks like the sole Honda contender and will be keen to put a tough Friday in behind him for Leopard Racing when he takes on the KTM and Husqvarna-mounted hordes.

The young’uns will take to the fabulous Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit twice on Saturday for seven-lap races, the fleet of identical Yamahas always putting on a great show that usually goes down to the final dash for the chequered flag.