Zulfahmi Khairuddin and Luis Salom amongst fastest five


Red Bull KTM Ajo riders begin Australian GP with third and fourth best times, respectively. Arthur Sissis fourteenth at home track.


An intense day of work started the action at Phillip Island on Friday. The Red Bull KTM Ajo riders began with very good results in the first practice sessions of the weekend. Zulfahmi Khairrudin, third, and Luis Salom, fourth, were in the top five in both sessions, whilst Arthur Sissis took an important step forward in the second run for fourteenth. The difference between the home rider and the top spot was less than a second today.

Salom and Zulfahmi Khairuddin were amongst the fastest riders in adapting to the new asphalt on the Australian track and the typical gusts of wind. The Spanish Red Bull KTM Ajo rider took the best time –1:38.332– in the first free practice, temporarily setting a new circuit record, and Zulfahmi Khairuddin followed closely with the third fastest time –1:38.538. Arthur Sissis, in twenty-fourth with a 1:39.937 lap, could not enjoy the entire 40 minutes of the session after a Turn 1 crash in the first few minutes of the day.

All three Red Bull KTM Ajo riders improved their times in the second practice session, where the differences between riders was tighter than ever. Zulfahmi Khairuddin –1:38.224– and Luis Salom –1:38.235– pushed right through to the last lap to set their best times and place back in the top 5. Also going faster was Arthur Sissis –1:39.181– who tried out various setups for his KTM.

The starting grid for the Australian GP will be decided on Saturday in qualifying. Zulfahmi Khairuddin will try to improve on his second row from last year, whilst Arthur Sissis and Luis Salom will seek to do better than their third row start from 2012.

Results (Combined practice time FP1-FP2)
1. Maverick Viñales (KTM) 1:38.198
2. Jonas Folger (Kalex KTM) 1:38.220  +0.022
3. Zulfahmi Khairuddin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:38.224  +0.026
4. Luis Salom (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:38.235 +0.037
5. Niccolo Antonelli (FTR Honda) 1:38.383 +0.185
14. Arthur Sissis (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:39.181  +0.983

Luis Salom >> Audio
“The truth is that this first day of the Grand Prix of Australia has been difficult. We didn’t go badly in either session, but the results have not been as good as we had expected. We are still missing something to find the perfect feeling with the bike, so we’re working to improve on that and go faster tomorrow.”

Arthur Sissis >> Audio
“Things have not been too bad today. During the first session I had a crash on lap four when going into the first corner, the fastest of the circuit. Through that I missed almost half the session before I could go back out. In the second session we made some changes to the configuration of the bike and that brought us results –we went faster. However, it was not enough to get further up the timesheets. It’s very tight and the first fifteen riders are practically just a second apart. So we have to be very precise and seek small improvements on different parts of the Phillip Island circuit –especially the first corner.”

Zulfahmi Khairuddin >> Audio (English) // English (Bahasa)
“I think now is the time to thank all the medical services and physios for their help over these past four days, ensuring that I am as fit as possible here in Australia.
Today I felt comfortable on the bike. The team did a very good job. Tomorrow will be another day, but I hope to keep amongst the top riders –especially in qualifying. Our pace is very good, so tomorrow we shall try to continue in the same way.”


* Audio solely for radio use