Downpour Down Under takes centre stage at Phillip Island


Rain, low temperatures and wind affect first day of free practice at Phillip Island for Brad Binder and Bo Bendsneyder.

Difficult conditions greeted the Moto3 riders on the first day of the Australian GP at Phillip Island. Track temperatures of 11°C and heavy rain made it a tough Friday for the lower cylinder class competitors, who set their best times in FP1. Red Bull KTM Ajo riders Bo Bendsneyder and Brad Binder completed the day with the ninth and twenty-second best laps, respectively, on the combined timesheet.

The first practice session began with the track already wet and fine rain complicating matters further. For rookie Bendsneyder, the adverse conditions were less of a problem as he took the time to study the layout. The Dutchman was inside the Top 10 at all times, completing the 40-minute run in ninth with a 1:51.741. In contrast, Binder waited until just over 10 minutes had elapsed to go out on track, riding only eleven laps –his best time of 1:52.711 putting him 22nd.

Conditions worsened further in the afternoon, making it impossible to improve lap times. Much more rain and cooler temperatures meant that the Red Bull KTM Ajo riders put in only five laps. After returning to the garage for their first stop, both Binder and Bendsneyder preferred to avoid risks and not go back out. Binder was sixth –1:55.971– and Bendsneyder thirteenth –1:56.825– in the session.

The weather isn’t expected to improve tomorrow. Both Binder and Bendsneyder will chase a good spot on the starting grid in qualifying for the Australian GP, which takes place from 1:35pm local time –4:35am CET.

Results (Combined practice time FP1-FP2)
1. Nicolo Bulega (KTM) 1:49.589
2. Niccolo Antonelli (Honda) 1:50.045 +0.456
3. Aron Canet (Honda) 1:50.126 +0.537
4. Gabriel Rodrigo (KTM) 1:50.525 +0.936
5. Andrea Migno (KTM) 1:51.131 +1.542
9. Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:51.741 +2.152
22. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) 1:52.711 + 3.122


“Despite the bad weather, today day went well. In the morning I used the first stint to get a feel for things. It was not bad, although I had a big scare in which I broke the dome of the bike with my head, but managed to avoid crashing. In the second session, on a wet surface, things went well. I felt comfortable and confident; in fact, I enjoyed riding. When we saw even more rain arriving we decided to leave it for today, not take any risks, and continue tomorrow.”


“Even though there was bad weather, I was able to confirm that I really like the track and I think I can do very well here because of my riding style. Even with the rain, I saw that I can go fast –and I think that can also be the case in the dry. Today in FP1 my laps were useful for learning the track, and in FP2 we tried going out but it was raining too much and we decided to return to the pits. In the end, the good news is we’ve seen that we can be fast in the rain, but although the forecast is not very clear, I hope that the track is dry for the rest of the weekend. For now we are ready to be quick in the wet.”