Crutchlow splashes to top spot in FP1

● FP2 can­celled due to weather at Phillip Is­land ● Rossi de­moted to 20th af­ter lap count con­fu­sion

Malta Independent - - SPORT / CLASSIFIEDS -

The rain ar­rived and with it Cal Crutchlow vied with fel­low rain spe­cial­ists Valentino Rossi and Danilo Petrucci for top spot in a drenched first free prac­tice Moto GP ses­sion at Phillip Is­land.

The top three ap­peared to pay scant re­gard to the con­di­tions, which wors­ened as the ses­sion pro­gressed, as they reg­u­larly swapped po­si­tion at the top of the time sheets.

In the end, Crutchlow was fastest, his best time of 1m 40.957s 0.041s faster than Rossi, with Petrucci just a fur­ther 0.012s slower than his coun­try­man.

Jack Miller en­sured the damp home fans en­ter­tained through­out, as he led the early min­utes of the ses­sion, be­fore slip­ping to fourth.

The Aus­tralian will nonethe­less be pleased to end the morn­ing one place ahead of re­cently crowned cham­pion Marc Mar­quez.

An­drea Dovizioso was sixth fastest, ahead of Span­ish trio Mav­er­ick Viñales (sev­enth), Pol Es­par­garo (eighth) and Al­varo Bautista (ninth).

Nicky Hay­den be­gan the week­end promis­ingly, post­ing the tenth fastest time af­ter his first ses­sion aboard Miche­lin wet tyres since 2008.

Mike Jones was an im­pres­sive 14th at the be­gin­ning of his sec­ond week­end aboard a Moto GP ma­chine, while Jorge Lorenzo again strug­gled, end­ing the 45 min­utes 20th, 4.6s off Crutchlow's time.

Mean­while, Valentino Rossi will start day two of the Aus­tralian Moto GP from just 20th po­si­tion on the Phillip Is­land timesheets.

The Ital­ian su­per­star was de­moted from sec­ond to sec­ond-last in FP1 af­ter ex­ceed­ing the 10-lap limit Miche­lin placed on the ex­tra-soft front wet tyre.

The rea­son for the con­fu­sion was that Rossi and his Yamaha team be­lieved the limit re­ferred to ten fly­ing laps, and not his outand in-laps.

Miche­lin's Ni­co­las Gou­bert stated: "[Rossi] made a mis­take. Like Marc made a mis­take here three years ago here. It's easy [to do]."

The mis­take would have been of lit­tle con­se­quence had the wet weather not got even worse, caus­ing the de­layed af­ter­noon ses­sion to be can­celled af­ter 13 min­utes.

Rossi was among the six rid­ers to ven­ture out, but it was im­pos­si­ble to im­prove on his 20th place morn­ing time (set af­ter the can­celled run).

That means Rossi must now hope for bet­ter con­di­tions in the Satur­day morn­ing ses­sion, in or­der to claim the top ten place needed for di­rect trans­fer into Qual­i­fy­ing 2.

FP3 will be ex­tended by 15-min­utes to par­tially com­pen­sate for the lost yes­ter­day track time.

Re­turn­ing to the lap-limit, Rossi ad­mit­ted to be­ing con­fused by the need to re­strict track time on the ex­tra-soft front.

If, as is cur­rently fore­cast, the weather steadily im­proves be­tween now and the race, rid­ers could line-up on the grid with barely any dry time.

Rossi is 14 points ahead of team-mate Jorge Lorenzo in their bat­tle for sec­ond in the world cham­pi­onship. Lorenzo was only 19th quick­est yes­ter­day.

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