“Today it was truly dangerous to ride.” Signed, Aleix Espargaró. That’s all it would take to sum up the MotoGP day at Phillip Island, with a basically non-existent FP3 session, the FP4 session suspended and qualifiers postponed until tomorrow. The strong and inconsistent wind coming in off the ocean put the premier class riders to a had test when, in the middle of FP4, Race Direction called them in to express an opinion on the weather conditions, safety and the question of whether or not to end the day early.
“It was 19 against 3 - Espargaró said - And the nice thing is that race direction listened to the majority. We riders are an important part of this sport. The wind was strong and inconsistent, impossible to predict. I think that we made the right decision.”
The three against cancelling were Márquez, Pol Espargaró and Zarco (at least at first). What convinced them to “vote” that way?
“They knew that the conditions were at the limit - Aleix said - but in their opinion, for the qualifiers, since not everyone is on the track at the same time, it wouldn’t have been so dangerous. On the other hand, those who thought otherwise realized the risks.”
A fundamental element for this decision was Miguel Oliveira’s frightening crash on turn 1, fortunately without consequences.
“I was behind him - Espargaró continued - He went into turn 1 perfectly, but the wind struck the side of his fairing, moving him to the left beyond the curb and onto the grass. He slid and had a bad crash.”
What were the biggest problems to handle on the track?
"The problem wasn’t the power of the wind - Aleix said - but the fact that it wasn’t consistent. It was too difficult to control the bike, so stopping was the best choice. Turn 1 and turn 3 were the most critical because there was a lot of wind coming from the ocean and I had the sensation of turning only with the rear tire, with the front floating.”
The official weekend schedule was therefore changed, with the qualifiers which, as long as the conditions improve, will be held tomorrow morning.
“Even if the qualifiers were to be cancelled, it would be fine with me - Espargaró concluded - in the combined standings I’m tenth, but I would like to do the qualifiers, so I am serene, and I’ll be happy in any case.”
Audio collected by Matteo Aglio