At wild and windy Phillip Island
The Phillip Island circuit lived right up to its reputation for fickle weather today as the first day of practice for the 2007 Australian Grand Prix took place in perpetually changing conditions.
With bright sunshine at one moment
giving way to rain showers the next, the Repsol Honda squad made the most of limited consistent track time to begin the process of setting up the RC212Vs of Nicky Hayden and Dani Pedrosa ahead of Sunday's 27-lap race.
The morning session began with sunny skies and a wet but rapidly-drying track. For ten minutes the Repsol Honda riders circulated on treaded tyres before switching to intermediate Michelin rubber and then to slick tyres. However, with 20 minutes of the session to go it began raining again at the 4.448km (2.764-mile) circuit and the final portion of the session was completed in wet conditions.
The afternoon practice was even more disjointed, starting with bright sunshine and a dry track before the first shower after only four minutes saw the riders diving for the pits once again. With strong winds quickly drying the track after each light shower, Hayden and Pedrosa took every chance to continue working on their dry set-up.
Pedrosa lay in second place behind Casey Stoner for much of the session before being nudged to third in the final moments by Marco Melandri's Honda Gresini. Hayden finished the day in ninth place with a lap time of 1m 32.316s, 1.184s back from Stoner. However the American, who has claimed pole position for the last two years here, felt that was not a true reflection of his potential pace here and remains confident of improvements tomorrow.
A further hour of practice on Saturday morning precedes qualifying in the afternoon.
With the unsettled weather expected to continue over the weekend the 2007 Australian Grand Prix looks like being exciting and unpredictable.
“The conditions for practice today were changing all the time, from wet to dry and back again so quickly. It was also extremely windy – especially in the afternoon – and this made it really difficult to get consistent lap times going. I hope it's more stable for the race on Sunday otherwise it could really be chaos out there. Today we mainly took the chance to test tyres and we were able to learn a certain amount for the conditions and temperatures we encountered. With the wind though it was very difficult to fully commit and it was always necessary to ride with something in reserve. Still the pace is not too bad and there's room for improvement ahead of qualifying tomorrow. We'll just have to see what the weather throws at us.”
“What a strange day. It was like the big man was up there having a bit of a chuckle. This morning we started on rain tyres, went to intermediates then did about two laps on slicks, then it was raining again. At the end of the session it was back to slicks again. It was just about the same in the afternoon – we'd get in a few dry laps and then the rain would come. Conditions were quite tough and there was a lot of wind so it wasn't easy today, but Phillip Island at this time of year can be like that. I can't really say that we got a good direction with the set-up because every time we went out the track condition was a little bit different. Nonetheless I feel a little bit better than my position suggests and my ideal time put me in about 6th. We'll look at the data, make some changes tonight and see what the weather does tomorrow.”