Phillip Island : Fortuna Honda - Preview
A round the world trip continues for the MotoGP paddock this weekend, moving from Malaysia to Australia for the next race of the season at Phillip Island.
The Australian Grand Prix is the fourteenth round of the season and
promises to be crucial to the outcome of the title chase, with five riders still holding out hope of outright glory.
Marco Melandri, fifth in the series on 168 points and with a 46 point gap to leader Nicky Hayden, is keen to once again show his true potential at a circuit he particularly likes .It was here that the Italian lifted the 250cc world title in 2002 at the age of 20 and he currently holds the MotoGP lap record there having clocked 1'30”332 last season.
Marco Melandri: "I can't wait to race at Phillip Island, a track I really love. I'm glad to be getting straight back on my Honda after a disappointing race at Sepang. I'm motivated to have a good race and get back to the competitive level I know I should be at. The championship is really difficult for me now but I will still be going out to give it my best shot every Sunday. In Malaysia we worked hard over the three days to find the right feeling with the front end. Hopefully we can start off on the right foot at Phillip Island, a track which requires a perfect set-up."
Toni Elias: "The team are doing a great job at the moment and we're taking steps forward every time. That's why I'm really looking forward to the next round at Phillip Island, a circuit I really like a lot. The design is beautiful and the track is one of the fastest and most spectacular in the world.
Just the speed makes it very technical and difficult to understand, it's very demanding. I've always had good results here – firstly in the 250s and then last year in MotoGP, when we had two really good days of practice and I qualified seventh. Hopefully I can do that again this year but with a better end result."
THE TRACK – Right on the coast, the Phillip Island circuit is perhaps the favourite of most of the riders, a simple and original layout that casts the mind back to days of old. Here there is no huge grandstand looming over the start-finish straight as there are at so many modern circuits; the grey of the track mixes with the rolling green hills and the bright blue of the ocean. Adding to the natural beauty of the place, the track is technical and complete, characterised by slow sections mixed with fast, hard acceleration, strong braking and frequent changes in line and elevation.
A LAP WITH TONI ELIAS – "Phillip Island has some of the fastest corners in the world and it is a spectacular and fun place to be – for the riders and for the fans. It is a technical track which requires a perfect bike set-up. The main unknown is the weather because the climate can change very quickly and within a matter of a few minutes it can go from bright sunshine to rain. There is also a constant wind that whips up onto the circuit from the sea."
MARCO MELANDRI AND PHILLIP ISLAND – Marco has celebrated victory at this track on two occasions in the past – firstly in the 125cc class in 1999 and then secondly in 2002 when he took the win and the world title in 250. In total Marco has visited the Phillip Island three times. Last year he missed out by a hair's breadth, finishing fourth in a truly spectacular race.