Back on track in Australia
The first day of free practice for the Australian Grand Prix took place at Phillip Island in fresh spring temperatures with the thermometers registering 15ºC in the morning and 18° C in the afternoon.
It was a good morning for Marco Melandri,
who set the fourth fastest time (1'30”863). The Italian spent the session adapting his bike setting for the race, with the aim of improving his feeling on the front end.
In the afternoon he ended with the eighth fastest time but he is looking forward to Sunday's race with confidence and optimism at a circuit where he celebrated the 250cc World Championship in 2002.
Toni Elias, determined to do well at one of his favourite circuits, struggled to get to grips with it on the first day. The Spaniard was fourteenth in the morning and dropped to eighteenth in the afternoon.
MARCO MELANDRI (8th, 1'31”154):
“We've gone from 40ºC in Malaysia to 15 degrees here in Phillip Island. I'm happy to be back at a circuit where I have so many good memories. This morning the bike worked quite well and I was able to lap at a pace we didn't manage to improve on in the afternoon. We are focused on preparing for the race, testing a lot of tyres alongside Michelin. We're not far off but we have to improve the balance of the bike. I'm still struggling to control the front under braking and on the entry into the corner.
I'm still confident though because the distance to the front guys is not so much and it looks as though a few of them even used a qualifying tyre this afternoon.”
TONI ELIAS (18th, 1'32”696):
“Today was a quite difficult day for us. We've worked really hard to solve the problems with the suspension and chassis. We don't seem to be able to find enough traction to get the rear tyre up to temperature. Obviously the cold track temperatures are not helping with this. So alongside the team and Michelin we will analyse the problem and try to improve tomorrow.”