The spectacular flow and challenging climate of Phillip Island welcomed back the growl of MotoGP for the first time since 2019 and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Brad Binder was the quickest KTM RC16 racer as the South African qualified 16th in Australia.
- Binder only two tenths of a second from Q2 on his first MotoGP outing in Victoria state
- Winner of the previous race, Miguel Oliveira rides to 21st place
- Home Grand Prix ahead for Tech3 KTM Factory Racing’s Remy Gardner in 19th as Raul Fernandez sits 22nd on the grid
- Ivan Ortola occupies 3rd place and the Moto3™ front row with his KTM RC4
- Augusto Fernandez 2nd fastest and on the front row in Moto2™
The Animoca Brands Australian Grand Prix instigated the final three race spell of the 2022 MotoGP season and with events in Malaysia and Spain left to run in a tight time span. The exposed but wonderfully natural and fast circuit 90 miles from Melbourne was open to MotoGP action for the first time since 2019, which meant three of the four KTM RC16 riders were novices in finding their markers around the 4.4km course and Miguel Oliveira had only contested the premier class once at the venue.
As ever, Phillip Island was battered by the elements. Torrential rainfall flooded sections of the track in the build-up to the Grand Prix and left slick sections through a mercifully dry Friday program. Cool temperatures and strong winds were other common traits as the teams also had to change bike set-up to cope with the relatively low braking demands, high-speed turning and lack of front-end ‘load’ that makes Phillip Island such a contrast to the previous sites in Japan and Thailand.
On Saturday the weather remained bright and less breezy compared to Friday. Binder and Oliveira combed their configuration options in search of better competitiveness for a ‘hot lap’ and while they were able to make gains in terms of their race pace potential for Sunday, were unable to break out of Q1. Binder came the closest and ranked 6th (for 16th in the general ranking) just a few tenths of a second away from making it to Q2 while Oliveira had to accept 21st on the grid.
Phillip Island was memorable for Tech3 KTM Factory Racing’s Remy Gardner and the Moto2 world champion’s MotoGP debut on home turf. The Australian was 9th in Q1 and therefore sits 19th on the grid for Sunday while teammate Raul Fernandez was 22nd fastest.
A western and European TV audience will have to set their alarms early to catch Moto3 at 02.00 CET, Moto2 at 03.20 and then MotoGP at 05.00.
Brad Binder: “We need to accept that it’s been a difficult weekend so far but in FP4 I felt like we made a big step forward and I really felt comfortable on the bike. I was able to improve quite a lot and find some consistency, even if our all-out lap-time is not where it needs to be. There was a lot less wind today and that made things easier for us but we need to be able to carry more speed through these fast, flowing sections. I know what we need for tomorrow and how I can get better also, so we’ll aim to catch up during the race. It will be a long one and tire wear will be huge. We’ll come out fighting.”
Remy Gardner: “I am a bit disappointed with the position because we did not manage to put together a perfect fast lap, although mine was still good. We could have probably done better, maybe 1’28.5, but we are still the second fastest KTM bike today. This track is not ideal for our package, but we are trying to make the most out of it with hard brakings and just going for it. We will try to have a good race at home tomorrow.”
Miguel Oliveira: “We improved our lap-time but the other guys were much more competitive. We couldn’t set our reference on Friday and this cost us quite a bit of time and the timing of our exits during the sessions were not the best as I could not grab a slipstream to lower the lap-time further. We have quite a job to do tomorrow but looking at the general race pace I feel that it is possible to do better.”
Raul Fernandez: “Mixed feelings at the end of today because we had a good FP3, but then the FP4 and Q1 sessions were less good. I struggled with a hard tyre, and in qualifying, when we used a soft tyre at the rear, the temperature went down and I struggled getting a fast lap straight away. By the time I got it warm again, it was used. During the second run, I felt good and was able to do a fast lap rapidly. Tomorrow we will have a difficult choice to make regarding tyres for the race.”
KTM GP Academy
Many of the current Moto3/Moto2 runners were discovering Phillip Island for the first time with their respective machinery and it was Spaniard Ivan Ortola who clocked the fastest lap on his KTM RC4 to place 3rd in Moto3 Q2. The Spaniard will fill a slot on the front row of the grid for the 23-lap race on Sunday and was chased by Red Bull KTM Tech3’s Deniz Öncü in 8th and Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Jaume Masia in 9th; both less than a second from the Pole Position effort by Ayumu Sasaki. Daniel Holgado classified 13th in Q2 while Adrian Fernandez was not far away in 15th.
Augusto Fernandez holds a slender 1.5 point lead in the Moto2 standings as the series comes down to the final deciding events. The Red Bull KTM Ajo racer was among the pacesetters on Friday in only his second crack at Phillip Island and ended Saturday’s agenda 2nd quickest. Pedro Acosta was a ‘PI’ rookie and the teenager rode to 8th on the grid. Moto2 will be run over 25-laps on Sunday.
Augusto Fernandez: “I’m happy with the front row and the lap I managed and the team gave me a good bike to do the job today. I’m feeling good for tomorrow and also with the pace; the rest of the guys are going really fast but we’ll hope for the best.”
Results Qualifying MotoGPAnimoca Brand Australian Grand Prix
1. Jorge Martin (ESP) Ducati 1:27.767
2. Marc Marquez (ESP) Honda +0.013
3. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA) Ducati +0.186
4. Aleix Espargaro (ESP) Aprilia +0.190
5. Fabio Quartararo (FRA) Yamaha +0.206
16. Brad Binder (RSA) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (Q1) 1:28.652
19. Remy Gardner (AUS) Tech3 KTM Factory Racing (Q1) 1:28.820
21. Miguel Oliveira (POR) Red Bull KTM Factory Racing (Q1) 1:28.859
22. Raul Fernandez (ESP) Tech3 KTM Factory Racing (Q1) 1:28.966
Results Qualifying Moto2 Animoca Brand Australian Grand Prix
1. Fermin Aldeguer (ESP) 1:32.233
2. Augusto Fernandez (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +0.073
3. Alonso Lopez (ESP) +0.310
8. Pedro Acosta (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +0.639
Results Qualifying Moto3 Animoca Brand Australian Grand Prix
1. Ayumu Sasaki (JPN) Husqvarna 1:35.854
2. Sergio Garcia (ESP) GASGAS +0.187
3. Ivan Ortola (ESP) KTM +0.725
4. Carlos Tatay (ESP) CFMOTO +0.817
5. Diogo Moreira (BRA) KTM +0.826
8. Deniz Öncü (TUR) Red Bull KTM Tech3 +0.942
9. Jaume Masia (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +0.998
13. Daniel Holgado (ESP) Red Bull KTM Ajo +1.176
15. Adrian Fernandez (ESP) Red Bull KTM Tech3 +1.253