Newly-crowned MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo was the quickest rider around a damp Phillip Island this afternoon ahead of Ducati's home-hero Casey Stoner.
After a two-hour delay to proceedings due to heavy wind and rain, the opening practice sessions for the Iveco Australian Grand Prix at Phillip Island eventually took place on Friday afternoon, and newly-crowned MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo was the quickest rider around the damp circuit.
Setting the standard with a time of 1:41.146 the Fiat Yamaha rider underlined his determination to round off his title-winning 2010 campaign in winning style, with conditions difficult because of the earlier rain and a drying track.
“Today was the first day on the bike after we won the title and I am still very happy,” Lorenzo enthused. “We can’t stop now, we have to keep going and finish this season in the best way possible, working for the future.
“The conditions today were really hard – wet, cold and windy. I am very happy to be so fast in rain, because it didn’t use to be this way, but we need to be prepared because it could be a hard weekend.
“I would like to ride in the dry, of course, but we will have to wait and see what happens.”
Home-hero Casey Stoner was next up on the timesheets, 0.334s down on Lorenzo’s time as the Australian, who has won at his home circuit for the past three seasons, brought his factory Desmosedici GP10 home ahead of Ducati teammate Nicky Hayden.
The American was in turn 0.151s off Stoner as the riders began to see a dry line forming towards the end of the hour-long session, but were unable to make the most of it as damp areas were still abundant.
Marco Simoncelli was fourth quickest as the San Carlo Honda Gresini rookie battled rear grip to set a best time of 1:41.881, with his teammate Marco Melandri fifth and the final rider to get within a second of Lorenzo.
Andrea Dovizioso (Repsol Honda) completed the top six and will be hopeful of challenging for victory again after second place finishes in the last two weekends.
Coming in seventh fastest was last week’s race winner and outgoing champion Valentino Rossi on his Fiat Yamaha M1, with Colin Edwards (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Randy de Puniet (LCR Honda) and Loris Capirossi (Rizla Suzuki) all in the top ten.
Back on track for the first time since he fractured his collarbone in Japan exactly two weeks ago Dani Pedrosa completed seven laps, before concluding his session just before the half-hour mark having posted a best time of 1:51.210 on wet tyres.
Similarly looking to avoid any unnecessary risks as he completed just three laps in the session, Ben Spies (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was also a passive bystander for the majority of the hour.
Alex de Angelis was the Moto2 pace man in the first practice for the intermediate class, setting the best lap of the hour-long session with an effort of 1:36.295 on his JiR Motobi machine.
That placed De Angelis just 18-thousandths of a second ahead of 17-year-old British talent Scott Redding, who was second fastest in the session on his Suter machine.
The Marc VDS Racing Team rider, who has been in fine form of late in practice, was just under four-tenths quicker than Fonsi Nieto (G22 Holiday Gym).
Julián Simón (Mapfre Aspar) and Andrea Iannone (Fimmco Speed Up), who are still closely contesting second spot in the championship, were separated by 0.252s in fourth and fifth respectively, with Jules Cluzel (Forward Racing), Mike di Meglio (Mapfre Aspar) and Roberto Rolfo (Italtrans STR) completing the top eight.
Sergio Gadea (Tenerife 40 Pons) experienced a difficult session, crashing twice, whilst Yonny Hernández (Blusens-STX) and Simone Corsi (JiR Moto2) also had falls, the latter of whom had a nasty highside at turn 11.
Australians Wayne Maxwell, Alex Cudlin and Anthony West were 19th, 28th and 29th respectively.
The 125s were first off on Friday afternoon and had to deal with the toughest track conditions as the rain continued to fall sporadically.
When the action had finally got underway it was British rider Bradley Smith (Bancaja Aspar) who set the best time of the session with a lap of 1:54.547.
Conditions appeared to get worse before they got better, but just after the halfway point of the hour-long session they began to improve noticeably and subsequently so did the lap times.
Following Smith on the timesheet at the conclusion of the session was championship leader Marc Márquez (Red Bull Ajo Motorsport) at +0.925s on the lead time, with 16-year-old Brit Danny Kent (Lambretta Reparto Corse) putting in an impressive display to place third at +1.108s on Smith.
Sandro Cortese (Avant Mitsubishi Ajo), Nico Terol (Bancaja Aspar), Johann Zarco (WTR San Marino Team), Pol Espargaró (Tuenti Racing) and Tomoyoshi Koyama (Racing Team Germany) completed the top eight.
Understandably considering the conditions there were several crashers during the session; Luis Salom (Stipa-Molenaar Racing), Marcel Schrötter (Interwetten Honda 125), Adrián Martín (Team Aeroport de Castelló), Simone Grotzkyj (Fontana Racing), Esteve Rabat (Blusens-STX) and wild cards Jordan Zamora (Eurotwins Brisbane) and Nicholas Diles (Aprilia RSW Racing), with Espargaró, Randy Krummenacher (Stipa-Molenaar Racing) and Khairuddin Zulfahmi (AirAsia – Sepang International Circuit Team) all experiencing run offs.