Philip Island is a tough circuit to learn in ideal conditions but with wind playing havoc at the Island today Michael Laverty’s task of finding his way around the fast and flowing Australian circuit was given an added difficulty.
In the opening practice session of the weekend the Irishman took his time getting up to speed but by the afternoon he was much more comfortable and would eventually finish the day 19th fastest and in a competitive group within the CRT field.
Speaking after the session Laverty said:
“It took all of this morning and the break between sessions to learn the track,” admitted Laverty. “At the start of this afternoon I was a lot more comfortable with it. This afternoon with more laps under my belt I felt much more comfortable and took over a second off [my FP1 time] on my first exit and then I was steadily chipping away at it. It was a good session and I liked the track. We haven’t made big changes with the bike yet and it’s been more about me getting dialled into the circuit and understanding how to ride this place.”
“It’s tough to learn the track with the wind that we’ve had today. It buffets you everywhere so it’s hard to figure out your braking markers because it’s different from lap to lap. It was worst at turn two and three and this morning it was so hard to learn turn two because I was coming out of there without enough momentum and I was wheeling and then wind would get underneath the bike so it was so hard to even get to full throttle.
“Coming out of turn two you can see the sea and the wind just gets under you. You want to get to the outside edge of the track but you can’t get there because the wind takes you where it wants you want to go. I’m not sure if maybe you need to expect it and then run wider and then let it take you in from there.
“It’s all about controlling the wheelspin here. It’s not about braking, it’s about controlling momentum off the corners. The wind was the biggest surprise for me here and I didn’t realise how much you had to take that into consideration for your tip in points and braking markers. It’s a bit of a shock to the system when you come over the hill into turn one and the wind picks the front wheel up at 200 mph, that gets the heart rate going!”
Laverty ended the session less than one tenth slower than Petrucci but he was confident that there was over half a second within himself. With the majority of the CRT runners lapping within that time frame if the PBM squad can improve the chatter problem Laverty is confident of having a good race and confirming the pace that he has shown on the ART machine since making the switch at Aragon.
“We need to find a bit more grip under acceleration and we had some problems with chatter. We shouldn’t be getting it because of how smooth the track is so we’ll have to look into it. Once it starts to chatter the ripples just keep bringing you wider as the bike bounces but we’ve got some ideas, electronic and chassis, that we’ll work on tomorrow and hopefully we’ll be in a good position.”