Phillip Island - Qualifying
for the Australian MotoGP was cancelled on Saturday as fierce winds caused
havoc at the beachside circuit, with riders deciding it was too
dangerous after Tech3 Racing's Miguel Oliveira was "blown off" the
Phillip Island, known for its fast corners and long straights, is a
favourite among the sport's stars, but is also renowned for notoriously
After wet and then dry sessions on Friday, the riders had to contend
Saturday with not only more rain but blustery and cold conditions,
making it hard to push the pace.
The winds whipping the circuit were such that 10 of the 22-strong
field didn't even set a lap-time in Saturday's third practice session.
Fourth practice was then red-flagged when pit board numbers blew onto
the track, just minutes after Oliveira lost control and came off his
bike in a big crash on the approach to turn one.
MotoGP officials said he was "blown off the track", with the Portuguese rider stretchered away.
"From the morning to the afternoon the wind completely changed
direction and was going sideways on the straight," Oliveira told the
"I rolled off to let Johann (Zarco) pass and when I braked, I braked
completely sideways and the wind just pushed me out of the track."
A medical check showed no fractures but he said his hands were
painful and a decision on whether he can race would be made on Sunday.
A safety commission meeting was convened and the 21 remaining riders
voted to abandon the rest of the session and subsequent qualifying,
which was rescheduled for Sunday.
"It was very dangerous. I mean they are very high-speed corners here
and the wind affected it a lot," said world champion Marc Marquez, who
admitted he was pushed to his limits.
"When you ride at 330km/h on the straight it (the bike) was shaking a
lot. Tomorrow is another day and for the safely of the riders were
decided to go back (to the paddock)."
The new timetable will see Q1 and Q2 held in the morning - weather permitting - with the race itself pushed back an hour.
If qualifying cannot be held, the grid order will be based on the current combined practice results.
That would put Yamaha's Maverick Vinales, who won in Australia last
year and topped all three completed sessions, on pole ahead of Ducati's
Andrea Dovizioso and Honda's Cal Crutchlow.
Marquez is currently sixth, a place ahead of veteran Italian
Valentino Rossi, who will be riding in his 400th Grand Prix on Sunday.