MotoGP riders back Phillip Island schedule change

Aprilia Racing MotoGP rider Aleix Espargaro in action in practice at Phillip Island

Aleix Espargaro supports the Phillip Island schedule change given how far the MotoGP field has travelled to Australia. Image: Ross Gibb Photography

MotoGP riders have backed the weather-induced change to the Phillip Island schedule which will see the feature race held on Saturday afternoon.

Race Direction has made the decision to move the 27-lap Grand Prix race to Saturday afternoon due to forecasts of dangerously high winds on Sunday, when the Sprint will be held if it is in fact safe to proceed.

According to MotoGP Chief Sporting Officer Carlos Ezpeleta, teams were “unanimous” in their support for the swap, and comments from riders are consistent with that claim.

Aprilia Racing’s Aleix Espargaro cited the distance to Australia as reason to make changes in order to ensure that the headline act still goes ahead.

He said before the decision was made official, “My opinion, this is the most far away race in the world [and] we came here; if there is any possibility that on Sunday it’s bad, maybe to change the race and to put a good show, a long race for the people, for the show, for the championship points and everything.

“If on Sunday, conditions are good enough to race in the wet, in the wind, whatever, you do the Sprint, but I think it’s fair and good enough to do the long race tomorrow.”

Marc Marquez had played down concerns about the wind when he fronted media on set-up day.

However, the Repsol Honda rider also supported the move.

“I agree, if it’s for safety, and it looks like on Sunday it will be super-windy and maybe impossible even to ride, so they advanced the [event] programme.

“Maybe then on Sunday, it will be okay, but then we will do the Sprint race, but if they can advance that programme, I agree.”

Championship-leading Ducati Team rider Francesco Bagnaia said, “It’s better for sure because, for me, on Sunday it will be very difficult to open the box, to open the garage [due to] 50km/h wind.

“For sure, it’s better.”

CLICK HERE for the full updated MotoGP schedule for Phillip Island

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