Crutchlow fastest as rain ruins practice


Phillip Island (Australia) (AFP)

Heavy rain ruined Friday's opening practice sessions for this weekend's Australian MotoGP with Cal Crutchlow squeezing in the fastest lap time at Phillip Island.

The morning session was completed but after a 40-minute delay, afternoon practice was red-flagged after just 14 minutes as incessant rain made conditions too dangerous to continue.

British Honda rider Crutchlow, seventh behind newly crowned world champion Marc Marquez on the championship standings, posted a best lap of one minute 40.957 seconds in the morning.

He put in only eight laps to record his best time as riders were severely hampered by the slippery conditions around the island circuit.

Italian Danilo Petrucci on a Ducati was second fastest ahead of Australian hope Jack Miller, riding a Honda.

Valentino Rossi, vying with Movistar Yamaha team-mate Jorge Lorenzo to be this season's championship runner-up, was initially second, 0.041secs behind Crutchlow.

But the nine-time world champion ran into strife for exceeding the 10-lap limit on one of the Michelin wet tyres, and race stewards deleted his lap times set on that rubber compound.

That relegated the Italian legend to the 20th-fastest time, just one slot behind team-mate Lorenzo.

Marquez, who at 23 became the youngest rider to win three premier-class world championship titles with victory last week in Japan, was fourth fastest with a best lap of 1:41.511.

Lorenzo, who was pipped by Marquez by just 0.249 seconds in last year's Phillip Island race, had a troubled opening practice and recorded only the 19th best time of 1:45.651 in a disastrous day for the Movistar Yamaha team.

Marquez holds an unassailable 77-point lead in the standings with three races to go, starting this weekend at Phillip Island.

The Moto3 riders got in the two scheduled practice sessions but the Moto2 teams lost the afternoon session entirely to rain.

Riders will have further practice sessions on Saturday ahead of qualifying for Sunday's third-last MotoGP of the season.

The forecast is for continuing showers but at this stage Sunday's race has only a medium chance of showers.