OPPORTUNITY: Hunter rider Broc Parkes gets accustomed with Phillip Island again ahead of this weekend’s Australian MotoGP. The 35-year-old was slowest in Friday’s opening two practice sessions after scoring a late call up to race for Tech 3 Yamaha. Qualifying takes place on Saturday followed by the main event on Sunday. Picture: APHunter rider Broc Parkes hopes to keep improvinghis speed in Australian MotoGP qualifying sessions at Phillip Island on Saturdayafter struggling inpractice.
The 35-year-old, who was a late call up to race Sunday’s main event (4pm) with Tech 3 Yamaha, was the slowest of 23 competitors around the circuit in both the morning and afternoon runs.
Parkes completed 38 laps in total on Friday andeventually cut0.902 seconds off his best performance, stopping the clock at one minute, 32.152 seconds (1’32.152).
He was 2.927s off pacesetterAleix Espargaro (1’29.225) with Marc Marquez (+0.005) next best and fellow Australian Jack Miller (+0.241) sixth overall only three weeks after breaking his leg in a training accident.
But in a promising sign ahead of Saturday’s final two practice sessions and qualifying, Parkes top speed on Friday went from 313.2 kmph to 324.7 kmph.
It has been a whirlwind experience this week for the nowEndurance World Championship regular, who last rode a one-off MotoGP two years ago and steered afull rookie season in 2014.
“The call-up for this opportunity came at the last minute as I was in Andorra and I asked for it on Friday [last week],” Parkes said post-practice on Friday.
“Then, I heard from [team founder] Hervé [Poncharal] the next day and so I jumped on the plane and got here [Australia] midweek.In all honesty, it was a bit of a struggle todayas I thought I would get on with the bike quicker.
“It hasnot been easy and I had a small crash in the afternoon, which caused us to lose some time at the end.
“Yet, up until then, we started to advance and I made progress. The best guys in the world are in this class and they have been on their bikes for a long time so to jump on the Yamaha and try to be competitive straight away is definitely not an easy task. However, it’s going well and I am looking forward to tomorrow.”
Parkes replacedJonas Folger, who returned home to his native Germany with illness before last weekend’s Japanese grand prix.It is believed Folger has been diagnosed with mononucleosis, ruling him out of upcoming races in Malaysia and Valencia.