PHILLIP ISLAND, Australia: Qualifying for the Australian MotoGP was canceled Saturday as strong winds caused havoc at the coastal circuit, with officials deciding it was too dangerous after Tech3 Racing’s Miguel Oliveira was “blown off” the track.
Phillip Island, known for its fast corners and long straights, is a favorite among riders, but it is also renowned for notoriously unpredictable weather.
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 in 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. A decision on whether he can continue will be made Sunday morning.
The rest of the session and subsequent qualifying was called off and later rescheduled for Sunday.
The new timetable will see Q1 and Q2, weather permitting, held in the morning 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.