With considerably more than 200bhp at their command from their Yamaha YZR-M1s, Valentino Rossi, Carlos Checa, Marco Melandri and Norick Abe will have the tools to compete with their peers at the fast Phillip Island circuit.

Nonetheless the Aussie track demands far more than just a fast bike to make for quick and consistent lap times.

The sweeping and flowing circuit is possibly one of the ultimate tests of machine control and throttle accuracy, not to mention the sheer bravery and forcefulness required of the rider.

Frequent heavy braking is less of a consideration at Phillip Island than most other tracks, and thus a certain level of stability under braking can be sacrificed to allow for greater cornering finesse and agility.

The 4.448km track has undergone considerable trackside improvements over the winter, aimed at enhancing rider safety. Nonetheless a fast lap is still rated as one of the most adrenaline-fuelled experiences in any rider's season.

The compromise between setting the suspension at a hard enough level to handle the high cornering forces, while remaining supple over the few high speed ripples, is the goal at 'The Island'. This also helps to prevent the rear end from trying to spin out on the slower corners, losing crucial acceleration.

Overly stiff suspension will not allow the rear end to squat to the required degree under power, making the rear tyre work excessively hard around what is predominantly a left-handed track, promoting premature tyre wear. Rider confidence through suspension consistency is a key at such a fast track, allowing the rider to push the pace for the entire race distance.

The seemingly never-ending final corner is crucial to a good lap time and a high speed exit will also determine how soon the rider can reach top speed down the long main straight, another important factor, especially in the last lap of a close race.

Aerodynamics is important, with the current angular M1 less prone to the effects of the high cross winds than earlier versions.

Phillip Island's exposed nature means that weather is a constant talking point in the Australian spring climate, adding to the potential complications during set-up, qualifying and race.


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