By Stephen English

The new track surface at Philip Island received rave reviews from MotoGP riders following the opening day of practice for the Australian Grand Prix.

The old surface was bumpy throughout but last winter's resurfacing effort has been deemed a huge success, with Bradley Smith saying that the new asphalt should be held as an example to all future efforts.

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"This is by far the best surface we've ever ridden on," said the Englishman. "What they've laid down works great, how they laid it down is great because there's no bumps and I think that other tracks should take note.

"This surface has worked for Bridgestone [in MotoGP], Pirelli in World Superbikes and for Dunlop in Moto2 and Moto3. They've done a great job and I hope that we can filter that into other circuits that need resurfacing in the future.

"They've managed to smooth the track and improve the grip here."

Marc Marquez was equally pleased with the track surface, which has seen lap times tumble in all three classes. The championship leader suffered a high side during the afternoon practice session but he was still very impressed by the new surface:

"I like the new surface a lot," said Marquez. "I think that everybody likes it more. It's so nice to ride on this surface because with no bumps you can use your rear tyre more and more angle. The new surface is a big improvement in lap time."

Repsol Honda team-mate Dani Pedrosa was also happy.

"The new asphalt is much better now," said the Spaniard. "There's a lot less bumps and more grip so it gives a lot more confidence and the tyres were a better today. The biggest improvement is in grip because the tyres are sticking to the ground more and it's [gives] a lot of confidence to the riders. Turn one and the last corner are the biggest improvements."

There are still some bumps remaining but all riders agreed that the track had made a significant step forward. Both the first and final corners, two very high speed turns where riders need to have enormous confidence in the front of their bike, were singled out as being the most improved.

"The track is fantastic. With the new asphalt is great. Every lap is a great pleasure," said Valentino Rossi, who estimated the lap time gain as at least one second. "Better grip and a lot less bumps. With weather like this it is fantastic to ride at Phillip Island."

Whilst also praising the work done, Cal Crutchlow cautioned that the grip levels can be a little unpredictable:

"They've done a good job," said Crutchlow. "Going into turn two there seems to be a lot of bumps and the surface seems unpredictable. It's very good and has very good grip but as we saw with Marc it lets you slide but it can certainly grip for no reason. The last corner and the first corner is a lot better [compared to last year] and they've definitely done a good job."

While the Moto2 and Moto3 riders immediately broke their lap records, MotoGP pace setter Jorge Lorenzo was three tenths off lap record pace. But given Casey Stoner's dominance at the track in recent years it probably says more about the Australian's speed rather than the new surface and during tomorrow's running the lap record should fall.