Newly-crowned 2008 MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi finished second and fifth on his return to action, during two very different free practice sessions at Phillip island on Friday.
Bright sunshine this morning saw the Fiat Yamaha rider running second behind local hero Casey Stoner, but this afternoon was a different story as rain and wind battered the coastal circuit. Rossi was sixth fastest and, with unsettled weather expected for the rest of the weekend, this afternoon's wet set-up time could prove useful
"Today we are back to work after the championship victory but I can say that my motivation is still very high and I really want to have a good result here," insisted Rossi, who has won five times in the premier class at Phillip Island.
"I am quite happy with this morning's session, second is not so bad and I managed to do some good laps and find a strong rhythm quite quickly. It wasn't perfect however and we need to work a little bit on the tyres with Bridgestone. This track is very hard on tyres, especially the left side where there is a lot of stress and at the moment we have a bit too much rear spin.
"In the wet we were a bit slow and we lack some feel on the entry to the corner, so if it is wet again then we will need to work on this. Now we will have to wait and see what the weather does tomorrow in order to see what we have to focus on," he declared.
Rossi's Michelin-shod team-mate Jorge Lorenzo, who has won the Australian 250GP race for the last two years, was eighth in the dry this morning and fifth in the wet this afternoon.
"Today has been a bit strange because the conditions between the morning and the afternoon were so different!" admitted the Spanish rookie. "This is one of my favourite tracks and I've been looking forward to riding the M1 here for a long time and finding out if I could be fast again here like I was in 125 and 250.
"This morning in the dry we tried many different tyres with Michelin and then this afternoon in the wet again we had the chance to try some different things. It seems that Michelin is especially strong here in the wet and if it's like this all weekend then we have the possibility to be quite strong.
"We need a bit more time to be fast in the dry here but, from looking at the times and the data, I think we can be competitive if the weather is good as well."