Valentino Rossi has renewed calls for the Australian MotoGP race to be moved to earlier in the season, the Italian concerned that cold and wet conditions for the traditional October date make it too dangerous.
Rossi loves the spectacular Phillip Island track and has only ever finished off the podium once in his career.
But Rossi has been a vocal opponent of the October date for several years, with the Phillip Island race weekend frequently dominated by cold and unpredictable weather.
Today was no exception, with practice delayed by two hours after the circuit was battered by strong winds and heavy rain.
Air and track temperature barely hit ten degrees and the nine-times world champion said that low temperature made it borderline whether the MotoGP race could go ahead if the same chilly conditions are repeated on Sunday.
Rossi, who clinched a famous win from 11th last weekend at the Sepang circuit in Malaysia, said: “It is very difficult because the conditions mean we are very close to the limit. The rain is okay but the main problem is the temperature.
"If it is this temperature though, maybe it is better that we have rain because with dry tyres that we have, with ten degrees I don’t know how we can manage this. It will be very dangerous for the race.
"If it is dry we need a minimum of 16 or 18 degrees for the tyres. With ten in the dry, the rubber is so strong and I don’t know he will put temperature in the tyre.”
An early slot in the MotoGP calendar has always proven difficult for Phillip Island. The World Superbike race has a traditional February slot meaning conditions are near perfect at the end of the Australian summer.
And the Australian Grand Prix Corporation also promotes the Formula One race at Albert Park, which is always staged in March.
The Fiat Yamaha rider said he was going to raise the issue of the Phillip Island date in tonight’s Safety Commission meeting.
He added: “It is three or four years that we want Phillip Island at the beginning of the season. But they say the problem is Formula One. From our side we have pushed hard every year. But we need a very bad situation like today to maybe push even harder.”
Home favourite Casey Stoner, who was second fastest today behind new world champion Jorge Lorenzo, said the problem was the weather at Phillip Island was always difficult to predict.
The factory Ducati rider told MCN: “We’ve all discussed that in the Safety Commission of putting this race earlier on in the season. The weather’s normally pretty good when World Superbikes are here. It can still throw down some showers.
"Last week in Melbourne it was 30-odd degrees and we come here and it’s like this. We could come here one year and it would be absolutely roasting. It seems quite consistent that we get some bad weather.
"It would be nice if we can put it in a time of year when we’d get some more consistent weather.”
Lorenzo said he too was in favour of the Phillip Island race being moved to an earlier date to catch the more favourable conditions at the back end of the Australian summer.
The Spaniard, who was quickest in today’s practice, told MCN: “Yes, without any doubt they need to look at this. Nobody likes the cold, so please change the date of the race.”