Australia’s most famous Grand Prix circuit has had a somewhat rich and turbulent history. However, the track as it is known today is at the forefront of motor racing – featuring on the MotoGP™ calendar as one of the top 3 circuits in the world for riders and fans alike. At 4.4km (2.76 miles) in length, Phillip Island is a challenging mix of mid and high-speed turns, with just a couple of slower ones thrown in to keep racers on their toes.
As a circuit with some of the highest average speeds in the Championship, it can push competitors to the extremes of mental and physical endurance. Horsepower down the main straight is the first test, followed quickly by machine stability as gusty ocean winds hit just before the entry of turn 1. Then there’s the track favouring the tyres left-hand side, with 7 lefts, compared to only 5 righthand bends. All thrown together and it is understandable why bike set-up is critical.
Phillip Islands’ track layout is not for the fainthearted, and it is important not to lose focus around the long sweeping corners. From the Start/Finish straight, the fastest line down through turn 1 is not to go too wide, before braking late, gearing from sixth back to third, and letting the natural camber of the curve take the bike through to turn 2.
Turn 2 is a two-stage, off-camber corner, taken in second gear, before the short back straight which includes the infamous Stoner turn, best known for the sliding technique utilised by riders to get through it just that little bit fastest.
The first of only two slow corners at the circuit, turn 4 is all about maintaining balance while braking. This tight right-hander can catch riders out as the preceding left-turns have favoured only one side of the tyres. Exiting into turn 5, which is just a slight kink compared to turn 6, an uphill left-hand turn where riders can hug tightly to the inside curb and in second gear accelerate quickly on exit.
Maintaining traction out of turn 6 is vital, as the next stage is fast and turn 8 can be taken in fourth gear to gain a few precious seconds on the clock. The speed through this section will hold the pace and momentum required to get through turn 9.
Lukey Heights is a double apex left-handed uphill curve, before bikes make a precipitous drop over the hill and following another U-turn through corner 10 – the second slowest corner with gearing all the way back to first. The track can get slippery here, and traction is again vital as riders size up their nearest opponent and prepare to power through turn 12 in third gear. This final corner is very long and very fast; taking spectators to the edge of their seats to witness the bikes storm back onto the main straight.