2017 MotoGP Australian GP – Preview

The 16th round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship takes place this weekend from the Phillip Island Grand Prix Circuit in Australia, which is located about 140 kilometres south-south-east of Melbourne, and it is the second of three-straight flyaway weekends (Japan, Australia, and Malaysia), and from what we saw in Japan, we are set for some great racing at this breathtaking circuit.

Marc Márquez (244 points) leads the world championship on his factory Honda, but his championship lead over factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso (233 points) has been cut to just 11 points after the Italian’s sensational victory at the Twin Ring Motegi in very wet conditions, overtaking Márquez on the final lap to grab his fifth victory of the season, which is the most wins Dovizioso has had in a season since he claim the 125cc championship in 2004. It was also Dovizioso’s seventh podium of the season, which is the equal most he has achieved in a season during his premier class career (2010, 2011, and 2017).

And while the lead for Márquez was cut to 11 points, the Spaniard could celebrate his 100th podium in Grand Prix Motorcycle Racing in just his 165th race, and with that podium, it is the seventh time in the last eight years that Márquez has achieved 10 podiums or more in a season across all classes.

Third in the championship is factory Yamaha rider Maverick Viñales (203 points), 41 points behind Márquez after a disappointing ninth-place finish in the Japanese Grand Prix, struggling in very wet conditions on his Yamaha, a bike that has struggled all season long in wet conditions, and after scoring three wins in the opening five races of the season, Viñales has only been able to manage three podiums in the last 10, a run of form that will surely cost him any hope of winning his first MotoGP World Championship in 2017.

Dani Pedrosa (170 points), the teammate of Márquez, is the last rider in mathematical contention for the world championship, but is 74 points (out of a possible 75) behind Márquez in the championship after retiring from the Japanese Grand Prix, and will need a miracle if he was to win his first MotoGP World Championship in 2017.

Valentino Rossi (168 points) is fifth in the championship on his factory Yamaha, but officially out of championship contention after crashing out in Motegi, struggling like his teammate Viñales in the wet conditions.

Johann Zarco (125 points) is ahead of Jorge Lorenzo (116 points), and Danilo Petrucci (111 points) in the battle for sixth in the championship, which will be battle outside of the championship battle that will be sure to captivate great interest among the fans as this season draws closer to the end.

Cal Crutchlow (92 points) is ninth in the championship, and is ahead of Jonas Folger (84 points) who missed the Japanese Grand Prix due to a mystery virus, and looks set to miss the Australian Grand Prix, as well as the Malaysian Grand Prix the week after.

As far as who is going to win at Phillip Island, Honda, Ducati, and Yamaha should all have strong bikes to handle the fast, sweeping corners around this iconic circuit.

It is important to note that Phillip Island is one of just five circuits on the current MotoGP calendar that run in an anti-clockwise direction, and at the three anti-clockwise circuits (Circuit of the Americas, Sachsenring, and Motorland Aragón) MotoGP has been to in 2017, Marc Márquez has won all three, while Andrea Dovizioso has struggled, finishing sixth, eighth, and seventh respectively at those three circuits.

However, Márquez has only won the Australian Grand Prix once since joining the premier class in 2013, but could have potentially won all of those races. Márquez was disqualified in 2013 after failing to pit within the prescribed pit-stop window in the first-ever dry flag-to-flag race, before crashing at Turn 10 in 2014 while leading the race comfortably, before winning a thriller in 2015 when he was out of championship contention, overtaking Jorge Lorenzo on the last lap, and then crashed at Turn Four (Honda Corner) while leading the race again in 2016.

Conditions this weekend are set to be fine, but cool, which should suit the Yamaha better, but I think the Honda and Ducati have been developed much further and better than the Yamaha, and given his record on anti-clockwise circuits, both in 2017 and in general, it is very hard to tip against Márquez moving a step closer to a fourth MotoGP World Championship, and his sixth championship across all classes.

 

MotoGP Practice on Friday at 10:55am, and 3:05pm local time (10:55am, and 3:05pm AEDT). MotoGP FP3 on Saturday at 10:55am local time (10:55am AEDT), FP4 on Saturday at 2:30pm local time (2:30pm AEDT), Q1 and Q2 on Saturday at 3:10pm and 3:35pm local time (3:10pm and 3:35pm AEDT). MotoGP Warm Up on Sunday at 11:40am local time (11:40am AEDT), and MotoGP race on Sunday at 4:00pm local time (4:00pm AEDT).

 

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2017 MotoGP Japan GP – Preview

The 15th round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship takes place this weekend from the Twin Ring Motegi in Japan, which is about 150 kilometres north-north-east of Tokyo, and is the first of three-straight flyaway weekends (Japan, Australia, and Malaysia) that could well determine who becomes the 2017 MotoGP World Champion, and with four-races to go, the battle looks set to go down to the wire.

Marc Márquez (224 points) on his factory Honda, leads the world championship by 16 points over factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso (208 points) after winning the last two races, including last time out in Aragón in Spain three weeks ago. He has now equalled his win tally from last year to become the first rider since Valentino Rossi to achieve five race victories (or more) in a MotoGP season for five-successive years.

And despite a couple of scrappy qualifying sessions by his own high standards, has the bike, the speed, and the momentum in his quest to win his fourth MotoGP World Championship, and his sixth world championship overall.

Dovizioso, meanwhile had a much more difficult time in Aragón, struggling for pace during the race, coming home in seventh place, and leaving his hopes of winning his first MotoGP World Championship in a difficult position, but is having the best season of his MotoGP career, there is no doubt about that!

Maverick Viñales (196 points) is third in the world championship on his factory Yamaha, 28 points behind Márquez despite having not won a race since the French Grand Prix back in May, and the factory Yamaha team have struggled to find that extra speed and confidence, particularly in hotter conditions to challenge Honda and Ducati in the world championship battle, but you feel Viñales is riding well at the moment, with six-successive top six race finishes.

Fourth in the 2017 MotoGP World Championship is Márquez’s teammate Dani Pedrosa (170 points) after a second-place finish in Aragón, and remains in mathematical contention for the title, along with Yamaha teammate of Viñales, Valentino Rossi (168 points), who made a miraculous comeback from a broken leg in Aragón, qualifying on the front row, and then managing to finish fifth in one of the most remarkable performances that we have seen, given the circumstances, in recent years.

Johann Zarco (117 points) is sixth in the world championship, but out of contention to win it in his rookie season in MotoGP, and is ahead of factory Ducati rider Jorge Lorenzo (106 points). Lorenzo scored just his second podium of in 2017 at Aragón, and is showing some promising signs that he might be getting back towards race-winning form in his first season on the factory Ducati, although time is running out to secure a race victory, and avoid having a winless season for the first time since joining the premier class in 2008.

Completing the top 10 in the 2017 MotoGP World Championship are Danilo Petrucci (95 points), Cal Crutchlow (92 points), and Jonas Folger (84 points), riders who are all capable of achieving another podium or two before the season comes to an end.

Looking at who can challenge for a race victory at the Twin Ring Motegi in Japan, it is pretty hard to go against Marc Márquez, who won the race last year in securing his third MotoGP World Championship, but he has got some heavy competition for the victory at the Honda-owned circuit in 2017.

In the Bridgestone era (2009-2015) at the Japanese Grand Prix, Yamaha had won three times (all for Jorge Lorenzo), Honda had also won three times (all for Dani Pedrosa), and Ducati only won once during that time with Casey Stoner back in a difficult 2010 for the Italian manufacturer, the year which started their downward spiral, which they have recovered from.

You also sense that this circuit should suit both the Yamaha and the Ducati, perhaps even more so than the Honda, and both Viñales and Dovizioso desperately need a victory to keep their championship hopes alive, and to not allow Márquez to get a total stranglehold on proceedings.

While I would tip Márquez given his current form to win for the second year in a row at the Twin Ring Motegi, if I wasn’t going to tip him to win the race, I think Jorge Lorenzo will break his duck and claim his first race victory for Ducati, while I think Maverick Viñales will get his first podium since the British Grand Prix.

 

MotoGP Practice on Friday at 9:55am, and 2:05pm local time (11:55am, and 4:05pm AEDT). MotoGP FP3 on Saturday at 9:55am local time (11:55am AEDT), FP4 on Saturday at 1:30pm local time (3:30pm AEDT), Q1 and Q2 on Saturday at 2:10pm and 2:35pm local time (4:10pm and 4:35pm AEDT). MotoGP Warm Up on Sunday at 9:40am local time (11:40am AEDT), and MotoGP race on Sunday at 2:00pm local time (4:00pm AEDT).

 

MotoGP Austria GP – Preview

The 11th round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship takes place this weekend from the Red Bull Ring in Spielberg in Austria, a week after the Czech Republic Grand Prix that amazed in so many ways.

Marc Márquez leads the world championship on 154 points after taking his second-successive victory of the season at the Brno Circuit after him and his team made some very smart calls in regards to their race strategy.

Starting in very intermediate conditions, bordering on dry conditions, Márquez and his Repsol Honda Team decided to start on the soft wet rear tyre, a tyre which in the eyes of many would degrade quicker than the medium wet rear tyre in those conditions. However, when Márquez realised that this wasn’t working, as he was falling back down the field, he pitted at the end of Lap Two to change bikes for one with dry tyres (medium front, medium rear), and it worked!

Most of the field were slow to realise that the track conditions had changed, and were made to look like fools by the fast-thinking Márquez, and his team, cruising in the end to a 12.438 second victory over his teammate Dani Pedrosa, who now sits fifth in the championship on 123 points, 31 points behind Márquez.

Second in the championship is the man who finished third in the Czech Republic, Maverick Viñales. The factory Yamaha rider was lucky not to lose more points against his main championship rival after pitting two laps later than Márquez. Viñales is now on 140 points, 14 points behind his fellow Spaniard.

Andrea Dovizioso is third in the world championship for Ducati on 133 points, 21 points behind the championship leader after finishing in sixth in the Czech Republic.

Dovizioso pitted three laps later than Márquez, and one lap later than teammate Jorge Lorenzo, who got caught out by his team not being ready for him to pit, meaning that he finished 15th in the race, and leaves Lorenzo down in 10th position in the championship on 66 points in what has been his worst season to date.

Valentino Rossi is fourth in world championship on his factory Yamaha on 132 points, 22 points behind Márquez after finishing fourth at the Brno Circuit, pitting three laps later than the race winner and championship leader.

Johann Zarco is sixth in the championship on his Yamaha on 88 points, 11 points ahead of his teammate Jonas Folger (77 points), who is ahead of both Danilo Petrucci and Cal Crutchlow, who are both on 75 points each.

Looking ahead to the Austrian Grand Prix at the Red Bull Ring, it looks to be a circuit on paper that suits the Ducati down to a tee. They were dominant last year at the Red Bull Ring, picking up a one-two finish with Andrea Iannone finishing ahead of Andrea Dovizioso at one of the most power sensitive circuits on the calendar, rewarding the straight-line speed and engine power of the Ducati.

The Red Bull Ring is also a circuit that also rewards a well-handling bike, with the Yamaha’s of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi finishing under four seconds behind the race winner, despite the supposed lack of power and straight-line speed from the Yamaha and their engine.

Also, despite their bad performance last year at the Red Bull Ring, you cannot rule out the two factory Honda’s having a big say in who is going to win the Austrian Grand Prix.

The maximum temperatures for the weekend in Spielberg are set to be ranging between 19 and 22 degrees Celsius, and that will certainly suit the factory Yamaha’s of Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi over the factory Honda’s of Marc Márquez and Dani Pedrosa if previous history is anything to go by in 2017.

However, as far as the track characteristics are concerned, all signs point to a Ducati win, and I believe Jorge Lorenzo will get his first victory for the Italian manufacturer in a one-two finish ahead of Andrea Dovizioso.

 

MotoGP Practice on Friday at 9:55am, and 2:05pm local time (5:55pm, and 10:05pm AEST). MotoGP FP3 on Saturday at 9:55am local time (5:55pm AEST), FP4 on Saturday at 1:30pm local time (9:30pm AEST), Q1 and Q2 on Saturday at 2:10pm and 2:35pm local time (10:10pm and 10:35pm AEST). MotoGP Warm Up on Sunday at 9:40am local time (5:40pm AEST), and MotoGP race on Sunday at 2:00pm local time (10:00pm AEST).

MotoGP Czech Republic GP – Preview

The 10th round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship takes place this weekend from the Brno Circuit in the Czech Republic, and after a mid-season break that seems to have gone on forever, it is time to get back to racing to start the second half of the season to continue an amazing championship battle.

And what a battle we have! The top five riders in the world championship are separated by 26 points heading into the final nine races of 2017, and have all won at least one race during the opening nine rounds of the season.

Marc Márquez leads the world championship on 129 points on his factory Honda, which is the lowest points score by a rider leading the world championship after the opening nine rounds since the current points-scoring system was introduced back in 1993, five points ahead of factory Yamaha rider Maverick Viñales, who is on 124 points.

However, Viñales has won more races so far in 2017 than his fellow Spaniard with three victories (Qatar, Argentina, and France), compared to Márquez, who has achieved two victories (Americas, and Germany).

Behind the two pre-season favourites after the halfway mark of the season is factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso on 123 points, six points behind Márquez in the world championship after winning two races (Italy, and Catalunya), and becoming the first Ducati rider since Casey Stoner back in 2010 to win consecutive races for the manufacturer.

Valentino Rossi is fourth in the championship on his factory Yamaha on 119 points, 10 points behind Márquez after achieving one victory during the opening half of the season, at the eighth round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship at Assen.

Behind Rossi is Dani Pedrosa, who is fifth in the world championship on 103 points, 26 points behind his factory Honda teammate Márquez after winning the Spanish Grand Prix earlier this year at Jerez, and is still well and truly in championship contention.

However, behind the battle for the championship is a great scrap for sixth in the championship standings between Johann Zarco (84 points), Jonas Folger (71 points), Danilo Petrucci (66 points), Jorge Lorenzo (65 points), and Cal Crutchlow (64 points).

All five of these riders have been on the podium at least once this season, and in the case of Petrucci, twice. As well as this, the three riders of those five (Zarco, Folger, and Petrucci) who haven’t won a race in the premier class in their careers to date have shown that they can challenge the very best on their day, and could possibly claim their first MotoGP race victories during the second-half of the season.

The two out of those five (Lorenzo and Crutchlow) who have won races in the premier class, and in the case of Lorenzo, world championships, have struggled to put together a string of good results so far in 2017, and need to find some consistency in the second-half to have any hope of achieving a top five finish in the championship.

So, MotoGP heads to the Czech Republic with at least ten riders who have shown that they are capable of winning a race in 2017, and with the conditions set to be fine, but hotter than normal, it leaves this race wide open.

However, especially given Honda have won five of the last six races at the Brno Circuit, if the track conditions are slippery, it will suit the Japanese manufacturer extremely well.

However, if the track has a lot of grip in its asphalt, it will bring it more in the favour of Yamaha, and in particular Ducati.

So, who am I tipping to win the Czech Republic Grand Prix?

Well, no rider has won at the Brno Circuit in consecutive years in MotoGP since Valentino Rossi won the races in 2008 and 2009, and suspect this record will still be standing at the end of the weekend.

So, I am going to tip Marc Márquez to win the tenth round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship in a fantastic battle with Dani Pedrosa.

 

MotoGP Practice on Friday at 9:55am, and 2:05pm local time (5:55pm, and 10:05pm AEST). MotoGP FP3 on Saturday at 9:55am local time (5:55pm AEST), FP4 on Saturday at 1:30pm local time (9:30pm AEST), Q1 and Q2 on Saturday at 2:10pm and 2:35pm local time (10:10pm and 10:35pm AEST). MotoGP Warm Up on Sunday at 9:40am local time (5:40pm AEST), and MotoGP race on Sunday at 2:00pm local time (10:00pm AEST).

 

 

2017 MotoGP German GP – Preview

This weekend, the ninth round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship will take place at the Sachsenring in the town of Hohenstein-Ernstthal near the German city of Chemnitz, and with the mid-season break fast approaching, a number of riders will be looking to achieve good results to consolidate or improve their position in the world championship.

The MotoGP field heads into the ninth round of 2017 with a new championship leader with Andrea Dovizioso leading on 115 points, which is the lowest for a world championship leader in the premier class after eight rounds since the current points-scoring system was introduced back in 1993.

Dovizioso leads by four points over Maverick Viñales (111 points), with Valentino Rossi (108 points), and Marc Márquez (104 points) all within 11 points of the championship leader, and is unsurprisingly the smallest margin covering the top four riders in the premier class after eight rounds since the current points-scoring system was introduced back in 1993.

Dovizioso will be looking to secure his third victory of the season this weekend, but has never won at the Sachsenring across any of the classes. His best performance at the German Grand Prix has been two third-place finishes back in 2012 and 2016 respectively.

Viñales too has never won the Sachsenring in his career to date, with his best performance at the German Grand Prix being two third-place finishes 2011 and 2013 in the beginner’s class (125cc/Moto3). However, Viñales will be desperate to grab his fourth victory of the season after crashing out of the Dutch TT under a week ago.

Rossi, unlike Dovizioso and Viñales, has had plenty of success at the Sachsenring, winning five times across all classes, although his last race victory at the German Grand Prix came back in 2009. However, if Rossi won for the seventh time at the Sachsenring, he would become the second-oldest rider to win back-to-back races in the premier class after winning the Dutch TT last week.

Márquez has also had plenty of success at the German Grand Prix, the most successful rider in fact, taking pole position and winning the race in the last seven years across all classes at the Sachsenring. However, he hasn’t got a pole position in the last five races, which is his longest streak without a pole position since joining the premier class back in 2013.

This weekend would seem like the perfect time and place to end that record, but other than Dovizioso, Viñales and Rossi, Márquez will be facing stiff competition from his teammate Dani Pedrosa, who too has a fantastic record at the German Grand Prix, winning it six times across all classes.

However, Pedrosa, who is currently fifth in the championship on 87 points, 28 points behind championship leader Dovizioso will be desperate to achieve his seventh victory at the Sachsenring as he looks to keep in touch with his championship rivals at a track where the Repsol Honda Team have won for the past seven years.

Other riders to look out for this weekend to challenge for the podium and possibly a race win include Johann Zarco (77 points), Danilo Petrucci (62 points), Jorge Lorenzo (60 points), and Cal Crutchlow (58 points).

Zarco won the Moto2 race last year at the Sachsenring, but Petrucci, who has never won a race, Crutchlow, and more surprisingly Lorenzo have never won at the Sachsenring across any class.

The German Grand Prix is a particularly big weekend for Lorenzo if he wants to get back into the world championship battle, trailing his teammate Andrea Dovizioso by 55 points heading into the last 10 races of the season.

He has had a real struggle to adapt to his factory Ducati, and has been rather inconsistent, finishing in the top six on only three occasions in 2017, with his only podium of the season so far coming at the Spanish Grand Prix in Jerez.

If Lorenzo can improve his form on the factory Ducati, he can still be a major player in the 2017 MotoGP World Championship, but you feel it has to start this weekend by claiming his first victory at the Sachsenring, a track where he has claimed six podiums across all classes.

However, I am tipping a resurgent run by Marc Márquez at arguably his favourite circuit on the calendar, and I believe he will dominate at the Sachsenring once again to win for the eighth time.

 

MotoGP Practice on Friday at 9:50am, and 2:00pm local time (5:50pm, and 10:00pm AEST). MotoGP FP3 on Saturday at 9:55am local time (5:55pm AEST), FP4 on Saturday at 1:30pm local time (9:30pm AEST), Q1 and Q2 on Saturday at 2:10pm and 2:35pm local time (10:10pm and 10:35pm AEST). MotoGP Warm Up on Sunday at 9:40am local time (5:40pm AEST), and MotoGP race on Sunday at 2:00pm local time (10:00pm AEST).

2017 MotoGP Dutch TT – Preview

This weekend, the 2017 Dutch TT, the eighth round of the 2017 MotoGP World Championship will take place this weekend from the TT Circuit Assen in Assen in the Netherlands, and the championship battle is starting to heat up!

Maverick Viñales leads the world championship on his factory Movistar Yamaha on 111 points, which is incidentally the lowest points-score after the first seven rounds for a rider leading a premier class world championship since the current points-scoring system was introduced back in 1993, despite achieving three race victories in the opening seven rounds.

Viñales is ahead of Andrea Dovizioso, who claimed his first dry race victory in MotoGP at the Italian Grand Prix at Mugello, and then backed it up a week later by claiming his second dry-weather win at the Catalan Grand Prix in Barcelona in Spain to take his career race wins total in the premier class to four.

Dovizioso’s previous race victories in MotoGP came in wet conditions at Donington Park in the United Kingdom in 2009, and at the Sepang International Circuit in Malaysia last year.

This leaves the Italian just seven points behind the Spaniard on 104 points on his factory Ducati, raising the question as to whether Dovizioso can win his first MotoGP World Championship in 2017?

Marc Márquez is third in the world championship on his factory Repsol Honda on 88 points, 23 points behind the championship leader, after taking just a single victory so far in 2017, winning the Grand Prix of the Americas at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, as well as two pole positions.

However, Márquez hasn’t got a pole position in the last four races, which is his longest streak without a pole position since joining the premier class back in 2013.

However, the next two races of the championship at Assen, where he has finished inside the top two in his last seven races there, and at the Sachsenring, where he has won his last seven races there, should be a chance for Márquez to close the championship deficit to Viñales.

Márquez’s teammate, Dani Pedrosa, sits fourth in the world championship on 84 points, 27 points behind Viñales after taking one race victory in the first seven rounds of the season at Jerez at the Spanish Grand Prix, the fourth race of the season, and finishing inside the top five in all of the races that he has finished, although crashing out in two of the seven races so far in 2017.

However, it was at this point of the season last year where Pedrosa started to struggle, only finishing inside the top five once in the last 11 races of 2016, including missing three of those races after breaking his collarbone (clavicle) in a massive practice crash at the Japanese Grand Prix at Motegi, so Pedrosa will be looking to maintain his current speed and form heading towards the second half of the season to maintain a strong championship challenge.

Valentino Rossi is fifth in the world championship on 83 points, 28 points behind his teammate Maverick Viñales in the championship battle after taking just three podiums in the opening seven rounds.

Other than his two years at Ducati in 2011 and 2012, and 2010, where he broke his leg at Mugello in Italy during practice for the Italian Grand Prix, this is the least amount of points that he has had at this point of a season in the MotoGP era, and the premier class since his rookie season in 2000, where he had scored 57 points in the opening seven rounds, and will be looking to grab his first victory of 2017 in Assen this weekend.

Johann Zarco is sixth in the world championship after the first seven rounds of his rookie season in the premier class on 75 points, 36 points behind the championship leader, claiming a podium finish at his home race at Le Mans in France, and showing the world that he could be a future replacement for Rossi at the factory Yamaha team.

Jorge Lorenzo is seventh in his first season with the factory Ducati Team after the first seven rounds of 2017 on 59 points, 52 points behind his replacement at Movistar Yamaha Viñales after claiming a third-place finish at the Spanish Grand Prix at Jerez.

With Lorenzo’s teammate Andrea Dovizioso only seven points behind championship leader in the world championship, the question is whether Lorenzo can overturn a 52 point deficit in the last 11 rounds of the season?

If Lorenzo is to comeback and claim his fourth MotoGP World Championship, it must start with a win this weekend at Assen.

And what about Jack Miller?

The winner of the Dutch TT last year sits 13th in the world championship on 30 points, well and truly out of championship contention, but will be looking to match his performance from last year to claim his second race win in the premier class this weekend.

The weather for Assen this weekend looks good for Friday and Sunday, but wet for Saturday, so it could be crucial to be inside the top 10 after practice on Friday. Maximum ambient temperatures are set to be around 20 to 23 degrees Celsius.

Overall, I think there could be eight to 10 riders who can win this weekend, and I am not willing to pick a winner, but I think it is going to be a memorable race.

 

MotoGP Practice on Friday at 9:55am, and 2:05pm local time (5:55pm, and 10:05pm AEST). MotoGP FP3 on Saturday at 9:55am local time (5:55pm AEST), FP4 on Saturday at 1:30pm local time (9:30pm AEST), Q1 and Q2 on Saturday at 2:10pm and 2:35pm local time (10:10pm and 10:35pm AEST). MotoGP Warm Up on Sunday at 9:10am local time (5:10pm AEST), and MotoGP race on Sunday at 1:00pm local time (9:00pm AEST).