Pol Espargaro began a pivotal weekend for his Moto2 championship chances in perfect fashion by topping the Friday Practice times in Malaysia. In all probability, the Pons rider needs a win to keep his hopes alive and a 2:08.015s lap this morning saw him lead the opening day, although he was pushed hard by Britain’s Bradley Smith while Marc Marquez finished a strong third.

Marquez had actually led the session for the most part only to be overtaken in the final two minutes by Espargaro. The younger of the two Spaniards pulled out a three tenth advantage while Smith squeezed in between the pair, taking his Tech 3 Mistral 610 round in 2:08.231.

Fresh for a superb podium finish at Motegi, Esteve Rabat took fourth on the second Pons Tuenti Kalex, just six hundredths behind Marquez, with Dominique Aegerter and Andrea Iannone completing the top six. Reigning 125cc champion Nicolas Terol was seventh ahead of Thomas Luthi with Takaaki Nakagami and Simone Corsi rounding out the leading ten. Scott Redding, confirmed as a Moto2 rider with Marc VDS for 2013, was twelfth with Gino Rea, whose status is much less secure, was 23rd.

Heavy rain caused a virtual washout of the afternoon session but it did provide a moment to remember for Malaysian wildcard Hafizh Syahrin who clocked the fastest time in front of his home crowd. The session didn’t pan out quite so well for the likes of Bradley Smith and Alex De Angelis who both suffered heavy crashes. Both avoided serious injury but Smith will take part in the rest of the weekend with two broken toes.

 

 Moto2 Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix: Combined Friday Practice Times
Pos Rider Constructor Team Time/Gap
1  Pol Espargaro Kalex Tuenti Movil HP 40 2:08.015
2  Bradley Smith Tech 3 Tech 3 Racing +0.216
3  Marc Marquez Suter Team CatalunyaCaixa Repsol +0.333
4  Esteve Rabat Kalex Tuenti Movil HP 40 +0.392
5  Dominique Aegerter Suter Technomag-CIP +0.408
6  Andrea Iannone Speed Up Speed Master +0.443
7  Nicolas Terol Suter Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2 +0.452
8  Thomas Luthi Suter Interwetten-Paddock +0.488
9  Takaaki Nakagami Kalex Italtrans Racing Team +0.508
10  Simone Corsi FTR Came IodaRacing Project +0.519
11  Toni Elias Kalex Italtrans Racing Team +0.525
12  Scott Redding Kalex Marc VDS Racing Team +0.620
13  Julian Simon Suter Blusens Avintia +0.635
14  Alex De Angelis FTR NGM Mobile Forward Racing +0.871
15  Anthony West Speed Up QMMF Racing Team +0.965
16  Mike Di Meglio Kalex Kiefer Racing +1.109
17  Mika Kallio Kalex Marc VDS Racing Team +1.141
18  Johann Zarco Motobi JIR Moto2 +1.146
19  Jordi Torres Suter Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2 +1.405
20  Xavier Simeon Tech 3 Tech 3 Racing +1.481
21  Ricard Cardus AJR Arguiñano Racing Team +1.575
22  Axel Pons Kalex Tuenti Movil HP 40 +1.613

23

 Gino Rea Suter Federal Oil Gresini Moto2 +1.712
24  Hafizh Syahrin (W) FTR Petronas Raceline Malaysia +1.745
25  Marcel Schrotter Bimota Desguaces La Torre SAG +1.830
26  Tomoyoshi Koyama Suter Technomag-CIP +2.137
27  Ratthapark Wilairot Suter Thai Honda PTT Gresini Moto2 +2.334
28  Yuki Takahashi FTR NGM Mobile Forward Racing +2.365
29  A. Andreozzi Speed Up S/Master Speed Up +3.797
30  Marco Colandrea FTR SAG Team +4.004
31  Jesko Raffin Suter GP Team Switzerland +5.409
32  Elena Rosell Speed Up QMMF Racing Team +6.058
33  Eric Granado Motobi JIR Moto2 +6.592