Espargaro Upstages Title Contenders in Australia


Aleix Espargaro - Photo Credit: MotoGP.com

Aleix Espargaro sprung a surprise in free practice ahead of the Australian Grand Prix by topping the timesheets on Friday at Phillip Island. The Aprilia rider outpaced championship rivals Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso in this afternoon’s second session, leaving him well placed to reach Q2 with Saturday’s running likely to be rain-affected.

Marquez had shown impressive consistency during the morning session, lapping in the 1:29s bracket with apparent ease, but a sensational early effort in FP2 saw him knocked off the top by Espargaro. The Aprilia man used a timely slipstream from the Ducati of Dovizioso to clock a 1:29.225, finding most of his time in the run to the finish line, and edging out Marquez by five thousandths of a second.

Despite having a modest record around Phillip Island, Dovizioso was competitive in both sessions on his way to third spot while 2016 winner Cal Crutchlow rose to fourth in the dying seconds, all-but securing his place in Q2. Maverick Vinales also looks likely to compete in the pole position shootout but the Movistar Yamaha rider endured a tough afternoon, crashing at the high-speed turn eight before returning on his number two bike to finish fifth.

Home favourite Jack Miller produced one of the performances of the day, finishing sixth fastest just three weeks after suffering a broken leg on an enduro bike. The Marc VDS rider was second to Marquez in FP1 and although he dropped four places in the second session, Miller remains just two tenths off the outright pace. Andrea Iannone’s recent upturn in fortunes continued with seventh place, just ahead of Johann Zarco and Dani Pedrosa with KTM’s Pol Espargaro completing the top ten.

As a result, the two big names outside the top ten are Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi and if Saturday’s forecast proves correct, the pair may be forced to go through Q1 for the second Australian GP running.

 

2017 Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix – Friday Practice

PosRiderConstructorTeamBest Time 
141. Aleix EspargaroApriliaAprilia Racing Team Gresini1:29.225Q2
293. Marc MarquezHondaRepsol Honda Team1:29.230Q2
34. Andrea DoviziosoDucatiDucati Team1:29.322Q2
435. Cal CrutchlowHondaLCR Honda1:29.329Q2
525. Maverick VinalesYamahaMovistar Yamaha MotoGP1:29.423Q2
643. Jack MillerHondaEG 0,0 Marc VDS1:29.466Q2
729. Andrea IannoneSuzukiTeam Suzuki ECSTAR1:29.604Q2
85. Johann ZarcoYamahaMonster Yamaha Tech 31:29.667Q2
926. Dani PedrosaHondaRepsol Honda Team1:29.702Q2
1044. Pol EspargaroKTMRed Bull KTM Factory Racing1:29.760Q2
1199. Jorge LorenzoDucatiDucati Team1:29.820Q2
1246. Valentino RossiYamahaMovistar Yamaha MotoGP1:29.977Q2
1317. Karel AbrahamDucatiPull&Bear Aspar Team1:29.987Q2
1438. Bradley SmithKTMRed Bull KTM Factory Racing1:30.046Q2
1542. Alex RinsSuzukiTeam Suzuki ECSTAR1:30.085Q2
1645. Scott ReddingDucatiOCTO Pramac Racing1:30.140Q2
179. Danilo PetrucciDucatiOCTO Pramac Racing1:30.269Q2
1876. Loris BazDucatiReale Avintia Racing1:30.274Q2
1953. Tito RabatHondaEG 0,0 Marc VDS1:30.546Q2
2022. Sam LowesApriliaAprilia Racing Team Gresini1:30.682Q2
218. Hector BarberaDucatiReale Avintia Racing1:30.777Q2
2219. Alvaro BautistaDucatiPull&Bear Aspar Team1:31.688Q2
2323. Broc ParkesYamahaMonster Yamaha Tech 31:32.152Q2