#AustralianGP Phillip Island, Friday roundup: MotoGP, Moto2, Moto3
Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) doubled up on Friday Down Under, fastest in both FP1 and FP2 – but it was incredibly close by the end of play. The Frenchman leads on the combined timesheets by just 0.038 from rookie Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team), with Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda Team)completing the top three and still within 0.052 of the top.
So where are the title challengers? Championship leader Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) was fourth and within a tenth of the 44, with Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) seventh, Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) eighth and Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) ninth. Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) was P13 on Day 1 and will be the first looking for a lot more from a flier on Saturday.
There were four different manufacturers in the top five as Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) was just behind Quartararo, the number 12 starting off strong at a venue he’s ruled before. The gap between Quartararo and Viñales, 0.131, is the only gap in the top 18 that’s bigger than a single tenth.
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) in P6 makes a pair of Hondas in the top ten, and the number 93 was also seen out on track trying out some new aero – a new add-on to the tail unit in FP1 and then a new aero body in the afternoon.
Marc Marquez, Viñales, Quartararo was how the top three sat ahead of the time attacks, with Aleix Espargaro in the danger zone in 10th and Bagnaia one position outside the provisional Q2 cut-off. With cool conditions expected on Saturday morning, the stakes were high and lap times started to tumble again, with Bezzecchi, Viñales and Quartararo all taking turns at the top. Bezzecchi had been shuffled back to sixth when he fired in a 1:29.513 to go fastest again in the final minute, but that was bettered by Zarco by 0.038 seconds just before the chequered flag.
As it stands, Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) is the first to miss the Q2 cut in P11, just ahead of the returning Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) – just meaning 0.021.
Jake Dixon (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) dominated Friday in Australia, pulling out nearly four tenths ahead of Fermin Aldeguer (Beta Tools SpeedUp) and Alonso Lopez (Beta Tools SpeedUp), with the Boscoscuro duo completing the top three. Lopez, however, was also given a Long Lap for the race after causing a crash in FP1 with Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team).
Championship leader Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) topped FP1, and he ends the day in P7 overall – with key rival Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia)struggling to P17 on Friday.
Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) was fourth quickest, ahead of a fast Friday for Sam Lowe (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) as the Brit continues his comeback from injury. Aron Canet (Flexbox HP 40) slots into sixth ahead of Fernandez. Buriram podium finisher Filip Salač (Gresini Racing Moto2™) was eighth, with Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) and Albert Arenas (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) completing the top ten, the former despite a crash in FP2, rider ok.
It was a Japanese 1-2 on Friday last time out and it’s the same as the Animoca Brands Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix gets in gear. Ayumu Sasaki (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) was quickest by 0.189 ahead of Tatsuki Suzuki (Leopard Racing), with rookie Diogo Moreira (MT Helmets – MSI) impressing in third on his debut at The Island – after also topping FP1.
As conditions improved, in FP2 every single rider also improved their time significantly by the end of the session. Behind Sasaki and Suzuki there were a few tenths back to Moreira, but then it tightened up again and it’s Championship leader Izan Guevara (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team) who ends the day in fourth – despite a crash in FP1.
Still, he’s only 0.025 ahead of teammate Sergio Garcia (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team), and Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) is close behind in sixth as they, and Sasaki, look to stop Guevara taking the crown. The number 28 is 49 points clear and needs more than 50 in hand by the flag to secure the title.
Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team), Stefano Nepa (Angeluss MTA Team), Jaume Masia (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Adrian Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Tech3)complete the top ten… and Fernandez has a double Long Lap to take this weekend for his part in a crash in Buriram.