News 20 Oct 2017

Aprilia's Espargaro fastest in MotoGP on Friday at Phillip Island

Miller excels in sixth following the first two practices of home grand prix.

Image: Russell Colvin.

Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) went quickest on day one of the 2017 Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, mastering Phillip Island in FP2 to head the time-sheets.

Espargaro’s 1m29.225s was ahead of reigning champion and points leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), but not by much as the top 16 riders were split by less than a second.

Marquez’s key title rival Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) finished Friday in third, as last year’s winner at the Island Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) was fourth fastest after moving up the time-sheets in FP2 to get in the mix at the front, ahead of Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP).

Australia’s Jack Miller (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) impressed in the morning and again in the afternoon as he rides at home and only three weeks after breaking his leg in a training accident. The rider from Townsville put his Honda in sixth, and was a fitting 0.043s off Viñales ahead of him.

Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was another who enjoyed a notable Friday, with the Italian’s fourth at Motegi giving him a boost and day one of the Australian GP seeing the former podium finisher at the venue put himself in seventh.

Johann Zarco (Monster Yamah Tech 3) had a solid start in eighth, with the Frenchman gunning for the Rookie of the Year title and, with the absence of teammate Jonas Folger, needing only a top six finish to complete the task on Sunday.

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) was ninth quickest and was back nearer the front following a tough Japanese GP, as Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) went a tenth quicker in the afternoon to take P10 ahead of Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP).

That could be a hurdle for the two multiple world champions as the weather remains in doubt for Saturday, when automatic graduation to Q2 will be finalised. Second of the Aussies, Broc Parkes, found his feet on the Monster Yamaha Tech3 M1, 23rd overall after crashing in FP2.