Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s Aleix Espargaro has beaten championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) to the top of the timesheets by just 0.005 seconds in the second free practice session at the Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix 2017.
Benefitting from the slipstream of Andrea Dovizioso’s Team Ducati GP17, Espargaro’s best time of 1m29.225s came on just the fifth of his 20 laps during the 45-minute session.
Title hopeful Dovizioso ended the session in third place with a 1:29.322.
Last year’s race winner Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) looks to have cemented his position in tomorrow’s second qualifying session – which determines the grid positions for the top four rows – after finishing fourth fastest in the session that’s likely to produce the best track conditions before the 23 riders line up for Sunday’s 27-lap race.
Despite suffering a fast crash at turn eight, Movistar Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales’ best time of 1:29.423 was good enough for fifth overall, ahead of Estrella Galicia Marc VDS rider Jack Miller (1:29.466) and Team Ecstar Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone (1:29.604).
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s flying Frenchman Johann Zarco (1:29.667), Repsol Honda man Dani Pedrosa (1:29.702) and Red Bull KTM’s Pol Espargaro were the final three riders who look to have done enough heading into tomorrow morning’s all-important third practice session, which will be colder and possibly wetter than this afternoon’s warm and dry affair.
Australian rider Broc Parkes, who is deputising for a still-ill Jonas Folger in the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad this weekend, improved his lap times by almost a second compared to the opening practice session. However, the 35-year-old suffered a crash at the fast turn 11 towards the end of the session and finished 23rd fastest, less three seconds down on Espargaro’s session-topping time.
Three big names who will be hoping for favourable weather during tomorrow morning’s FP3 session are Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team), Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha) and Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing Ducati) who ended the session in 11th, 12th and 17th respectively.
The premier class riders will be out on track again at 10.55am on Saturday morning for FP3.