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Binder, Miller and KTM star on Friday at Phillip Island

Friday, 20 October 2023

The running of the Red Bulls was too much for the opposition in Practice in the MotoGP™ Guru by Gryfyn Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, with Brad Binder and Jack Miller taking the top two spots on Friday afternoon.

South African Binder tipped Townsville’s favourite son out of the top spot by 0.148s, setting a time of 1m27.943s on KTM’s carbon fibre-framed RC16. It marks the pair as the men for the European riders to beat as the teams prepare for Saturday's Qualifying session and Race.

“I’ve said it all year,” a confident Miller said after the session, “The way this bike is through the high-speed changes of direction is pretty agile, and we’re able to find your line pretty well like that [finger snap], it’s working pretty good. So far, fingers crossed we keep that trajectory going on and getting to see what is possible.”


The third fastest was Maverick Viñales on the factory Aprilia, ahead of one of the riders fighting out the points lead, Jorge Martin. The Spaniard is looking for his fifth straight win in the Saturday Race and will take a significant advantage into the weekend.

That is because the man who leads him in the championship points, Pecco Bagnaia, will have to go through the first Qualifying session for the second weekend in succession. Bagnaia started his final run in 14th place and could only improve to 11th place, and will be desperate to make it into the top 10 to limit any advantage that Martin might have.

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Other notable performances came from two riders who will lose their current seats next season. Pol Espargaro, who will be demoted to Tech3 GasGas’s reserve rider role next year, was a strong fifth fastest and Fabio Di Giannantonio, who was seventh on the Gresini Ducati, as he works hard to find a seat on the 2024 grid.

The man who will replace him, Marc Marquez, had a tough Friday. Apart from finishing the day in 16th place was a lowly 16th, and worse, the eight-time World Champion experienced his 24th and 25th crashes of the season on his stubborn Repsol Honda.

But he did manage to finish ahead of two ex-World Champions, Fabio Quartararo, 17th on the factory Yamaha and Joan Mir, 18th on the second Repsol Honda.

Saturday’s MotoGP™ action will start at 10:10 am with the third Practice session, while Qualifying will start at 10:50 am.