The second of three back-to-back fly-away rounds in 2017 MotoGP began Friday at Phillip Island in Australia.Under windy and fluctuating temperatures, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s Aleix Espargaro struggled in the opening 45-minute free practice, finishing 12th behind leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda).
Things changed dramatically for Espargaro during the second free practice. The Spaniard improved his time by more than 1.2 seconds to claim the top time aboard the RS-GP – the first time Aprilia topped a session all season.Espargaro claimed the top time with a 129.225, which was a mere 0.005 of a second ahead of Marquez, the current points leader. To put this time into perspective, the Circuit Record Lap (under race conditions) is a 1:28.108 (Marquez, 2013, Repsol Honda).“It is just the first day, but we are clearly doing a great job. I am proud to be part of this project and I am sure that the guys in Noale will also be happy with the results we are achieving,” Aleix Espargaro says.“To be honest, I did not expect it because this morning I didn’t have a good feeling. The track conditions are rather demanding, as they always are at Phillip Island, but in FP2 I was able to put a good lap together. We can improve on pace. The RS-GP still doesn’t turn the way I would like it to and I am lacking a bit of feeling on the front. Finding a good feeling for the race will be fundamental. Today we saw a lot of crashes and with the rain everything will be even harder.”Third quickest was the man who chases Marquez by 11 points in the race for the 2017 title, Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso. The Italian, who won at a soaked Motegi MotoGP in Japan last weekend after passing Marquez on the final corner, finished 0.097 of second behind.Last year’s winner, LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow, was fourth quickest 0.104 of a second off the pace, followed closely by Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Vinales and Australia native Jack Miller on the Marc VDS Honda RC213V. Miller’s performance was impressive considering he broke his leg three weeks ago while training.Rounding out the top time during 2017 Phillip Island MotoGP Friday practice were Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Andrea Iannone, Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Johann Zarco, Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa and Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pol Espargaro. Ducati Team’s Jorge Lorenzo was 11th, followed by nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP).The 23-rider grid returns to the Aussie circuit Saturday for two more free practice sessions ahead of qualifying for Sunday’s 27-lap MotoGP.Photo by Luciano BianchettoFor full results and a photo gallery, click to page 2
This week, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the all new Ducati Monster. Big changes have been made by Ducati–has the company ruined the considerable heritage of the iconic Monster–or are the changes worth it? In the second part of the show, we chat with Nick Ienatsch, Founder and Head Instructor at the Yamaha Champions Riding School. He says: “We aim to change your riding life by introducing you to Champions Habits: The techniques, approaches, skills, and the mindsets of the best riders in the world. These Champions Habits are the foundation of safety and consistency to whatever speed you ride, in any venue on any bike. Street riders, this is just as much for you as track riders. The best way to make safe riders is to make good riders.“ We hope you enjoy this episode!