2017 Phillip Island MotoGP Friday: Aprilia’s Espargaro Quickest

2017 Phillip Island MotoGP Friday: Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro
Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro

2017 Phillip Island MotoGP Friday Results

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.

2017 Phillip Island MotoGP Friday: Aprilia's Aleix Espargaro
Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro

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.”

2017 Phillip Island MotoGP Friday: Honda's Marc Marquez
Honda’s Marc Marquez

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.

2017 Phillip Island MotoGP Friday: Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso
Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso

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 Bianchetto

For full results and a photo gallery, click to page 2