Iannone leads Friday at Phillip Island with four factories in the top five

2018-10-28 23:37
Suzuki, Ducati, Yamaha and Honda fight for top honours on Day 1

Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) left it late to leap to the top of the combined timesheets at the Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, setting a 1:29.131 on his final lap to oust Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) from P1. The two Italians were separated by 0.160, with FP1’s quickest man Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) completing the top three made up of three different manufacturers. One of the biggest headlines of the day was less positive, however - with LCR Honda Castrol rider Cal Crutchlow, who currently leads the Independent Team rider standings, suffering a crash in FP2 that has seen the Brit declared unfit for the rest of the weekend. He was fifth fastest on Friday before the incident and will now undergo surgery on a broken right ankle and tibia in the Alfred Hospital in Melbourne.

It was an incident-filled day on the Island as Moto3™ saw an early Red Flag and subsequent delays due to track conditions, and even after there were a few riders finding the limits. Crutchlow's fellow Honda rider Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), crowned Champion in Japan, was also a crasher - escaping unscathed from a fast one at Turn 10. He also suffered a run off later in the day, as did arch rival Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP). The two men ended the day a little down the timesheets, with Marquez in P7 and Rossi rounding out that all-important top ten; inside it by 0.046. But Rossi's key rival for second overall in the standings, Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), outpaced both as he took fourth just ahead of Crutchlow - and steered clear of the drama.

Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), meanwhile, was only 0.070 behind Crutchlow to complete the top six. The Frenchman was back on front row form at Motegi and opened the Australian GP well, ahead of Marquez. With Crutchlow now unable to complete the weekend, both Zarco and Petrucci will be looking to gain on the Brit in the Independent Team rider standings.

In P8 there was some top news for home fans with another Independent Team rider as Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) ended the first day well within that all-important initial top ten - as well as only a tenth off Marquez. He was just ahead of Team Suzuki Ecstar's Alex Rins in P9 to make it both Hamamatsu factory machines in the top ten.

Hafizh Syahrin (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was top rookie in P11, ahead of Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) as top Austrian machine. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) suffered a crash - rider ok - and ended Friday in P13, ahead of Pol Epsargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Alvaro Bautista (Ducati Team) - another crasher.

That's it from a frantic Friday on Phillip Island. Come back for FP3 on Saturday morning to see who will make it through to Q2 qualifying, before the grid is decided from 16:10 local time (GMT +11).
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Binder sets the early benchmark Down Under

In the groove: Binder took his first podium in the class in Australia last year, and he begins the 2018 edition on top
South African leads the combined times on Friday, from Schrötter and Pasini

Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) has come out the Moto2™ blocks blazing on Friday at the Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix to beat Marcel Schrötter’s (Dynavolt Intact GP) FP1 time by 0.087 to go top overall, but the German rider remains second at the end of action. Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team), also by virtue of his time from the morning session, completes the top three.

Binder got in his groove in the afternoon and was able to top FP2 by over two tenths from Schrötter, with Iker Lecuona (Swiss Innovative Investors) finishing third in the session and fourth overall after improving by over three tenths. That was despite a fast crash at Turn 1 for the Spaniard, who headed to the medical centre for a checkup. Fifth overall is title race leader Francesco Bagnaia (Sky Racing Team VR46), who had a positive start to the weekend on which he faces his first match point; able to improve by over two tenths in FP2. Who was just behind him? Last year's winner and biggest rival Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo), and it was by just 0.021 seconds.

Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) was another rider to improve his time from FP1 and the Spaniard ends the day seventh overall, just over half a second off Binder’s pace. Fellow Spaniard Augusto Fernandez (Pons HP40) ends up eighth fastest despite crashing at Turn 4 in FP1, another good result for the returner to the class, with Xavi Vierge (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) rounding out the top ten.

FP2 saw a host of fallers in the Moto2™ class. Khairul Idham Pawi (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) collided with stand-in Tech 3 Racing rider Bryan Staring at Turn 4 – the latter will be assessed on Saturday morning to see if he’s fit to continue – and Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) suffered a second fall of the day at Turn 4 at almost the same time. Steven Odendaal (NTS RW Racing GP), Simone Corsi (Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2), Tetsuta Nagashima (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) and Luca Marini (SKY Racing Team VR46) also all crashed.

The intermediate class will be heading back on circuit at 10:55 local time (GMT +11) for FP3, can anyone break Binder’s early stranglehold before qualifying? And how will Championship contenders Bagnaia and Oliveira fare in a vital QP? That will be on from 14:30.
Canet claims the top from Martin on Friday

Canet was back on top on Day 1 despite recent injury struggles
Spaniard strikes in FP2 to depose compatriot Martin

Friday at the Michelin® Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix got off to a fairly dramatic start as a Red Flag brought proceedings to a halt for some time, causing delays throughout the day. What happened? Stefano Nepa (CIP - Green Power) failed to check the state of his bike as he re-joined - and he put oil down on track. Championship challenger Marco Bezzecchi (Redox PruestelGP) fell victim to that and it prefaced a long delay for the track to be cleaned - as the rain also came down as an extra complication - before we finally got back underway. Nepa was suspended from FP2 as a consequence.

Once action began again it was Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) who went quickest in FP1, but he didn't remain there as FP2 saw everyone improve their laptimes in much better conditions. Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0) took back the top and bettered Martin's time from the morning, with the points leader pushed down to second. Marcos Ramirez (Bester Capital Dubai) was only two thousandths in arrears to complete the top three, just ahead of twice-crashing Bezzecchi.

Gabriel Rodrigo (RBA BOE Skull Rider) was fifth quickest on Day 1, ahead of Motegi podium finisher Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) and Ayumu Sasaki (Petronas Sprinta Racing) as the Japanese rider once again showed top pace on Friday. Tony Arbolino (Marinelli Snipers Team) and Enea Bastianini (Leopard Racing) completed the top ten.

One big crash saw Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) running into trouble and then into Nakarin Atiratphuvapat (Honda Team Asia), although the Thai rider was able to take to the run off and rejoin. 'Diggia', who suffered a big highside in Japan, was taken to the Medical Centre for a check up and declared fit to continue at Phillip Island.

That's it from Day 1, FP3 for the lightweight class begins at 10:00 (GMT +11) on Saturday and they head out for qualifying at 13:35.

Source: Idemitsu Asia Talent Cup

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