MotoGP: Espargaró a surprise leader on day one

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Aleix Espargaró has ended the first day of action at the Australian Grand Prix a surprise provisional pole position, handing Aprilia the top spot after making the most of windy but sunny conditions at Phillip Island to finish a mere 0.005 ahead of championship contender Marc Marquez.

Marquez was the fastest man of the morning’s free practice session, but as track temperatures heated up in the afternoon it was the elder of the Espargaró brothers who managed to pip him as riders put in fast laps to secure a qualifying two spot for tomorrow thanks to forecast mixed conditions for tomorrow morning.

But while Marquez was second, his championship rival Andrea Dovizioso was a mere 0.092 behind him in third place, despite a late attempt from Cal Crutchlow to dethrone him ended with last year’s winner in fourth ahead of unhurt faller Maverick Viñales and home hero Jack Miller, fast in both of today’s sessions despite being on his return from a broken leg.

Andrea Iannone, Johann Zarco, Dani Pedrosa and Pol Espargaró rounded out the top ten, leaving Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi potentially taking the qualifying one route for tomorrow’s session as the duo came home in 11th and 12th respectively.

Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer