MARQUEZ HOLDS UPPER HAND AHEAD OF QUALIFYING – Auto Action
Star Spaniard Marc Marquez holds the upper hand as attention turns to qualifying in the 2022 Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island.
The man who has won two of the last three races at Phillip Island topped a frantic Free Practice 3 session to be the favourite for pole position when qualifying starts at 14: 10 this afternoon.
Despite parts of the track including Stoner Corner being underwater on the eve of the Grand Tarifs, all sessions went ahead as planned on Friday, with wildlife causing headaches rather than mother nature.
The MotoGP paddock knew it had arrived in Australia for the first time within three years whenever both Pol and Aleix Espargaro experienced some close calls along with a wallaby bouncing across the circuit.
Satellite Ducati rider Johann Zarco managed dodge the wildlife and edge ahead associated with home-town hero Jack Miller by just 0. 091s in order to top the opening practice session.
But Miller struggled to find the same pace on the factory Ducati in the afternoon program and could only register a P13 as set up issues held him back.
Australian KTM rider Remy Gardner finished in P20 and P22 across the particular two classes, which were both topped by Zarco.
Yet with the top 10 combined practice times getting a ticket to ride into Qualifying 2, the stakes were raised in this morning’s Free Practice 3.
Zarco’s 1: 29. 475 benchmark from Friday remained the high-water mark for most from the 45-minute session until a helter-skelter final quarter of an hour.
Repsol Honda star Marquez delivered with his final lap of the program to steal P1 at the death with the 1: 28. 462.
He was a tenth of a second clear of Luca Marini, who was joined by Mooney VR46 Racing teammate Marco Bezzecchi within the top five.
Miller sealed a safe passage in to Q2 after a 1 . 3s improvement through Friday to finish sixth, two spots ahead of teammate Francesco Bagnaia, while the fastest Ducati rider was Jorge Martin.
Aleix Espargaro, Alex Marquez and Maverick Viñales were the other riders to finish in the top 10, along with championship leader Fabio Quartararo, who had a very nervous session.
Quartararo had to dig deep to get into Q2, plus just scraped into the 10 by 0. 045s.
But Zarco (P11) Enea Bastianini (P17) Brad Binder (P20) and Gardner (P22) were not as lucky plus must negotiate their way through Q1.
Free Practice 4 starts at 13: 30 and is immediacy followed simply by what shapes up to be an exciting fight for pole.
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