until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


KTM 1-2 in main Australia practice amid major Bagnaia setback

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
2 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

Brad Binder led a KTM 1-2 in the second Friday practice of the Australian Grand Prix weekend, as MotoGP championship leader Pecco Bagnaia fared no better than 11th.

It means Bagnaia, who leads main rival Jorge Martin by 18 points after Indonesia, will have to fight through Q1 for the second time in two weekends.

Martin's benchmark from the opening session had remained the time to beat until over 40 minutes into the hour-long second practice, when - as qualifying simulations kicked off - Aleix Espargaro used a soft rear tyre to log the first sub-1m29s lap of the weekend.

The other Aprilia of Maverick Vinales then jumped ahead, but it wasn't long before Martin held the best time of the weekend again - this time a 1m28.299s.

However, this wouldn't be enough to cement first place - and though Martin did improve on his final run, so did three other riders who all jumped ahead of him.

Binder's 1m27.943s now stood as the first and only sub-1m28s of the weekend so far, with team-mate Jack Miller 0.148s off in second.

Vinales was another tenth down to complete the top three, followed by Martin and Tech3 Gas Gas rider Pol Espargaro, making it three KTM RC16s in the top five.

Marco Bezzecchi was just 0.005s behind the younger Espargaro in sixth, while Ducati satellite rider Fabio Di Giannantonio continued his strong recent run with seventh place.

The final automatic Q2 spots went to Enea Bastianini (Ducati), Aleix Espargaro and Johann Zarco (Pramac Ducati), all within just 0.004s of Di Giannantonio.

Bagnaia, who was also outside of the top 10 in first practice, had sat 14th coming into the final minutes and was towing a number of riders on his final run - though this wasn't necessarily key to him coming up short.

He was ultimately nearly two tenths off 10th-placed Zarco, and had four other riders within just 0.019s of his time, suggesting that getting through Q1 on Saturday morning will be far from easy.

LCR rider Alex Rins was the top Honda man in 12th, while Augusto Fernandez in 13th was the sole KTM RC16 rider to miss out on the top 10.

And Fernandez is will be taking a three-place grid penalty, too, having baulked Yamaha's Fabio Quartararo badly coming out of Lukey Heights during a late flying lap for the latter.

Quartararo ended up just 17th, one place behind Honda's Marc Marquez, who had sat in the top 10 coming into the closing moments but failed to improve on his final run.

Marquez had had a very minor crash at Turn 10, the downhill left-hander coming out of Lukey Heights, earlier in the session - and though he remounted immediately, the fall took him to 25 for the season.

Straight to Q2:

KTM/Gas Gas: Binder, Miller, P Espargaro
Aprilia: Vinales, A Espargaro
Ducati: Martin, Bezzecchi, Di Giannantonio, Bastianini, Zarco

Into Q1:

Ducati: Bagnaia, A Marquez, Marini
Honda: Rins, M Marquez, Mir, Nakagami
Gas Gas: A Fernandez
Aprilia: R Fernandez, M Oliveira
Yamaha: Quartararo, Morbidelli

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