Espargaro edges Marquez, Dovizioso in practice

Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso may be fighting for the MotoGP title, but the duo were pipped by Aleix Espargaro in practice in Australia.

Aleix Espargaro steers his Aprilia during the first practice session for the Australian Moto GP at Phillip Island.   -  AP

Aleix Espargaro edged Moto GP title contenders Marc Marquez and Andrea Dovizioso in practice at the Australian Grand Prix on Friday. Espargaro set the pace at Phillip Island with his time of one minute, 29.225 seconds in second practice. Every rider was quicker in second practice than in first, but Marquez (+0.005s) and Dovizioso (+0.097s) could not get ahead of Espargaro.


Repsol Honda's Marquez entered the weekend with an 11-point lead over Ducati's Dovizioso after the Italian's thrilling win in Japan. The third last round of the season appears to be an equally entertaining one, with 15 riders within a second of Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) on Friday.


It was a far from ideal start to the weekend for Alvaro Bautista, who crashed twice in practice. The Spanish Pull&Bear Aspar rider went off in the grass at turn eight before later finding trouble at turn four.


Maverick Vinales also came off at turn eight, but he was fifth quickest for the day – behind Espargaro, Marquez, Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow.


A five-time Moto GP winner in Australia, Valentino Rossi struggled, posting the 12th fastest time.

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