Jorge Lorenzo edged Marc Marquez as this year’s two MotoGP title contenders set a blazing pace in first practice at Phillip Island.
Just 0.088 seconds separated the pair at the checkered flag, with Lorenzo eventually prevailing when he dipped down to a 1m29.167s. The pair had taken turns at the top before Lorenzo’s late effort.
Marquez can mathematically wrap up a rookie championship this weekend in Australia, although he needs to outscore Lorenzo by at least eight points. The two championship rivals were in a class of their own throughout, and were set to finish nearly one second clear of the entire field until several riders improved in the final minutes.
Chief among them was Gresini Honda rider Alvaro Bautista, who produced a 1m29.831s – still some six tenths down on Lorenzo – to steal into third ahead of works counterpart and Sepang winner Dani Pedrosa.
Valentino Rossi meanwhile edged Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow in the fight for fifth, with the Briton in turn less than a quarter of a second clear of team-mate Bradley Smith.
Nicky Hayden, who will join the Aspar squad and ride Honda’s production racer next season, was eighth fastest.
Randy de Puniet claimed top CRT honors in ninth, finishing fractions ahead of Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso and Pramac’s Andrea Iannone.
Stefan Bradl, riding less than a week after fracturing and then having surgery on his right ankle, managed 11 laps and wound up 20th overall. He was declared fit to start first practice at Phillip Island, but will need to undergo further medical checks in order to continue competing.
Pos Rider Team/Bike Time Gap Laps 1. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1m29.167s 20 2. Marc Marquez Honda 1m29.255s +0.088s 20 3. Alvaro Bautista Gresini Honda 1m29.831s +0.664s 21 4. Dani Pedrosa Honda 1m30.008s +0.841s 19 5. Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1m30.053s +0.886s 22 6. Cal Crutchlow Tech 3 Yamaha 1m30.130s +0.963s 22 7. Bradley Smith Tech 3 Yamaha 1m30.361s +1.194s 22 8. Nicky Hayden Ducati 1m30.666s +1.499s 20 9. Randy de Puniet Aspar Aprilia 1m31.280s +2.113s 2210. Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 1m31.295s +2.128s 1711. Andrea Iannone Pramac Ducati 1m31.295s +2.128s 2012. Alex Espargaro Aspar Aprilia 1m31.458s +2.291s 1813. Colin Edwards Forward FTR-Kawasaki 1m31.557s +2.390s 1814. Hiroshi Aoyama Avintia FTR-Kawasaki 1m31.637s +2.470s 1915. Hector Barbera Avintia FTR-Kawasaki 1m31.766s +2.599s 1816. Danilo Petrucci Ioda-Suter-BMW 1m31.803s +2.636s 2417. Claudio Corti Forward FTR-Kawasaki 1m32.300s +3.133s 1718. Yonny Hernandez Pramac Ducati 1m32.341s +3.174s 1819. Bryan Staring Gresini FTR-Honda 1m32.741s +3.574s 2020. Stefan Bradl LCR Honda 1m33.165s +3.998s 1121. Luca Scassa Cardion Aprilia 1m33.234s +4.067s 1822. Lucas Pesek Ioda-Suter-BMW 1m33.797s +4.630s 1623. Michael Laverty PBM-Aprilia 1m33.875s +4.708s 2324. Damian Cudlin PBM Aprilia 1m35.906s +6.739s 20