Martin Dominates Friday Practice in Australia, Leaving Title Rival Bagnaia Trailing

AUSTRALIA: Jorge Martin asserted his dominance during Friday morning’s practice session at the Australian Grand Prix. The Spanish rider, who currently trails title rival Francesco Bagnaia by 18 points after a recent setback in Indonesia, set the pace with a blistering lap time of 1m29.039s.

Martin’s performance was nothing short of exceptional, as he became the first rider to break the 90-second barrier, clocking in at 1m29.882s. This time, it held firm until the dying moments of the session.

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Maverick Vinales of Aprilia briefly challenged Martin’s lead, clocking an impressive 1m29.777s with only three minutes remaining. However, Martin responded with lightning speed, lowering his best to 1m29.266s and then ultimately to 1m29.039s, establishing a staggering seven-tenths-of-a-second lead over the field.

Tech3 Gas rookie Augusto Fernandez emerged as a surprise contender, securing the third position with a late surge that edged out Vinales by a mere 0.018 seconds. Behind them, Brad Binder piloted his KTM to fourth place with a time of 1m30.285s, while Martin’s Pramac teammate Johann Zarco closely followed in fifth, achieving a best effort of 1m30.311s.

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The satellite Ducati riders, Marco Bezzecchi and Alex Marquez, demonstrated remarkable synchronicity, posting identical times of 1m30.434s to secure sixth and seventh place, with Bezzecchi claiming the higher position due to setting his time earlier. Local hero Jack Miller of KTM finished in eighth.

Enea Bastianini, the best of the factory Ducatis, took the ninth spot in only his second weekend back from an extended absence, while championship leader Francesco Bagnaia faced a subdued session, finishing in 11th place after a braking mishap.

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Notably, Honda rider Marc Marquez showcased his prowess early on but suffered a low-side crash at the MG right-hander, leaving him in 12th place, 1.5 seconds behind the leading Martin. LCR Honda’s Alex Rins experienced his setback with a crash at Siberia Corner, concluding the session in 14th place.

In a surprising turn, Yamaha duo Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli struggled, landing in 18th and 19th positions, respectively, nearly two seconds off the leading pace. Meanwhile, Joan Mir, riding his Honda, found himself in 20th place, facing an uphill battle in the upcoming sessions.

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Originally posted 2023-10-20 05:15:00.