Martin keeps his momentum to top Day 1

Martin Keeps His Momentum To Top Day 1It’s a KTM kinda day on Friday at Phillip Island with four Austrian machines in the top five – and a few surprises outside it.

Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) took his first Moto2™ podium last time out and the Spaniard picked up where he left off on Day 1 at the Pramac Generac Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix, this time topping the overall timesheets and with quite a margin. The rookie was 0.343 ahead of teammate Brad Binder by the end of play, with Jorge Navarro (Beta Tools Speed Up) completing the top three and the only non-KTM in the top five.

FP1 was wet and FP2 dry, but the same name was at the top: Martin. He led the first session ahead of fellow rookie Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) and a standout performance from Stefano Manzi (MV Agusta Temporary Forward), but the dry conditions in FP2 shuffled the combined timesheets behind Martin. In the second session, Binder came to the fore followed by Navarro, with newly-announced 2020 Red Bull KTM Tech 3 MotoGP™ rider Iker Lecuona putting his American Racing machine into fourth overall.

Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) was another rookie who, like Martin, shone on Day 1 Down Under. The Italian was seventh in the wet and moved up to fifth in the dry, building on some solid progress of late to end the day ahead of Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team). Bulega was P7 overall ahead of Championship leader Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS), who had a fairly solid day inside the top ten in both conditions, although a crash in the morning saw him pushing the bike back to pitlane.

Ninth overall went to a some impressive speed in the dry for Jesko Raffin (NTS RW Racing GP) as the Swiss rider pulled yet more pace at Phillip Island out the bag, ahead of an equally impressive result for Manzi completing the top ten. Raffin was also a protagonist in the most high-profile incident of the day in the intermediate class as he clashed with Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) or rather, vice versa. The Brit has been sent to the back of the grid for irresponsible riding.

Second in the Championship Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) had a lower profile day in P11 overall, with rookie Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) splitting him from fellow title hopeful Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40) as the Spaniard took P13. They’ll be looking for much more on Saturday but they’re at least provisionally into Q2, along with the man in fourteenth: Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40). With the weather looking worse not better tomorrow, that could prove key.

Fabio Di Giannanontio (Beta Tools Speed Up) was a somewhat surprising name to end the day outside the cut as he was P15, ahead of Lowes in sixteenth. Both crashed. Home hero Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) likewise as the Aussie suffered a big one – rider ok but P19 overall. And last but not least, back-to-back winner Luca Marini (Sky Racing Team VR46) was down in P20, just ahead of Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP). Marini crashed in FP1 but was declared fit after getting reviewed before FP2.

That’s Friday done Down Under and it seems to be Binder who holds the cards in the crucial Championship fight. Will the South African continue the roll on Saturday? Can Martin stay at the top? Or will a new day bring another new shuffle through the pack and even more inclement weather…find out when FP3 begins at 9:55 (GMT +11), before qualifying from the equally earlier time of 13:30.

Friday’s fastest:
1 – Jorge Martin (SPA – KTM) 1’33.010
2 – Brad Binder (RSA – KTM) +0.353
3 – Jorge Navarro (SPA – Speed Up) +0.395
4 – Iker Lecuona (SPA – KTM) +0.464
5 – Marco Bezzecchi (ITA – KTM) +0.471

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