Espargaro edges Ducati quintet in Friday practice

Aleix Espargaro

Aleix Espargaro has continued his and Aprilia’s strong form to finish the opening day of MotoGP action at Mugello atop the timesheets.

Following an earlier session which was topped by LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami on a 1:46.662s, times tumbled in Free Practice 2 at the Italian venue.

Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing) was the first of 12 riders to better that effort, the fastest time eventually being inched down to a 1:45.891s set by Espargaro in the final three minutes.

That left him ahead of a pack of Ducati riders, namely factory team-mates Francesco Bagnaia and Jack Miller, plus Zarco, Luca Marini (VR46 Racing Team) and Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing) in fourth through sixth.

While nearly four tenths adrift of Bagnaia, Miller was happy with his day’s work.

“The bike is working relatively well: In the afternoon, we used a pre-heated tyre with which I couldn’t get a good feeling, but as soon as I put on the soft tyre, the feeling improved, and I was able to pick up my pace,” he said.

“I am positive about tomorrow’s qualifying, but we still have to work on the race pace.

“Tomorrow the weather could worsen, but that’s not something that worries me.

“Racing at Mugello is always a lot of fun, and at the moment, we have a really competitive package, as shown by the fact that many Ducati bikes were fast today. So I’m positive.”

Others to beat the FP1 benchmark were Brad Binder, Marco Bezzecchi, Fabio Quartararo, Pol Espargaro, Jorge Martin, and Marc Marquez.

Remy Gardner finished the day 25th of 26.

Free Practice 3 for MotoGP kicks off tonight at 17:55 AEST before the back-to-back FP4 (21:30) and two phases of qualifying (starting 22:10).

Quartararo leads the championship by four points from Aleix Espargaro after seven rounds.

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