Alex Marquez upstages Martin in Malaysia MotoGP Practice

Alex Marquez was fastest in Practice for the Malaysian MotoGP. Image: Gold & Goose/Red Bull Content Pool

Gresini Ducati rider Alex Marquez has usurped championship contender Jorge Martin with his final lap in MotoGP Practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix.

Both Pramac Racing’s Martin and championship-leading factory Ducati Team counterpart Francesco Bagnaia are safely through to Qualifying 1 at Sepang, the latter taking eighth in the decisive Friday practice session.

Overcast conditions and nearby rain created a sense of urgency when pit lane opened for the hour-long hit-out, with all but Miguel Oliveira (RNF Aprilia) starting on medium compound Michelin tyres, front and rear.

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) was fastest after the first flyers on a 1:59.515s before Alex Marquez moved the marker to a 1:58.705s next time around.

Meanwhile, Aprilia Racing’s Aleix Espargaro went down at Turn 1 and, although he remounted, he was unable to restart his RS-GP.

Pramac bolted on another set of new Michelin medium slicks to Martin’s Ducati and he went quickest with a 1:58.523s on his second run.

As Practice moved into its second half-hour, Aleix Espargaro had his second crash of the session, and third of the day, this time at Turn 9.

With just under 15 minutes remaining, Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) moved to the top on a 1:58.399s, only to be usurped immediately by Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha) on a 1:58.399s, then hit back immediately on a 1:58.310s.

As that was going on, Aleix Espargaro made it four crashes for the day, hitting the deck at Turn 5, then Alex Marquez returned to first position on a 1:58.227s.

Bagnaia jumped from 16th to fourth on a 1:58.420s and that was where he still sat, one position ahead of Free Practice 1 fast man Martin, when the field rolled out for the final time attacks with six minutes to go.

Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) was safely through to Q2 when he improved from 10th to third with a 1:58.312s, and Alez Marquez also looked on to improve until he had a lap cancelled when Raul Fernandez (RNF Aprilia) crashed at Turn 9 and triggered a yellow flag.

Martin climbed from seventh back to first with a 1:57.997s and Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM) vaulted from 16th to third on a 1:58.232s in the final minute before the chequered flag, after which Alex Marquez clocked a 1:57.823s.

He therefore finished quickest, from Martin, Miller, Binder, Viñales, Luca Marini (VR46 Ducati), Quartararo, Bagnaia on a 1:58.420s, Marco Bezzecchi (VR46 Ducati), and Johann Zarco (Pramac Ducati) in 10th.

Those going into Qualifying 1 tomorrow morning include Enea Bastianini (Ducati Team) in 12th on the timesheet, Marc Marquez in 15th, and Aleix Espargaro in 20th.

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