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Aleix Espargaro put his Open class Yamaha at the head of the timesheets during opening practice for the Australian MotoGP at Phillip Island.

Riding in dry and bright conditions, the Spaniard set a best time of 1m 29.749s on the 16th of his 18 laps, while using the special soft compound Open class rear tyre.

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Espargaro, on pole at Assen and on the podium at Aragon, finished 0.160s clear of Jorge Lorenzo's Movistar Yamaha. Lorenzo, winner of the last two races, starts this weekend just three points behind Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa, who are currently tied for second in the world championship.

Andrea Iannone was third for Pramac Ducati (+0.276s) with fellow Italian Valentino Rossi starting the weekend in fourth (+0.302s).

Marc Marquez, who wrapped up his second MotoGP crown last weekend in Japan, led from the 6th to 38th minute of the session before being pushed down to fifth (+0.330s) for Repsol Honda. Marquez saved a scare under braking for turn one when the rear of his RCV stepped out.

Andrea Dovizioso took sixth place for the Factory Ducati team (+0.634s) at the fast and flowing circuit seaside. Dovizioso is thought to have been the first rider to try the asymmetric front tyre, just before the halfway stage of the 45 minutes. Dovizioso now has two GP14.2 bikes available.

Team-mate Cal Crutchlow, riding the original version of the GP14, was a competitive seventh fastest (+0.704s), followed by former Tech 3 Yamaha team-mate Bradley Smith.

Marquez's Repsol Honda team-mate Pedrosa was just ninth (+0.918s) this morning. The Spanish media is reporting that Pedrosa's long-time crew chief Mike Leitner will leave the team at the end of this season.

Pedrosa's former team-mate and double world champion Casey Stoner watched this morning's session from the Repsol Honda pits and is tipped to take part in another Honda development test later this month.

LCR Honda's Stefan Bradl completed a top ten covered by 0.947s. Fellow satellite Honda rider Alvaro Bautista (Gresini) was the first faller of the weekend on his way to 17th.

Phillip Island is the fastest circuit on the MotoGP calendar. Following last year's tyre drama - when Bridgestone (like Dunlop in Moto2) were caught out by the new asphalt, prompting a compulsory mid-race bike swap - a new range of rear tyres have been developed, alongside the debut of an asymmetric front.

The final section of the circuit, comprising a series of fast left handers, generates the highest tyre temperatures of the whole season.

Marquez was black-flagged during last year's race after failing to pit for his spare bike within the allotted 10 laps, leaving Lorenzo to claim victory ahead of Pedrosa and Rossi.

Free Practice 1:
1. Aleix Espargaro
2. Jorge Lorenzo
3. Andrea Iannone
4. Valentino Rossi
5. Marc Marquez
6. Andrea Dovizioso
7. Cal Crutchlow
8. Bradley Smith
9. Dani Pedrosa
10. Stefan Bradl
11. Pol Espargaro
12. Yonny Hernandez
13. Nicky Hayden
14. Hector Barbera
15. Scott Redding
16. Karel Abraham
17. Alvaro Bautista
18. Alex De Angelis
19. Hiroshi Aoyama
20. Danilo Petrucci
21. Mike Di Meglio
22. Broc Parkes
23. Michael Laverty