Australian MotoGP: Zarco dominates day one at Phillip Island

Johann Zarco built on his top time in FP1 to come out on top of the final flurry of fast laps in FP2 to end day one on top ahead of the Australian MotoGP round, with Fabio Quartararo the best placed title hopeful at Phillip Island.

Johann Zarco went faster on a dryer track after the tricky conditions of FP1 to lead the way after day one of the Australian MotoGP.

The Pramac Ducati rider was always present near the top of the timesheets thanks to his best run earlier in the day where the riders had to contend with streams of water on track after heavy rain earlier.

With the sun out after some more showers in between and a couple of runs under his belt the Frenchman edited his lap down to a best of 1m 29.475s to finish day one on top.

Marco Bezzecchi was his nearest rival. After also hitting the top spot briefly during the session, the Mooney VR46 rookie moved his Yamaha into second, just 0,038s slower after coming out near the top when all the rapid  late fast laps had been posted.

Pol Espargaro seemed united with his Repsol Honda in the cooler conditions, more able to ride around any issues. That took the Spanish rider to third.

Advantage Quartararo after day one

MotoGP arrives in Australia with a tight battle at the top of the championship standings - after a strong run of form Francesco Bagnaia has reduced what stood as a 91 point gap to leader Fabio Quartararo down to just a two point deficit.

They are not the only riders who remain in play - with the top five riders only separated by 40 points Aleix Espargaro, Enea Bastianini and Jack Miller are all in with a shout of the 2022 title.

With a fresh haircut and a serious look on his face, a very determined Fabio Quartararo enjoyed the best day one of those still in contention for the crown pushing his Monster Energy Yamaha to fourth.

Aleix Espargaro came closest to his time, placing the Aprilia seventh. Francesco Bagnaia had the next best time in eighth after spending much of the session outside of the top ten and on a slightly different track schedule to most of the class.

Enea Bastianini was right behind in ninth for Gresini, with the trio closely matched on times.

Jack Miller had beenfighting Johann Zarco in the earlier, wet, tricky conditions to top that session. He gave himself a lot to do on Saturday as his hopes of a home win took a slight knock as he finished the session 13th on the Lenovo Ducati, leaving his last, fast run a little too late and not making the most of the conditions. 

If the weather is fine come FP3 the Australian stands every chance to go directly to Q2 as despite his position the session was very close - he was only just over half a second behind Zarco’s top time.

Away from the title battle Mavarick Vinales impressed on the second Aprilia, chipping away at his best to finish FP2 in fifth. Marc Marquez also looked comfortable on the Honda as he moved up to sixth.

 Jorge Martin completed the top ten for Pramac Ducati, completing a strong opening day for the team.

Thai GP winner Miguel Oliveira was eleventh for Red Bull KTM, a big improvement after being well off the pace in 18th in Q1.

Joan Mir finished day one in twelfth as he returns for his first race weekend with Suzuki since the Austrain Grand Prix.

Like Miller, Alex Marquez was heading in the wrong direction, also dropping eleven places from FP1 on the LCR Honda in 14th.

Round 18 of the MotoGP world championship sees the paddock return to Phillip Island for the first time since 2019 for the Australian Grand Prix.

That means there are a whole host of riders with no experience of the Melbourne track - Brad Binder, Alex Marquez, Jorge Martin, Enea Bastianini, Luca Marini and rookies Marco Bezzecchi, Fabio Di Giannantonio, Darryn Binder, Raul Fernandez and home rider Remy Gardner.

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