A strong first day for the Repsol Honda Team as MotoGP action returns to Australian soil with both Espargaro and Marquez finding speed from early on.
The doom and gloom weather of Wednesday and Thursday departed Phillip Island and sun shone more or less throughout the day, with just sporadic spits of rain falling between sessions. Wind was a persistent challenge for the premier class, picking up especially in the afternoon session.
Pol Espargaro was one of the biggest improvers between sessions as he found an incredible 1.6 seconds, ending the day in third place overall as a result. Although early in the weekend, the position does provide a welcome boost to Espargaro and his side of the Repsol Honda Team garage after several trying rounds. With the wind still presenting a challenge, the #44 was able to call on his years of experience to adjust his Honda to better suit the conditions and continue to build his speed. Espargaro’s 1’29.527 saw him within 0.1s of the fastest time and 0.25s ahead of Marquez.
It was a busy day for Marc Marquez as he tested a new aero package on his Honda RC213V. Initial feedback about the new package was positive and Marquez will continue to use it tomorrow. Even with these new parts to test, the eight-time World Champion frequently featured at the top of the timing tower in both practice sessions and still finished in a respectable sixth place overall. An end of day chat with six-time Australian MotoGP race-winner Casey Stoner could help Marquez find the crucial final tenths in the unbelievably close MotoGP field.
Weather will no doubt be an important factor in Saturday’s action as forecasts continue to remain mixed. Wet or dry, both Repsol Honda Team riders have a clear target to maintain their positions and continue to make improvements.