Brad Binder denied local hero Jack Miller the top spot on the first day of action to lead a KTM 1-2 in Friday Practice for the Australian MotoGP, while Pecco Bagnaia finds himself on the back foot again after missing the Q2 cut.
With conditions improving markedly over the course of the day, the best of the lap times would come in the closing moments as Binder and Miller tussled over the top spot on their factory KTM RC16s.
It was the South African that would shake out on top, however, his benchmark of 1m 27.943secs proving the only lap to dip below 1m 28secs, just under a tenth quicker than his Australian team-mate.
Maverick Vinales chased the KTM duty on the best of the Aprilia contingent in third place, ahead of Jorge Martin, who put the disappointment of his crash from the lead of the Indonesian MotoGP less than a week ago to stamp his authority on his title fight with Pecco Bagnaia in Australia.
Indeed, Bagnaia - who briefly lost the championship lead to Martin during the Mandalika round before reclaiming it with victory in Sunday’s full-length race - is faced with another tall task at Phillip Island after failing to secure a direct passage into Q2.
The factory rider, who holds an 18-point lead over Martin coming into the weekend, fell just short of the cut for a second weekend in succession in 11th.
With the European manufacturers dominating over their Japanese counterparts once again, Pol Espargaro consolidated KTM’s positive day by placing his GasGas Tech3 bike into fifth place, ahead of outside title contender Marco Bezzecchi in sixth.
Fresh from his career-best fourth place finish in Indonesia, Fabio di Giannantonio was again among the fastest of the Ducati contingent in seventh, ahead of stablemate Enea Bastianini, while Aleix Espargaro and Johann Zarco are also straight into Q2 with the ninth and tenth best laps.
Behind Bagnaia, Alex Rins enjoyed a step forward to finish as the quickest of the Honda riders in 12th, ahead of Augusto Fernandez, who ended the day 13th having been up in second place after Free Practice 1.
Elsewhere, Alex Marquez returned to action on the Gresini Ducati after sitting out the Indonesian MotoGP, the Spaniard just ahead of brother and future team-mate Marc Marquez in 15th and 16th respectively.
Meanwhile, organisers have confirmed this weekend’s full-length Australian MotoGP will take place on Saturday, swapping its position in the schedule with the Sprint Race, in an effort to mitigate the threat of poor weather on Sunday.
|2023 Australian MotoGP | Phillip island Circuit | Practice Results | Round 16 of 20|
|1||Brad Binder||🇿🇦||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||1m 27.943|
|2||Jack Miller||🇦🇺||Red Bull KTM Factory Racing||KTM RC16||1m 28.091|
|3||Maverick Vinales||🇪🇦||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||1m 28.212|
|4||Jorge Martin||🇪🇦||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati GP23||1m 28.222|
|5||Pol Espargaro||🇪🇦||GasGas Factory Racing Tech3||KTM RC16||1m 28.363|
|6||Marco Bezzecchi||🇮🇹||Mooney VR46 Racing||Ducati GP22||1m 28.368|
|7||Fabio di Giannantonio||🇮🇹||Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati GP22||1m 28.452|
|8||Enea Bastianini||🇮🇹||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati GP23||1m 28.453|
|9||Aleix Espargaro||🇪🇦||Aprilia Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||1m 28.456|
|10||Johann Zarco||🇨🇵||Prima Pramac Racing||Ducati GP23||1m 28.456|
|11||Pecco Bagnaia||🇮🇹||Ducati Lenovo Team||Ducati GP23||1m 28.642|
|12||Alex Rins||🇪🇦||LCR Honda Castrol||Honda RC213V||1m 28.644|
|13||Augusto Fernandez||🇪🇦||GasGas Factory Racing Tech3||KTM RC16||1m 28.656|
|14||Raul Fernandez||🇪🇦||CryptoData RNF Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||1m 28.659|
|15||Alex Marquez||🇪🇦||Gresini Racing MotoGP||Ducati GP22||1m 28.661|
|16||Marc Marquez||🇪🇦||Repsol Honda Team||Honda RC213V||1m 28.790|
|17||Fabio Quartararo||🇨🇵||Monster Energy Yamaha||Yamaha M1||1m 28.937|
|18||Joan Mir||🇪🇦||Repsol Honda Team||Honda RC213V||1m 29.007|
|19||Luca Marini||🇮🇹||Mooney VR46 Racing||Ducati GP22||1m 29.164|
|20||Miguel Oliveira||🇵🇹||CryptoData RNF Racing||Aprilia RS-GP||1m 29.711|
|21||Takaaki Nakagami||🇯🇵||LCR Honda IDEMITSU||Honda RC213V||1m 29.750|
|22||Franco Morbidelli||🇮🇹||Monster Energy Yamaha||Yamaha M1||1m 29.908|