Pol Espargaro tops rain-hit Austrian MotoGP observe | Game

Pol Espargaro on a KTM posted the quickest time in opening practice for this weekend’s Austrian MotoGP with Friday’s second session all but wiped out by rain.

KTM are on a roll after Espargaro’s South African team-mate Brad Binder posted their breakthrough win in the elite division at the Czech MotoGP last Sunday.

And the Austrian outfit are hoping to capitalise on home advantage for this fourth leg of the coronavirus-curtailed championship.

In overcast but dry conditions Espargaro topped the morning time sheets ahead of last year’s winner Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) and Takaaki Nakagami (Honda-LCR).

Ducati have won all four Austrian races since the championship returned to Spielberg in 2016.

Binder was down in 16th as he looks to double up after his maiden MotoGP success in only his third race in his rookie season.

Fabio Quartararo, who leads the world championship standings after winning the first two races, came in 10th on his SRT Yamaha satellite bike.

Defending six-time champion Marc Marquez has yet to score a point this season after crashing in the opening race at Jerez and missing the next two races after surgery on a broken arm.

He will be absent again on Sunday but hopes to return for the fifth leg of the season back at the same Spielberg circuit next week.

Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales, second in the championship, 17 points behind Quartararo, ended the day in 11th spot.

Team-mate and seven-time MotoGP world champion Valentino Rossi was 13th.

“Basically, I think we’re having the same struggles as we had in Brno. We’re missing something overall to make the tyres work,” said Vinales.

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Rossi added: “Tomorrow we need to do a good practice because it will be crucial to be in the top 10.

“I don’t think that will be easy. At the moment the forecast for tomorrow afternoon predicts rain, not a lot, similar to what we had today. For sure, if that’s the case, anything is possible.”

Austrian MotoGP combined first and second free practice times

1. Pol Espargaro (ESP/KTM): 1min 24:193sec, 2. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA/Ducati) at 0.044sec, 3. Takaaki Nakagami (JPN/Honda-LCR) 0.185, 4. Alex Rins (ESP/Suzuki) 0.380, 5. Franco Morbidelli (ITA/Yamaha-SRT) 0.395, 6. Johann Zarco (FRA/Ducati-Avintia) 0.462, 7. Miguel Oliveira (POR/KTM-Tech3) 0.525, 8. Jack Miller (AUS/Ducati-Pramac) 0.531, 9. Joan Mir (ESP/Suzuki) 0.550, 10. Fabio Quartararo (FRA/Yamaha-SRT) 0.560

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