Wednesday, March 29, 2023
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MotoGP FT1 Sepang: Binder ahead of Rins and Marquez – Aprilia with problems

Brad Binder marks first fastest time at Sepang ahead of Alex Rins and Marc Marquez – Fabio Quartararo seventh without final attack – messed up start for Aprilia

Brad Binder set the fastest time for KTM in the first MotoGP free practice session at Sepang. The South African took the narrow lead with a late charge in 1’49.479. Phillip Island winner Alex Rins (Suzuki) secured second ahead of Marc Marquez (Honda).

In dry and humid conditions, the majority of riders opted for the soft front and medium rear tyres at the start of the session. Marco Bezzecchi (VR46-Ducati), who was crowned “Rookie of the Year” at Phillip Island a week ago, caused an early first crash at turn 1.

Aleix Espargaro also had a bumpy start to the session. First, the Aprilia rider went back to the pits after only one outlap. Apparently there was a problem with the bike. Back on the track, he put his bike – presumably the second bike – down in turn 8.

The session got off to a much better start for Quartararo, who took the lead early on and held it for a long time. Only in the final minutes did the Yamaha rider fall back, also because he refrained from a time attack with fresh tyres.

A total of six riders improved their times to under two minutes in the end. Binder snatched the best time away from Marquez in the last lap and went another 0.144 seconds faster. And Rins also passed the Honda rider with a late improvement. He was just 97 thousandths off Binder.

Enea Bastianini (Gresini-Ducati) was fourth, just under four tenths behind. Joan Mir completed the strong result for Suzuki with fifth place. Behind Jorge Martin (Pramac-Ducati), Quartararo finished seventh. He was one second behind.

Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini-Ducati) and the two VR46 riders Luca Marini and Bezzecchi completed the top 10. World Championship leader Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati), who like Quartararo did not put on fresh tyres at the end, was eleventh.

For Aprilia it was a practice to forget: Maverick Vinales could not go beyond 19th place with a time of 1.849 seconds. Aleix Espargaro also had to abandon his third run due to persistent technical problems. He was only able to complete five laps in total, leaving him with a competitive lap time of 20th.



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