Motorcycling: Espargaro edges Marquez in Phillip Island practice

Spain’s MotoGP rider Pol Espargaro steers his KTM during the first practice session for the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island near Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)
Updated 20 October 2017
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Motorcycling: Espargaro edges Marquez in Phillip Island practice

PHILLIP ISLAND, Australia: Aleix Espargaro pipped world championship leader Marc Marquez to set the fastest time in Friday’s practice ahead of this weekend’s Australian MotoGP at Phillip Island.
The Spanish Aprilia rider posted a quickest lap of one minute 29.225 seconds in second free practice on a dry track ahead of Sunday’s race.
Espargaro’s time, set on the fifth lap of his afternoon session, prevailed by just 0.005secs over Marquez, who almost bettered the time on his penultimate lap.
Marquez, who leads the world championship by 11 points with three races left, clocked 1:29.230 following his chart-topping 1:29.602 in the morning session.
Championship challenger Andrea Dovizioso was third quickest overall, finishing just 0.097secs behind Espargaro.
Ducati’s Dovizioso downed Marquez on the final lap to win last weekend’s rain-soaked Japanese GP and is second in the world championship.
Briton Cal Crutchlow, the winner of last year’s Australian race, was fourth fastest on a Honda, only 0.104secs down on the leader’s time.
Spain’s Maverick Vinales was fifth fastest despite coming off his Yamaha early in afternoon practice.
Australian Jack Miller, in his first MotoGP event back since breaking a leg during training, was sixth ahead of Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone.
Six-time premier class Phillip Island winner, Valentino Rossi, trailed in 12th place overall on his Yamaha, some 0.752secs behind Espargaro’s time.
The weather on the opening day was sunny, but the forecast for Saturday is for cooler temperatures and possible showers.


‘My feelings? Mixed’: Sebastian Vettel clings on in desperate Lewis Hamilton pursuit as Kimi Raikonnen wins US Grand Prix

Updated 22 October 2018
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‘My feelings? Mixed’: Sebastian Vettel clings on in desperate Lewis Hamilton pursuit as Kimi Raikonnen wins US Grand Prix

AUSTIN: Sebastian Vettel said he felt mixed emotions after keeping his slender title challenge alive by finishing fourth in Sunday’s United States Grand Prix, won by Ferrari team-mate Kimi Raikkonen.
The four-time champion, who started fifth on the grid after taking a three-place penalty, recovered from an opening lap spin to fight through the field in a tactical contest that left Lewis Hamilton frustrated in his bid to clinch his fifth drivers world title.
“My feelings? Mixed,” he said. “Happy. Really happy for Kimi. But not much for me. It should have been a better day.”
Vettel can only stop Hamilton taking his fifth drivers title next weekend in Mexico by winning the race and hoping Hamilton hits problems that keep him out of the top seven places.
He said he suffered a major blow when he clashed with Red Bull’s Daniel Ricciardo on the opening lap.
“I must have been in his blind spot. I’m not sure he saw me. The corner kept tightening and we hit. It was a big loss for me.”
Vettel’s disappointment took nothing away from a resurgent Ferrari’s satisfaction in recovering their mid-season pace, after abandoning several recent upgrades, and claiming a revitalising victory.
“I am very proud of them all,” said Ferrari team chief Maurizio Arrivabene.
“I was always proud of the guys and even more when we are winning races. It’s been hard for us recently and we had a race engineer pass away last weekend.... I have nothing more to add. It was great today. Thank you USA!“
Mercedes team chief Toto Wolff admitted that Ferrari had been faster than his team, as he had feared.
“We lacked the pace and I said don’t close it too early. They are very fast. Kimi winning is great for him and for Ferrari, so let’s go to the next race in Mexico now.
“It was difficult to overtake, but for us it was a strategy that got worse as it progressed. We need to re-think and see what we can do better. We put on a good show altogether and that’s what’s more important.”