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Espargaró fastest, Miller sixth | MOTOGP | SPORT

Spanish rider Aleix Espargaró, riding for the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini, has topped the time-sheets on day one of the 2017 Michelin Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at a dry and mostly sunny Phillip Island circuit.

Both of today’s two 45-minute practice sessions were held in dry and slightly windy conditions, providing teams with a substantial opportunity to evaluate the slick tyres on offer this weekend.

Espargaró’s time of 1m29.225, set during the second, session was more than a second faster than his FP1 time, and just 0.005 seconds faster than current MotoGP championship leader Marc Marquez (1m29.230s) riding for the Repsol Honda team.

Third fastest overall was Marquez’s championship rival Andrea Dovizioso who posted a 1m29.322s lap on his factory Ducati to be less than a second behind the man he needs to beat this weekend to close the 11-point gap between him and the Spaniard, and MotoGP glory.

Aussie Jack Miller, returning from a broken leg which saw him miss last weekend’s Japanese Grand Prix at the Twin Ring Motegi circuit, finished the day sixth overall with a 1m29.466s lap, just 0.043 seconds slower than Espargaró. Aussie MotoGP rookie Broc Parkes, riding for the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha team, finished the day 23rd fasters with a 1m32.152s lap.

The top 16 riders were all separated by less than a second but with Espargaró’s fastest lap more than a second slower than the lap record of 1m28.108s, set by Honda’s Marc Maquez in 2013. That gap is sure to widen if the weather remains dry for tomorrow’s two 15-minute qualifying sessions which will determine the grid for Sunday’s Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix.