Brad Binder fronted a KTM MotoGP 1-2 at the end of Friday at Phillip Island, while Francesco Bagnaia will be forced to escape from Q1 once again.
Times steadily reduced as the session progressed, with Jorge Martin’s FP1-leading effort of 1:29.030s remaining as the fastest of the weekend until the final 15 minutes of the session. Aleix Espargaro was the man to eclipse Martin’s time, the Aprilia man banging in a 1:28.841s.
Despite having further improved on his following gambit, team-mate Maverick Vinales moved ahead on a 1:28.649s before Martin smashed the Spaniard with a 1:28.299s.
It would be Binder who ultimately walked away with the honors on Friday by breaking the 1:27 barrier, the KTM pilot managing a 1:27.943s to put himself just 0.148s clear of team-mate and home hero Jack Miller as the day came to a close.
Another late improvement from Vinales ensured he ended the day third overall just ahead of Martin, whose second flying tour was compromised as he came across a struggling Bagnaia. His first lap was still good enough to keep him fourth though, while GasGas’ Pol Espargaro impressed to complete the top five.
Marco Bezzecchi was sixth for VR46 ahead of Fabio Di Gianantonio, the Gresini rider’s late-season resurgence continuing in Australia as he secured a guaranteed Q2 berth.
Enea Bastianini outshone team-mate Bagnaia once again to secure eighth ahead of Aleix. At the same time, Johann Zarco clung onto the final automatic pole shootout passage having posted the same time as Espargaro.
Bagnaia was the first man to miss out on a Friday Q2 place, the Italian improving on his final lap but still coming nearly two-tenths-of-a-second short of out-running Zarco. This leaves him in the pressurised situation of having to progress from Q1 for the second straight week.
Also struggling were Marc Marquez and Fabio Quartararo, who posted times good enough for only 16th and 17th respectively for Honda and Yamaha behind the returning Alex Marquez’s Gresini Ducati.
Marquez was also the only man to go down during the test, the six-time premier class champion losing the front of his RC213V mid-way through the slow Turn 20 right-hander. Quartararo meanwhile had his final lap compromised at the same bend, as Augusto Fernandez moved across in front of him while on a slow lap on entry to the unsighted corner.
Alex Rins ended up as the best-placed Honda in 12th overall for LCR, the Spaniard just 0.002s adrift of Bagnaia.
Luca Marini also struggled as he lapped just over 1.2s from Binder’s benchmark to complete the day 19th just behind the other factory Honda of Joan Mir.
Miguel Oliveira also struggled to put together a competitive lap as he languished down in 20th by the end of the day, the RNF Aprilia racer ahead of only LCR’s Takaaki Nakagami and Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli.