Vinales upstages champion Marquez in Australia practice


SYDNEY: Maverick Vinales upstaged world champion Marc Marquez by setting the quickest time during Friday practice for the Australian MotoGP, as French rookie Fabio Quartararo sat out the second session after a spectacular crash.

The Monster Yamaha rider won at Phillip Island last year — his team’s only victory of the season — and he revisited that form on a sunny afternoon after wet conditions in the morning caused havoc.

Vinales clocked a best lap of 1:28.824, half a second clear of Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso with Honda’s Cal Crutchlow, who suffered serious ankle injuries at the track a year ago, in third.

Marquez, who won in Japan last weekend, could only manage sixth, one clear of veteran Italian Valentino Rossi, who will race in his 400th Grand Prix on Sunday.

Vinales traded fastest times with Marquez during the dry afternoon session, but on fresh soft tyres put first place beyond doubt as his fellow Spaniard was held up on his final lap as he made a late charge.

It was a dominant display by Vinales, who also topped the time-sheets in FP1, where conditions were treacherous after morning rain.

They proved too much for rookie-of-the-year Quartararo, who was stretchered from the scene after coming off his Petronas Yamaha.

The 20-year-old, who was second in Japan, was thrown over his handlebars on turn six and there were fears he had fractured his left ankle.

While his team said x-rays gave the all-clear, he underwent further treatment to a haematoma and was ruled out of the second practice due to the painkillers he was given.

“If I can ride then good,” Quartararo said of taking part on Saturday. “If not, we won’t take any risks.”

The morning conditions were notably hard for Moto2 riders, with Marquez’s brother Alex, the championship leader, among those who came off their bikes. No serious injuries were reported.

Free practice times:

1. Maverick Vinales (ESP/Yamaha) 1min 28.824, 2. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA/Ducati) 0.496, 3. Cal Crutchlow (GBR/Honda-LCR) 0.501, 4. Danilo Petrucci (ITA/Ducati) 0.503, 5. Jack Miller (AUS/Ducati) 0.520, 6. Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda) 0.597, 7. Valentino Rossi (ITA/Yamaha) 0.612, 8.Alex Rins (ESP/Suzuki) 0.648, 9. Franco Morbidelli (ITA/Yamaha-SRT) 0.894, 10. Aleix Espargaro (ESP/Aprilia) 0.967