MotoGP Assen: Miller masters wet FP1

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Ducati Lenovo’s Jack Miller proved the man to beat in a challenging opening practice at Assen’s TT Circuit on Friday morning.

Increasingly wet conditions saw the Australian set the FP1 pace thanks to a 1’42.589 lap with Suzuki Ecstar’s Joan Mir and Repsol Honda’s Pol Espargaro covered by three-tenths in the top three at the close of the first 45-minute session.

FP1 fired up with Miller saving a moment in the wet conditions at turn one before Marco Bezzecchi lost the Mooney VR46 at the same corner and Mir gravel tracked on the GSX-RR.

Monster Energy Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo and Franky Morbidelli bickered for dominance in the early session before Miller topped the times with a 1’45.172 on his fifth lap. The Desmosedici fighting the Australian the entire way through in the deteriorating conditions with teammate Pecco Bagnaia completing the quartet in fourth next time around.

LCR’s Alex Marquez sat fifth after ten minutes on track with Johann Zarco heading KTM’s Miguel Oliveira before the Pramac rose to fourth. Aprilia test rider Lorenzo Savadori split the Repsol Hondas of Stefan Bradl and Pol Espargaro on the edge of the top ten.

Enea Bastianini suffered a mammoth turn one crash with 30 minutes to go, the Gresini Ducati storming across the gravel to the barriers in the high speed off with rider up and okay.

Zarco continued his improvement as he promoted the Prima GP22 to second with a 1’45.845. Miller still dominate out front over 1.3s clear of the pack with a mid 1.44 while the trio behind were covered by a mere 0.012s. Maverick Viñales the sole rider yet to classify a time, 21 seconds adrift of the outright pace, as he became the next to suffer an off track excursion at the first turn.

The Aprilia rider found success with his eleventh attempt as he claimed third in the session as the final ten minutes approached. Bagnaia bettering next time around as Zarco became just the second rider under the 1’45 barrier in the coming stages.

Red Bull KTM’s Brad Binder headed Tech3 rookie Remy Gardner in eighth and ninth before Oliveira climbed to sixth and Pramac’s Jorge Martin found fourth. Bagnaia outpacing his teammate with eight minutes to go to lead the improving practice with a 1’44.308.

Viñales was far from done, however, having found his groove late in the session. The Spaniard setting the pace with a 1’44.128 before Espargaro claimed the first 1’43 on the Repsol RC213V. Improvements quickly coming in from Zarco and Bagnaia in second and third before Miller hit back with a 1’43.069 to retake the lead.

Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins arrived to fourth with five minutes to go, despite the Spaniards fractured wrist, teammate Mir running ninth before Fabio Di Giannantonio demoted him to the edge of the top ten. Rins continuing to rise, this time to second, next time around as Viñales joined him in the top three.

The Espargaro brothers were on the move in the penultimate minute as Pol hit the top once again and Aleix arrived to eighth. Mir challenging the Honda just a tenth back in second from Miller, Rins and Viñales before Zarco claimed fifth. Martin slotted in neatly behind his teammate as the times continued to tumble. Miller on top with a 1’42.589 from Mir and the Espargaro brothers, with the younger sibling still narrowly in charge by 0.139s from Rins and a pair of Pramacs.

Chequered flag flying, Marquez split the brothers with a late charge to fourth. Bagnaia dropped out of the top ten as Oliveira claimed sixth and ‘Top Gun’ ended the session in the provisional Q2 danger zone.

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