MotoGP Phillip Island: Sasaki heads Suzuki in Friday’s Moto3| Christina Bulpett | MotoGP
Sterilgarda Husqvarna Max’s Ayumu Sasaki led Friday’s times at Phillip Island as Moto3 action returned to Australia.
A 1’37.797 set the benchmark for the lightweight class in the dying, and drying, seconds from Leopard’s Tatsuki Suzuki with MT Helmets’ morning hero Diogo Moreira completing the top three from series leader Izan Guevara.
Moreira was on top as a damp morning practice got underway on the Island, Moto3 initially tiptoeing their way around the 4.5km layout before the session intensified by almost ten seconds with the Brazilian rookie’s 1’39.773 effort.
The drama continued as championship leader Guevara crashed his Gaviota GasGas Aspar out at Lukey Heights in the final five minutes, running eighth overall, with Suzuki, Rivacold Snipers’ returning Alberto Surra and Sterilgarda’s John McPhee suffering similar fates at Siberia and turn 11 respectively.
The rain returned across the lunchtime break, leaving the pack tentative again in the early stages. Moreira once again took charge of the session times, with a 1’45.095 fastest from fellow rookie David Muñoz on the BOE with MTA’s Ivan Ortola and Stefano Nepa rounding out the top four. VisionTrack’s Josh Whaley sat 12th as the opening 10 minutes played out, Scott Ogden getting to grips with the Australian circuit as he bettered his teammate by a tenth and one position in FP2 while sitting narrowly adrift of the promotion zone overall thanks to his earlier 1’41.635 time.
The call for slicks came at the halfway stage as Nepa headed the session on 1’43.555 pace, Guevara slotting into second as he bounced back from his morning fall before Rivacold’s Andrea Migno and CFMoto’s Carlos Tatay bettered the pair under the 1’42 barrier.
Sergio Garcia returned to the track on slick Dunlop tyres and immediately set the benchmark with a 1’39.793, just 0.02 shy of the overall target before he bettered, in quick succession, to head the standings with a 1’39.051 two laps later. CIP Green Power’s home talent Joel Kelso sat second with ten minutes to go from Suzuki, Moreira and Sasaki with Leopard’s Dennis Foggia rounding out the top six as the first rider yet to improve. McPhee holding the gateway to promotion with a 1’40.6 before the shuffles began in earnest.
Garcia maintained his hold on the session with the first 1’38 of the weekend before the Leopards arrived to first and third, Suzuki setting a 1’38.520 with three minutes left on the clock as Ogden claimed seventh.
The rapid fire continued as the session counted down with Suzuki once again rising to the top from countryman Sasaki before Moreira challenged. Suzuki unfazed as he arrived with a 1’37.986 as the chequered flag prepared with Guevara up to fourth in the dying seconds but it was Sasaki who stole the show with a final effort. McPhee and Ogden both secured their places in the provisional Q2 battle with 11th and 13th respectively while Kelso and teammate Kaito Toba rounded out the promotion zone.