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2017 Jerez World Superbike FP1 Results: Rea Leads Lowes, Melandri, Laverty

Jonarthan Rea put in a late fast lap to take the morning's top spot with Alex Lowes, Marco Melandri and Eugene Laverty six tenths of a second behind him. Sylvain Guintoli, riding Krummenacher's Kawasaki for the weekend, was thirteenth quickest.

Results:

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2017 Phillip Island Moto2 FP2 Result: Nakagami Tops Crash-Strewn Session

Takaaki Nakagami carried his momentum from this morning into FP2, topping a strange and crash-filled second session of free practice for the Moto2 class. Nakagami pressed home his advantage, topping the timesheets by seven tenths of a second this afternoon, a similar gap to this morning.

Dominique Aegerter ended the day in second, a couple of tenths quicker than Pecco Bagnaia and Alex Marquez. Championship leader Franco Morbidelli posted the seventh quickest time, a second off the pace of Nakagami, while his main rival Tom Luthi was eleventh, 1.3 seconds off Nakagami's pace.

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2017 Phillip Island MotoGP FP2 Result: Aleix Makes Aprilia Shine

Keep the sun, add some clouds and subtract some wind and there’s your recipe for FP2 in the premier class. That left suitable conditions to set up a battle for a direct Q2 ticket, with the concerning forecast for Saturday in mind. That being said, most of the session was reserved for work on tyre endurance, particularly on the soft rear, with a few exceptions like Pedrosa and Rossi on the medium.

Aleix Espargaro hit some good form after a pretty average FP1 and moved to the top of the pile after a handful of laps. The Aprilia looked like a temporary occupant of the top of the standings until the mad dash for a Q2-worthy lap would begin in the final ten minutes but that theory proved wrong as few improvements were to be found in the closing stages of the afternoon.

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2017 Phillip Island Moto3 FP2 Result: Mir Reclaims Control

Marginally warmer and with some extra layers of rubber on the circuit, the lightweight class did not need a lot of time to drop their times significantly under their FP1 benchmarks all throughout the field. In the improved conditions, one-lap king Jorge Martin stole the show early in the session and left the world championship leader to do all the work to catch up. And so he did, Joan Mir taking over the lead past the halfway mark of FP2.

Even without the late rapid lap nearly nudging the 1:36s and bagging him the session, Mir’s strong pace would be a good enough reason to worry his rivals. Aron Canet kept away from drama this time around and a late lap saw him cut Mir’s advantage in half - to little over two tenths of a second. That caused Bendsneyder to drop to third position in the session, half a seconds down.

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2017 Phillip Island Moto2 FP1 Result: Nakagami Puts His Foot Down

The illusion of warmth continued for the intermediate class, the rays of sun reflecting in polished fairings not conveying the low temperatures and windy conditions. Nevertheless, the weekend started much like we would all like to see it continuing, with a minor gap between the two title contenders at the top of the timesheets.  

Takaaki Nakagami put himself into contention past the halfway mark of the session, the Japanese rider taking over the lead by two tenths of a second. Morbidelli was first to react but Nakagami went ahead and improved on his time a few more times to turn that gap into a chasm, seven tenths of a second separating him from the pretenders in the closing stages of FP1.

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2017 Phillip Island MotoGP FP1 Result: A Marquez Kind Of Morning

Remember that shiny ball called sun? It finally showed up to the party in Australia, although accompanied by a chilly breeze. The premier class riders could hardly complain after the adventures of little under a week ago so they got working right away.

Marc Marquez only required a handful of laps to get into the 1:29s, running the consistent pace he got us used to and only allowing five other riders to get within a second of his early time after the first runs. 

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2017 Phillip Island Moto3 FP1 Result: Bulega Braves The Wind

After the downpour of Motegi, the weather in Australia decided to help the riders acclimatise with some more drops of rain in the days leading up to practice. The rainfall stopped just in time for FP1 but the session started with damp patches still scattered on the circuit. The situation was quite quickly resolved by the strong winds, which were also somewhat unhelpful for the lightweight class.

Joan Mir would not let history repeat itself after the strange performance in Japan, the world championship leader featuring heavily at the top of the standings right out the box this time around. The Spaniard led for most of the session, until Nicolo Bulega eyed up a slipstream in the last handful of minutes and dragged Ayumu Sasaki with him over the line. The Italian didn’t get another chance to further improve his performance after an eager move into turn four slid him out of contention and took Aron Canet with him. Mir only just avoided the incident but could not improve himself so Bulega kept top honours at the flag.

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2017 Phillip Island MotoGP Preview: Showdown At The Island

There are many fine racing circuits on the MotoGP calendar, but two of them are genuinely glorious. The reasons Mugello and Phillip Island are so glorious are pretty much the same. First, the setting: Mugello sits amidst the stunning hills, woods, and farmland of Tuscany, while Phillip Island is perched atop a granite cliff overlooking the wild and windy Bass Strait. They are both tests of courage and skill, fast, flowing tracks which require a deep understanding of what the motorcycle is doing, the bravery to let it do what it's doing at that speed, and the reflexes and talent to manage the bike within the confines of its performance envelope.

Like Mugello, Phillip Island flows across the terrain, following the natural slopes, dips, and hollows of the rock it is built on. The speed and the location provide a spectacular backdrop for motorcycle racing, and a terrifying challenge for the riders. That speed also makes them dangerous, though the two tracks are dangerous in different ways. At Mugello, the walls are a little too close in places, meaning that a crash can leave you to slam into an airfence. At Phillip Island, the problem is not so much the walls, as the sheer speed at which you crash. There are only really two slow corners at Phillip Island, meaning that if you fall off, your momentum is going to carry you a long way.

Two things make Phillip Island unique. First, there's the weather. With only Tasmania between the Island and the Antarctic, and the vast Southern Ocean beyond, the westerlies batter and blast the Island, bringing harsh squalls in one moment then carrying them away the next. Four seasons in one day, the locals say, and if you don't like the weather, just wait five minutes. The one constant in October is the cold, however. Though the sun be out, the icy Antarctic wind can suck the heat out of tires, brakes, and bodies. The weather there is a treacherous thing.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - “You release the brakes and believe”

Dovizioso and Márquez could hardly see where they were going at Motegi, yet their duel was reminiscent of one of the greatest of all time

It's been a generation since I have been so overawed about a motorcycle race: since Sunday May 26, 1991, to be precise. That’s the last time I recall witnessing such a heart-in-the-mouth finish to a premier-class Grand Prix that held a world championship in its hands: big speed, big risk, big heartbeat.

Of course, there have been numerous classic encounters over the years. We could argue about them forever.

But there was something different about Sunday’s race, something that reminded me of Hockenheim 1991, when Kevin Schwantz and Wayne Rainey were fighting for the 500cc world title at one of the fastest, scariest circuits of them all. Motegi isn’t particularly fast or frightening, but it’s terrifying in a torrential downpour, when riders can hardly see where they’re going, blinded by spray from the rain and by steam from the engine. Unless you’ve been there, it’s pretty much impossible to imagine what it’s like to be hauling along at 185 miles an hour, peering through the murk for your braking marker, then slithering the front tyre all the way into the corner.

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