Eighth position on combined Friday times for Miller in Malaysia.
A 1m58.576s in MotoGP FP2 saw Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) smash his FP1 lap record as the Frenchman sits 0.534s clear on day one at the Shell Malaysian Motorcycle Grand Prix.
His nearest challenge remains teammate Franco Morbidelli with Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) sitting P3, but the Italian is 0.630s off Quartararo’s blistering pace.
Friday saw the premier class get two valuable fully dry sessions under their belt ahead of a weekend forecast of wet weather, so, as is often the case, FP2 was vital in terms of a provisional automatic Q2 place.
LCR Honda Idemitsu’s Johann Zarco was an early improver in the afternoon though, the Frenchman moved himself up to P12, while fellow Honda man Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) – after a bike issue in FP1 – placed himself at the top of the FP2 timing screens.
20 minutes passed by as we saw no movement in the top 10 on the combined standings, but FP2 was hotly contested – 0.1s splitting the top six with 15 minutes to go. After finishing third in the opening session, Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Maverick Vinales then set the first sub-two-minute time with 10 minutes remaining.
However, changes to the combined times were forthcoming and it was the Petronas duo who started sending the timing screens red. First, Morbidelli went fastest in FP2 but couldn’t quite beat his time from FP1. It was a different story on the number 20 machine though as a Rookie of the Year was flying.
An unbelievable lap was about to be posted by Quartararo as the 20-year-old went half a second under his own lap record to set Sepang alight. It was an astonishing lap from the Frenchman who had moved the goalposts well out of reach.
Meanwhile, two Italians were improving. Dovizioso and Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) both set personal best times on their final flying laps to claim third and fifth respectively at the end of day one, with Vinales’ FP1 time seeing him claim P4 ahead of his teammate – all four YZR-M1s sitting inside the top five.
Marquez didn’t head out on fresh soft Michelin rubber at the end of the session and didn’t improve on his morning time as the number 93 nestles himself into sixth. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar), another rider who set his fastest time in FP1, is just 0.029s off Marquez in seventh.
Closing out what could be a pivotal top 10 was Jack Miller (Pramac Racing), Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol). The British rider had been displaced by Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) in the dying seconds, before improving on his final lap to leapfrog back past the Italian rookie.
Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Jorge Martin continued his fine form by ending the opening day of Moto2 action fastest. He ended two tenths clear of FP1’s fastest man Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) and world championship leader Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS). Nagashima’s teammate Remy Gardner was 13th today.
Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia) took Moto3 Friday honours in Malaysia thanks to a late 2m12.466s in FP2. The Japanese rider heads compatriot Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse), with CIP Green Power’s Darryn Binder rounding out a top three split by 0.258s.