The British rider turns up the wick in the closing stages of Friday’s action as Ogura sits outside the provisional Q2 places
It was a dominant Friday afternoon for Inde GASGAS Aspar Team’s Jake Dixon as he ended the day 0.382s ahead of Fermin Aldeguer (Beta Tools Speed Up) at the Animoca Brands Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix. Alonso Lopez made it a Beta Tools Speed Up double in the top three but it wasn’t a good opening day for title-chasing Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) – the Japanese rider finished P17 and outside the provisional automatic Q2 places.
Dixon unstoppable, Ogura struggles
With the rain staying away in the afternoon, the Moto2™ field were able to get down to business straight away in FP2 and we saw some early changes at the summit. Lopez was the quickest rider in the early exchanges, his 1:34.324 saw the Spaniard climb to top spot by over two tenths from Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team), with FP1 table topper and World Championship leader Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) third despite improving his effort.
Fernandez’s title rival Ogura was outside the top 10 in P11 heading into the closing stages of Friday’s running, the Japanese rider had gone quicker in FP2 but sat seventh tenths shy of Lopez’s rapid lap time. The final 10 minutes then came and the times started to properly tumble; Lopez set a 1:34.276, before Dixon dipped into the 1:33s to go over three tenths clear.
Dixon then improved again to get down to a 1:33.767, and with four minutes to go, the number 96 was 0.509s quicker than anyone else. Aldeguer then cut that gap to 0.422s as Ogura was pushed outside the crucial top 14, and it would get worse for Ogura – he didn’t improve and eventually finished P17, with teammate Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) crashing at Turn 1. Thankfully, the Thai rider was back up on his feet but Chantra headed to the medical centre for a check-up.
Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) jumped up into P4 towards the end of the session to sit ahead of fifth place Lowes, with Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40) acting as another late improver for P6. After leading the way in the opening 40-minute stint, Fernandez heads into Saturday’s action in P7, with Filip Salač (Gresini Racing Moto2™), Chantra and Albert Arenas (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) – despite some issues with his machine – the other riders inside the top 10.
FP3 is a vital session for Ogura in his attempts to grab a top 14. Tune into Moto2™’s final Free Practice session at 10:55 local time (GMT+11) to see if the rider second in the title chase can improve.
Top 10 combined:
1. Jake Dixon (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) – 1:33.767
2. Fermín Aldeguer (Beta Tools Speed Up) + 0.382
3. Alonso Lopez (Beta Tools Speed Up) + 0.461
4. Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team) + 0.741
5. Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) + 0.777
6. Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40) + 0.836
7. Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) + 0.852
8. Filip Salac (Gresini Racing Moto2) + 0.876
9. Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) + 0.898
10. Albert Arenas (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) + 1.054