Binder tops first practice for Malaysian MotoGP

SEPANG: South Africa’s Brad Binder clocked the fastest time in first practice for the Malaysian Grand Prix in Sepang on Friday, as MotoGP championship leader Francesco Bagnaia came 11th.

Bagnaia’s main championship rival and title-holder Fabio Quartararo slipped to seventh on his Yamaha despite leading most of the session on a clear morning at the Sepang circuit.

Binder topped the timesheets for Red Bull KTM with a lap of one minute and 59.479 seconds.

Alex Rins, last weekend’s winner in Australia, was 0.097 seconds off Binder on his Suzuki in second. Six-time world champion Marc Marquez was third ahead of Enea Bastianini.

It turned out to be a session to forget for another title contender, Aleix Espargaro, who first slipped off the kerb on his Aprilia machine before enduring technical problems with his second bike to end up 20th.

Italy’s Bagnaia clocked two minutes and 0.770 seconds to finish just outside the top 10.

The Ducati rider holds a 14-point lead coming into this penultimate race of the season and could clinch his maiden championship crown if he wins in Sepang and France’s Quartararo finishes outside the podium.

The afternoon session is likely to provide a sterner test for the riders because rain is expected in Kuala Lumpur.


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