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Espargaro leads into Aus MotoGP qualifying

Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s Aleix Espargaro is the quickest rider into Australian MotoGP qualifying after Phillip Island’s notoriously volatile weather struck on Saturday.

Espargaro clocked the fastest time in Friday’s two practice sessions in sunny conditions, but rain lashed the circuit during the third practice session with no rider able to improve on Friday’s times.

Championship leader Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) is next in the standings, with top local hope Jack Miller sixth quickest into qualifying on his Marc VDS Honda.

Marquez’s main rival for the 2017 world title, Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso, was third quickest.

The top 10 riders from the first three practice sessions advance to second qualifying on Saturday afternoon where they will fight it out for pole position.

The rest of the field go into first qualifying with the top two riders there advancing into second qualifying where the first 12 spots on the starting grid for Sunday’s race are decided.

Former world champions Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha) and Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) missed second qualifying when they finished 11th and 12th respectively.

Lorenzo was one of several riders to fall foul of the tricky conditions on Saturday, the Spaniard needing medical attention for a leg injury after coming off his Ducati at turn eight.

Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) and Marquez also slid off the circuit but were able to return to pit lane.

In Moto3, championship leader Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) was quickest into qualifying, while Australian wildcard Tom Toparis (Cube Racing) recorded the slowest time.

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