Motorcycling: Espargaro edges Marquez in Phillip Island practice

Spain’s MotoGP rider Pol Espargaro steers his KTM during the first practice session for the Australian Motorcycle Grand Prix at Phillip Island near Melbourne, Australia, Friday, Oct. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Andy Brownbill)
Updated 20 October 2017

Motorcycling: Espargaro edges Marquez in Phillip Island practice

PHILLIP ISLAND, Australia: Aleix Espargaro pipped world championship leader Marc Marquez to set the fastest time in Friday’s practice ahead of this weekend’s Australian MotoGP at Phillip Island.
The Spanish Aprilia rider posted a quickest lap of one minute 29.225 seconds in second free practice on a dry track ahead of Sunday’s race.
Espargaro’s time, set on the fifth lap of his afternoon session, prevailed by just 0.005secs over Marquez, who almost bettered the time on his penultimate lap.
Marquez, who leads the world championship by 11 points with three races left, clocked 1:29.230 following his chart-topping 1:29.602 in the morning session.
Championship challenger Andrea Dovizioso was third quickest overall, finishing just 0.097secs behind Espargaro.
Ducati’s Dovizioso downed Marquez on the final lap to win last weekend’s rain-soaked Japanese GP and is second in the world championship.
Briton Cal Crutchlow, the winner of last year’s Australian race, was fourth fastest on a Honda, only 0.104secs down on the leader’s time.
Spain’s Maverick Vinales was fifth fastest despite coming off his Yamaha early in afternoon practice.
Australian Jack Miller, in his first MotoGP event back since breaking a leg during training, was sixth ahead of Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone.
Six-time premier class Phillip Island winner, Valentino Rossi, trailed in 12th place overall on his Yamaha, some 0.752secs behind Espargaro’s time.
The weather on the opening day was sunny, but the forecast for Saturday is for cooler temperatures and possible showers.

What next for Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’

Updated 03 June 2020

What next for Premier League’s ‘Project Restart’

  • Restart to begin with 2 matches on June 17, to ensure every side played same number of games

LONDON: The Premier League's return is just two weeks away but there are plenty of details for the 20 clubs in the English top-flight to work out before competitive action resumes on June 17.

AFP Sport looks at what is on the agenda at the latest in a series of meetings between the clubs on Thursday.

There have been squabbles over how final league standings should be decided if the season cannot be completed but clubs need a contingency arrangement if a spike in coronavirus cases wrecks their plans.

Most of the teams in the bottom half of the table are reportedly pushing for relegation to be scrapped if the season is not completed on the field.

That still seems highly unlikely, with the English Football Association and English Football League both insisting on promotion and relegation throughout the pyramid.

A points-per-game formula is the most likely option and is part of the reason why the restart will begin with two matches on June 17, to ensure every side has played the same number of games.

Once the two outstanding games — Manchester City vs. Arsenal and Aston Villa vs. Sheffield United — have been played, all 20 sides will have nine games remaining.

No dates for other matches have yet been released, but fixtures are expected to continue from where they left off in March and be crammed into just five weeks ahead of the FA Cup final on August 1.

A long layoff, little time together in contact training and a gruelling schedule mean players' bodies will be pushed to the limits.

In an attempt to minimize injuries and fatigue, world governing body FIFA has allowed leagues to temporarily change their rules to allow five substitutes.

Chelsea have also reportedly proposed increasing the number of substitutes available from seven to nine.

However, critics have suggested those changes will simply play into the hands of the bigger clubs with deeper squads.

Premier League clubs appear to have won their battle to have games played in their own grounds rather than on neutral sites.

However, the UK's national lead for football policing confirmed last week that a "small number" of fixtures will take place at neutral venues.

That is likely to include any match that could see Liverpool crowned champions for the first time in 30 years, to try and avoid crowds gathering at Anfield.

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is unconcerned by playing at neutral venues, with results from four rounds of Germany's Bundesliga showing no advantage for home sides in a closed-doors environment.

"We will not have the help from the crowd but no team will have that, so where is the advantage?" Klopp told the BBC.

"Whoever we play it is the same situation, which is why I'm not too worried about it."

The use of VAR could also be dispensed with for the rest of the season should the clubs wish to further cut the number of people required for games to go ahead.

However, the Premier League's CEO Richard Masters is keen for it to remain.

"VAR has its own social-distancing issues, but we think there is a way of completing the season with VAR," Masters told Sky Sports.