BURIRAM: Jorge Martin blitzed the field in Friday's opening free practice for the Thailand MotoGP, with championship leader Francesco Bagnaia straggling in 10th spot.
In dry conditions at the Buriram International Circuit, the Spanish Pramac rider clocked a best lap time of one minute and 30.52 seconds ahead of his fellow countrymen Maverick Vinales and Pol Espargaro.
In the overall world standings, Italian Ducati ace Bagnaia is 27 points clear of Martin in second place in what is shaping up to be a two-horse race for the title.
Martin is keen to put a disastrous few weeks behind him after a nightmare performance crashing out in Indonesia to throw away his championship lead, as well as a bad final lap that cost him a win in Australia last weekend.
Up to 37 points are at stake this weekend, with four races of the 20-leg season to go.
Bagnaia – who is seeking to defend his title – finished third in Thailand in treacherous wet conditions last year, while Martin came home ninth.
Rain could again play a part, with a chance of thunderstorms on Saturday afternoon when the 13-lap sprint will take place, and again on Sunday for the 26-lap grand prix around the 4.554km Buriram International Circuit.--AFP