Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso ended the opening day of MotoGP free practice in top spot with the entire field bar Hafizs Syahrin covered by one second on the combined sheets.
In a seven-minute time attack at the end of the second practice, Dovizioso scraped Valentino Rossi’s 2015 lap record, setting a 1’39.181 using a medium/soft combination which was enough to keep Pramac Ducati’s Jack Miller in second.
The Australian bounced back from an early crash to get to 0.009s behind Dovizioso with Maverick Vinales swapping to a hard front tyre which transformed his Movistar Yamaha into a bike fast enough for third and 0.155s off the pace.
Britain’s Cal Crutchlow led the way with five minutes left to run with a hard front/soft rear Michelin combo on his LCR Honda but slipped back to fourth but is less than two-tenths behind the leading Ducati.
Rookie Fabio Quartararo found pace with a soft rear to put himself in fifth place with a 1’39.357 and ahead of Yamaha stablemate Valentino Rossi. The Doctor finished in sixth and just over a quarter of a second in arrears, using softs all round.
Ecstar Suzuki’s Alex Rins squeezed a 1’39.451 to put himself in front of reigning champion Marc Marquez but the Repsol Honda man did not change to a new rear for the time attack, so his 1’39.497 set on his third lap of 19 was enough for eighth.
Petronas Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli ended his day in ninth with Taka Nakagami in tenth. Andrea Iannone just beat Aprilia team-mate Aleix Espargaro to 11th place with Danilo Petrucci in 13th.
Pecco Bagnaia put his Pramac Ducati in 14th place but only six-tenths off the pace with fellow rookie Joan Mir in 15th. Pol Espargaro was the leading KTM in 16th, Johann Zarco was 17th and Karel Abraham in 18th.
Miguel Oliviera headed Tito Rabat for 19th place while Jorge Lorenzo struggled down in 21st. The former champion is just 0.978s off the pace on his Repsol Honda.