The skies opened generously just before the premier class’ second session of the day, which meant the start got delayed significantly. More importantly, it also meant that FP1 results proved crucial as FP2 was a washout and FP3 was predicted to follow suit. Even when the sky showed a few blue hints and the countdown for FP2 did eventually start, water was still intruding on the tarmac and no one looked tempted to sample the conditions.
A brave Alex Rins was the first to go out, surfing on the crest of the kerbs ten minutes into the session but without actually posting a timed lap. Johann Zarco did follow through and provided the only entertainment for quite a while, setting the benchmark for the session. Scott Redding, Hafizh Syahrin and perhaps surprisingly Valentino Rossi also joined the action on rain tyres to get a bit of practice in the conditions.
After some encouraging laps indicating better grip than last year in the wet and with the prospect of a wet qualifying session, the track saw some more action in the final 20 minutes as slowly the top players started to get their feet wet. The Repsol Hondas were the last to blink but eventually all the protagonists were out to play.
Meanwhile, Redding had gotten into a rhythm and distanced himself at the top by two seconds but Marc Marquez quickly set things straight to fire himself into the lead on only his fourth lap. He worked that gap to half a second, ahead of Redding and Danilo Petrucci – the only two men within a second of the world champion.
Jorge Lorenzo was best of the rest in fourth, a second and a half down on Marquez and with Andrea Dovizioso following closely behind in fifth. Bradley Smith and Alex Rins occupied sixth and seventh and completed the line-up of riders within two seconds of Marquez. Jack Miller, Cal Crutchlow and Rossi rounded out the top ten over two seconds back on the leader, with Andrea Iannone close behind and with Xavier Simeon making a surprise appearance in 12th position.
Despite being the one of the brave few to test the track early on, Zarco dropped down to 15th but significantly ahead of fellow Yamaha of Maverick Viñales, who finished 20th, over four second slower than Marquez. Repsol Honda bookended the timesheets as Dani Pedrosa finished last but the Spaniard was the last to join the action and only circulated for a couple of laps.