After a challenging start to the year for us all, the MotoGP extravaganza is finally back to offer some welcome distraction from reality. With that responsibility on their shoulders, riders really put in the effort to keep us entertained, with five manufacturers in the top ten and one second covering the top 20 in the first practice session of the season for the premier class.
If there were any questions about the world champion’s recovery from the second shoulder surgery in consecutive years, he answered those questions quick enough, opening the final time attack by going half a second faster than the opposition. The gap didn’t last to the checkered flag but the hierarchy did, Marc Marquez topping FP1 by a minor two hundredths of a second. As expected, Maverick Vinales gave him the closest fight, the Spaniard coming very close to top spot, while Cal Crutchlow in third position was also within a tenth of a second of the lead.
After Jack Miller featured as the top Ducati for much of FP1, a convalescent Andrea Dovizioso took up the mantle and joined the top four, little over one tenth off Marquez. Joan Mir added a Suzuki to the mix in fifth spot, with Miller sneaking in between the Spaniard and teammate Alex Rins. The rest of the top ten was taken over by KTM, with Pol Espargaro showing the way to fantastic rookies Iker Lecuona and Brad Binder.
A few familiar faces missed out on the top ten in the first practice session of the season, including Valentino Rossi in 13th place, Fabio Quartararo in 17th and Danilo Petrucci in 21st. The Frenchman’s position can be explained by him missing out on the first 20 minutes of FP1 due to a penalty for being naughty in training, followed by several cancelled laptimes, while Petrucci seems to be struggling after suffering a testing crash on Wednesday.