With the surface of the track bragging with dry stretches of asphalt, premier class riders were testing the mostly metaphorical waters on used rain tyres before fully attacking on slicks. Jack Miller needed no invitation to bravery and went straight to the top of the timesheets on his fresh slick rubber but rivals soon caught up and wanted their share of the limelight. Their wings were quickly clipped by Marc Marquez, who had spent a considerable amount of time in the garage before demolishing the benchmark set by Petrucci a few moments before.
Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto3 class in Valencia:
Rain evaded the intermediate class action but the drying surface meant that both red sectors and unlucky fallers were the order of the day. Remy Gardner in particular had a bit of both, the Tech 3 rider having a big highside while leading in the first 15 minutes of the session. Despite the misfortune, it took until well past the halfway mark of the session for anyone to threaten his lead. Iker Lecuona was the main threat all along and the threat became reality in the final third of the session, when the Spaniard picked up top spot.
Despite the more optimistic forecast, unfortunately familiar raindrops hit windscreens as soon as premier class riders left pitlane and it got progressively worse for the first couple of laps, until spray on the straight was more impressive than a bride’s veil. Warming up with a little save in wet conditions, Marc Marquez shot to the top of the timesheets and comfortably circulated there on medium rain tyres, while all his rivals seemed to favour the soft rear.
Sunshine was almost teasing to cut through the clouds ahead of the first session of the day and the lightweight class got action underway with the promise of a dry day. And the fastest men in pouring rain on Friday were still showing the same speed on the damp surface of Saturday morning. Raul Fernandez was fast out of the box and led the way for most of the session, with Marco Bezzecchi as the closest challenger throughout.
It seems fitting that a year which has seen some pretty wild weather – from the heatwave in Brno to the deluge at Silverstone – should end at Valencia amid thunderstorms and torrential rain. It was so heavy at one point that the FP1 session for MotoGP was red flagged for 30 minutes, as pools of water gathered in a few corners around the track.
Echoes of Silverstone? Not quite. The company which resurfaced Valencia ensured that water drains quickly. The amount of rain having fallen was unheard of at the Ricardo Tormo circuit, yet the surface was quickly usable again. Was there more rain here than at Silverstone, Jack Miller was asked? "Way, way, way more and we are still out there riding," he replied. "It is night and day compared to Silverstone as the track has really good grip in the wet for one and I felt I could almost get my elbow down in some places this morning. So the track has got really good grip and there are some puddles but they are quite close to the kerbs so you can avoid most of them. Much more rain here than Silverstone – I am no meteorologist but I think so."
Official FIM entry list for the 2019 MotoGP season, as of 16th November 2019:
Provisional entry list for Moto2 in 2019 as of 16th November 2018:
Provisional entry list for Moto3
No one had it easy today and the intermediate class did not escape the downpour, ending the day in some of the worst conditions yet. Iker Lecuona had no complaints as he retrieved the top position he ended FP1 in and it was Joe Roberts’ turn to do the chasing. The American did an excellent job of it and the duo carried on a faraway battle, Roberts claiming the lead for the mid part of the session and Lecuona snatching it back for the final ten minutes.
Umbrellas were back out in force for the start of the second MotoGP outing of the weekend and there was little time to find some speed before Johann Zarco had a big tumble at turn 12 and the river of debris he left in his wake required a red flag barely ten minutes into the session. In a copy-paste of earlier today, riders retreated to their garages and the safety car had some more slip and slide fun.
The second batch of practice sessions started off where FP1 left off, namely on a wet track with light drizzle and the same fast men at the front. Marco Bezzecchi swiftly set camp at the top of the timesheets and successfully defended a six hundredths of a second lead from Alonso Lopez. Things hotted up in the final quarter of an hour, when several riders went red on the timesheets but no one had the speed to match Lopez, who went almost a second faster than the morning benchmark.
The still firmly drenched tarmac had started to allow some more speed toward the end of the premier class session but sparse drops of rain threatened the start of the already delayed Moto2 outing once again. Joe Roberts found his way to the top of the timesheets before the downpour threatened to stop play once again. The action continued with on and off rain and Iker Lecuona got his time in the limelight for the final ten minutes, when he set a sequence of red hot laps to chase down Roberts.
The rain showed no intention of going away as the premier class attacked the tricky conditions and it prompted a red flag not even ten minutes into the session. Marc Marquez was just getting into his element and put his name at the top of the standings for the sizeable pause in proceedings, while the likes of Alex Rins, Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi had some rodeo moments for the highlights reel.