Slightly lower temperatures on Saturday morning meant a tricky start for the MotoGP class, with Cal Crutchlow and Danilo Petrucci tumbling in the gravel on their outlaps. It was a busy morning for Michelin as well, with riders putting on several different tyre combinations in search of the perfect race tyre.
In the cooler conditions, Aleix Espargaro only needed five laps to improve on Dovizioso’s best time from Friday, the Spaniard showing off Aprilia’s new engine on top of the timesheets for most of the session. But the last ten minutes were reserved, as usual, for a final try at top ten glory, which meant the end of Aleix’s reign.
Valentino Rossi was the first to mount a challenge but coming in two hundredths of a second short. The Italian veteran had another go after putting in a brand new rear for the final three minutes - this time the mission was successful, Rossi taking the lead by over three tenths of a second.
After not posting a fast lap on Friday, Marc Marquez was eager to ensure his top ten position and it briefly looked like he would top the timesheets. It wasn’t to be but the world champion secured second place, just ahead of the top Ducati – this time being Jorge Lorenzo’s turn to claim that honour, less than five hundredths of a second behind Marquez.
Alvaro Bautista showed good speed over one lap, the Spaniard grabbing fourth spot with a fast lap late into the session. Maverick Viñales also secured his Q2 presence, after an irritated nod directed at his teammate for getting in his way.
Sixth position went to an impressive Tito Rabat, who was also helped by a little tow from his pal Marc Marquez. Michelle Pirro is a more usual sight in Q2 on his wildcard outings so seventh place isn’t at all surprising. He led his teammate Andrea Dovizioso by a mere hundredth of a second.
Dani Pedrosa spent his morning outside of the top ten while working on race pace, firing in several red sectors to climb up the charts. He finished the session ninth and gesticulating at Karel Abraham, which might suggest he expected better.
Aleix Espargaro did not improve on his early time but it proved good enough to secure him the final Q2 ticket. Johann Zarco was the first under the line and will have to fight his way through Q1 with the likes of Crutchlow and Petrucci, who managed to crash both his bikes before the end of the session.