The uncertainty of FP4 was sorted by the time qualifying kicked off, the latest rain shower making it clear that it was going to be a wet session. Not one to lack confidence, Danilo Petrucci didn’t take long to fire in a lap one second faster than anyone else and, while the rest were playing catch-up, the Italian went on to improve further.
His main opponents seemed to be Marc Marquez and Valentino Rossi, which made it all the more surprising when the Flying Frenchman crossed the line after the checkered flag with six hundredths of a second in hand on the world champion.
No one was able to do better than Johann Zarco, who claimed an impressive but perhaps not entirely surprising pole position, setting himself up for another podium challenge. Marquez will be his closest challenger from second on the grid, with Petrucci adding a Ducati to the front row.
After Zarco’s heroics, Rossi had to settle for fourth place , in front of Q1 survivor Scott Redding, whose run down pitlane following a crash with four minutes to go earned him a fifth place on the grid. The second row will be completed by Jonas Folger, the other Tech 3 rider over a second and a half down on his teammate.
Alvaro Bautista opens row three, ahead of Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso – another of the unlikely fallers in the session. After qualifying from Q1 in rather dramatic fashion, Sam Lowes suffered an engine blow-up in the late part of Q2 and settled for tenth place on the grid.
At least he will have the bragging rights that come with being quicker than the championship leader, Maverick Viñales eleventh, and veteran Dani Pedrosa twelfth. Add Jorge Lorenzo still struggling in twenty-first position and the picture looks even better for Sam.