A cloudy breezy 16 degrees didn’t exactly invite to some tyre testing on the resurfaced German track, so most riders played it safe with a softer tyre combination in the chilly morning, although a few brave souls decided to get the compulsory laps on the harder rear tyre out of the way early on. With ten extra minutes added to the session to see how Michelin gets along with the surface, the riders could sneak in an extra run to make sure any future rain won’t mess up their Q2 chances.
The King of the Ring, Marc Marquez, was the first to make his mark at the top of the timesheets, the world champion getting within two seconds of his own fastest lap around the circuit on only his fourth lap of the session. The competition was left with a second to catch up to, while the Repsol Honda man was still circulating within a few tenths of his own best time.
The Spanish rider then found himself out of sync with his rivals, trying on the hard rear tyre in the final minutes of the session, just as most of his rivals - with the notable exception of Aleix Espargaro - were going for a shootout on the soft rear. While Marquez was still posting competitive times, the world champion dropped to sixth place once the fast times started popping up.
Maverick Viñales was the first to steal the lead from his Honda rival but it was, once again, Andrea Dovizioso who did one better and snatched the lead on his penultimate lap by only three hundredths of a second. Viñales had to settle for second, while Dani Pedrosa came into his element on the soft rear tyre to make a late jump from outside the top ten into the top three.
Aleix Espargaro showed that the Aprilia is well suited for the tight German circuit, with or without the aerodynamic fairing the Spaniard tried on, and a fourth place only two tenths down on the leader goes to prove that. Alvaro Bautista kept close, the Spaniard in fifth place despite a late crash into fast turn 11.
With Marquez sixth, Johann Zarco and Danilo Petrucci were the last men into the 1:21s, the top ten completed by Jack Miller and another late crasher – Scott Redding offering another impressive slow-motion for the highlights reel.
Home ground wasn’t particularly lucky for Jonas Folger, the Tech 3 rider only just missing out on the top ten, as did Jorge Lorenzo and Cal Cruthlow behind him.
Assen guru Valentino Rossi looked like one of the favourites to challenge for top honours early in the session, before the Italian’s bike detected an issue and gave up as he was heading out for his second run. After plenty of photo opportunities for fans trackside, he accepted a ride back to the pits and could not do better than sixteenth on his second bike, almost a second down on the leader.