With 19 degrees and an overcast sky, the MotoGP class was in a hurry to sneak in a run on a dry track at the beginning of FP1. The rain kept away but fear of unpredictable weather for the remainder of the weekend forced a mini-qualifying run in the final few minutes of the session, the riders trying to ensure an early Q2 spot.
Marc Marquez was the last man to leave the garage with rain forecast in the near future, the Brno victor going straight to the top of the timesheets and improving even further the next lap, to go over half a second faster than his challengers.
Meanwhile, the Ducatis were deep in aero country in FP1, all factory bikes equipped with versions of the new fairing. Andrea Dovizioso took the simplest configuration and put it into the lead in the final 15 minutes of the session. The Italian joined Marquez as the only riders to drop into the 1:24s but the club got a few more members by the end of the session.
Hector Barbera was the big winner of the morning, the Avintia rider making the most of brand new tyres to steal the thunder away from his factory colleague and grab top spot by the time the checkered flag came out.
Dovizioso was close to depose him but he was a little bit too enthusiastic with his interpretation of track limits and had to settle for second after his final time was cancelled. Dani Pedrosa made a late lunge into third place and only a tenth down on the leaders.
Maverick Viñales’ Yamaha also seemed to be on friendly terms with the Ring, the Spaniard consistently towards the top of the timesheets and finishing only eight thousandths of a second behind his smallest compatriot.
Without posting a fast lap in the final run, Marquez dropped to fifth place, two and a half tenths down on Barbera. Johann Zarco started the session sightseeing the gravel trap in turn four and ended it in sixth position, closely followed by Danilo Petrucci’s enhanced fairing configuration.
Rumoured future Aprilia man Scott Redding got as close as eight thousandths of a second of joining the 1:24 club, the British rider finishing eighth, ahead of Jorge Lorenzo and Cal Crutchlow.
In case the deluge affects the rest of the practice sessions, the likes of Pol Espargaro, Valentino Rossi and Jonas Folger will be stuck with the task of fighting their way through Q1.