The illusion of warmth continued for the intermediate class, the rays of sunshine reflecting in polished fairings not conveying the low temperatures and windy conditions. Nevertheless, the weekend started much like we would all like to see it continuing, with a minor gap between the two title contenders at the top of the timesheets.
Tom Luthi picked up the lead after a handful of laps, with title rival Franco Morbidelli bringing the gap down to only two hundredths of a second. He Italian mixed it up with a touch of mid-session off-tracking but it did not slow him down in the slightest.
Takaaki Nakagami put himself into contention past the halfway mark of the session, the Japanese rider taking over the lead by two tenths of a second. Morbidelli was first to react but Nakagami went ahead and improved on his time a few more times to turn that gap into a chasm, seven tenths of a second separating him from the pretenders in the closing stages of FP1.
Mattia Pasini was best of the rest, the Italian making a late climb up the timesheets to become only the second rider of the morning to get into the 1:33s. Miguel Oliveira finished the session in third position, over eighth tenths behind the leader, with Morbidelli and Dominique Aegerter sharing identical times in fourth and fifth spots.
After his early speed, Luthi dropped back to sixth place, failing to improve on his first benchmark and closely followed by Simone Corsi in seventh position. Alex Marquez’s shortened wet weather victory in Motegi masked the effects of his injury but the Spaniard seemed to suffer a tiny bit more in Australia, finishing down in eighth place. To his credit, the Marc VDS man was not too far away from the rest of the usual suspects, less than two tenths separating him from his main rival in the battle for third in the standings.
Lorenzo Baldassarri and Fabio Quartararo completed the top ten, both riders over a second slower than the leader. Behind them, Pecco Bagnaia was still getting used to the Moto2 experience at the circuit, the Italian in thirteenth position.
|7||24||Simone CORSI||Speed Up||1'34.268||0.955||0.033|
|15||97||Xavi VIERGE||Tech 3||1'34.762||1.449||0.039|
|19||37||Augusto FERNANDEZ||Speed Up||1'35.170||1.857||0.023|
|24||87||Remy GARDNER||Tech 3||1'35.867||2.554||0.308|
|29||89||Khairul Idham PAWI||Kalex||1'37.023||3.710||0.826|