While the worst the lightweight class had to contend with was a cold track and touch of drizzle, the promised rain was finally unleashed almost poetically as the premier class looked to hit the track. In typical Phillip Island fashion, things were further complicated by the rain seriously affecting specific parts of the track and completely ignoring others.
Rain tyres were the order of the day while the weather kept changing its mind between drizzle and dry patches for the first few minutes of the session but then the setting was firmly turned up to downpour with thirty-five minutes remaining.
Johann Zarco placed himself at the top of the pile in the mixed conditions before the weather worsened but the Frenchman was the first to be caught out by pushing a bit too much too soon. While most riders were still adjusting their wet weather settings, Jorge Lorenzo was showing off his talents and taking over the lead of the session. Fellow Q1 customer Danilo Petrucci soon joined him at the top, in the 1:39 club.
After some tentative initial laps, the world champion rejoined the party halfway through the session, the weather so bad in some sections that the camera made it hard to distinguish between blurry orange bikes. Nonetheless, Marquez found his feet as fast as you’d expect, the Spaniard moving to the top of the timesheets by over eight tenths of a second with twenty minutes to go.
Title rival Dovizioso finally added his name to the usual wet-weather podium configuration in the final fifteen minutes, the Italian joining Marquez and Petrucci at the front. They trio was eventually separated by Zarco sneaking ahead of the Ducati men and cutting the Honda’s advantage to four tenths.
The final five minutes saw another change in conditions, with patches of clear blue sky and some drying tarmac, offering a look at a potential flag-to-flag race and a last chance at a rapid lap time. Lorenzo could not benefit from the improved conditions after suffering a fast crash on the kerb in turn eight and having to get his left ankle checked out for a sprain. Only moments after, Marquez joined the crash list at turn six but the world championship leader maintained his position at the top of the standings - a familiar story indeed.
Zarco finished second despite his early crash, with Pol Espargaro profiting from the last lap mad dash to snatch third for KTM, half a second behind the leader. Karel Abraham was also in the right place at the right time and went fourth fastest, two tenths ahead of Petrucci, who was the final man within a second of Marquez. The other Repsol Honda was sixth, a more encouraging result in the wet and cold conditions for Dani Padrosa, with another Honda slotting into seventh spot through Cal Crutchlow.
Dovizoso failed to improve in the final part of the session and dropped back to eighth position, with Hector Barbera and Jack Miller completing the top ten. Lorenzo got pushed back to eleventh place after the late improvers posted their times but the Spaniard kept ahead of the Yamaha duo of Valentino Rossi and Maverick Viñales, the two teammates outpaced by the lead Honda by a second and a half.
Aleix Espargaro didn't completely lose his way, like the bottom of the timesheets woud suggest, the Spaniard suffering a transponder issue that meant some of his laps were not recorded properly.
In the tricky conditions, there were no opportunities to upset the Q2 distribution observed on Friday, with Rossi, Lorenzo and Petrucci as the main actors looking to fight it off in Q1.