In a more familiar sight, the night had truly set in by the time the premier class hit the playground one last time on Friday. Marc Marquez did his best to follow his brother’s example and take over the timesheets as soon as the green flag waved, bettering the afternoon’s fastest time by three tenths of a second. Times settled for the middle part of the session as teams were keen to work on pace in ambient conditions similar to race time. Andrea Dovizioso was the only rider making inroads into his main rival’s time and doing so on used tyres, until the final ten minutes saw some fresh rubber hit the track.
Alex Rins attacked Marquez’s position with the first 1:54 of the day while most contenders were still changing shoes and preparing for the battle for a top ten benchmark. The fight heated up in the final five minutes, Danilo Petrucci the first man to make his mark and put nearly half a second into the competition, only to be robbed by Dovizioso one lap later. Ducati’s lead Italian kept his name at the top of the timesheets as the checkered flag waved, with Petrucci a mere six thousandths of a second behind and Rins breaking the Ducati hegemony another tenth down.
Jorge Lorenzo started his evening by making very photogenic but ultimately worrying sparks on his Ducati before the Spaniard recovered to a top four position, four tenths behind his teammate. The tussle for the remaining top ten positions was an incredibly tight affair, Andrea Iannone adding another Suzuki to the top five, with the Hondas of Marquez, Dani Pedrosa and Cal Crutchlow each separated by one tiny thousandth of a second. The same gap kept the top Yamaha of Valentino Rossi behind them in ninth position, less than half a second down from the leader.
Johann Zarco seemed to struggle to put together a fast lap until the very end of the session, when he put on his favoured soft tyres and salvaged a top ten position with a direct Q2 ticket in mind. No such luck for Maverick Viñales, whose factory Yamaha wasn’t even close to challenging, three tenths down on Zarco and over eight tenths slower than Dovizioso.