More of the same sandy and windy treatment for the premier class on their last opportunity to confirm their race preparedness. Danilo Petrucci did exactly that and reinforced his position as a contender for the win in Qatar by shooting to the top of the timing tower as soon as the session started. The Pramac rider looked certain to keep the lead until his factory colleague Andrea Dovizioso fired in a low 1:55 on used tyres to steal the spotlight on a medium front and a soft rear tyre.
It was an all Italian top three with Valentino Rossi adding a Yamaha to the mix, a tenth of a second down to the leader but slightly slower in his long run when compared to his leading compatriots, both Ducati men with stunning pace. Alex Rins also dragged his Suzuki to a consistent set of 1:55s and a fourth position in the session, a mere five hundredths of a second ahead of the reigning world champion. Marc Marquez was predictably forced into running the hard front tyre and ran slightly more inconsistently into the mid to high 1:55s.
Maverick Viñales appeared to be nowhere throughout the weekend but seemed to find his way in the darkness of Losail, the Spaniard running most laps in the session and putting together a more consistent run than his higher-placed teammate. Andrea Iannone confirmed Suzuki’s strength with a seventh position, followed by Jorge Lorenzo. The Ducati rider once again started a session with a technical problem but after crawling back to the pits, the Spaniard recovered and joined the top riders in eighth position. Cal Crutchlow posted an identical time to Lorenzo to finish ninth and show just how close the podium battle appears to be, the top nine riders covered by only four tenths of a second, even more so behind the two dominating Italians at the front.
Dani Pedrosa completed the top ten – uncharacteristically on the hard front tyre – a further two tenths down, the same gap separating him from Johann Zarco. The Frenchman didn’t really get a chance to show us what he’s got after crashing early on in turn 16.