A sunny breezy morning welcomed the premier class to its first practice session on home ground. Birthday boy Jorge Lorenzo was an early leader but Marc Marquez stole his thunder after only ten minutes in the limelight by going a second fastest than the competition, throwing in a classic save in turn one for good measure. Cal Crutchlow quickly cut the gap in half and then went on to equal the world champion’s benchmark in the final 15 minutes. Their joint reign came to an end when Valentino Rossi fired into the lead by six hundredths of a second but that achievement was also short lived as Pol Espargaro chased the Italian straight into the lead. But eventually, none of those riders got to keep the metaphorical trophy as Andrea Dovizioso snuck into the lead in the final few minutes by seven thousandths of a second.
Marquez settled for second as he failed to improve on his final couple of laps on a used soft rear tire. The younger Espargaro managed to keep third position, with Danilo Petrucci showing some late improvements to jump straight into the top four.
Jack Miller was another late surprise in fifth position, pushing Rossi down to sixth, although only two tenths down on his leading compatriot. Johann Zarco will have been encouraged by his future teammate’s exploits at the front while he himself settled for seventh after a low key morning. Crutchlow could not improve on the time he set early on and dropped back to eighth, while in the final time attack on fresh tires, Maverick Viñales did make a significant jump into the top nine.
The final man to make the top ten was Scott Redding, while teammate Aleix Espargaro took to the spotlight early in the session before dropping back to 13th. In between the two Aprilia riders, Andrea Iannone made another good start to his race weekend in 11th and familiar KTM wildcard Mika Kallio placed his early taster of the 2019 bike into a comfy twelfth position.
Meanwhile, two surprising names outside the top ten were Dani Pedrosa and Lorenzo, both big fans of the Spanish track. Pedrosa finished 14th but looked to be struggling with setup rather than injury, while Lorenzo lost his early lead and ended up 15th, seven tenths down on his championship-leading teammate.