Friday morning in Mugello saw the splendid scenery covered by a sheet of low clouds, although the track kept dry for the duration of the session. The low grip took a few people by surprise and plenty of front tyres were tortured but the top of the timesheets were a very patriotic display. Local expert Michelle Pirro perhaps unsurprisingly led the way after the first run and the Italian was unchallenged at the top until compatriot Andrea Iannone brandished a new rear soft tyre and blasted ahead by half a second.
The Italian top three was completed by Andrea Dovizioso, seven tenths down on the leader and a more realistic two tenths behind his temporary teammate. Maverick Viñales crashed in turn one on his first lap of the day and the extra trip through the pits lost him some track time but the Spaniard still found his way into fourth position.
Iannone was not the only one to put himself in the shop window in Mugello, Jack Miller also boasting with speed in fifth place, posting the exact same time as the reigning world champion. Marc Marquez lingered in a subdued sixth position but less than a tenth of a second separated him from Dovizioso’s third spot.
The rest of the top ten – positions seven to ten – were also a close knit affair. Franco Morbidelli seemed to have made significant progress on home turf to join the top seven in the session, followed by mentor Valentino Rossi, possible future teammate Jorge Lorenzo and a recovering Cal Crutchlow, the four men nine tenths down on the leader but separated by a mere two hundredths of a second.
Johann Zarco was one full second off Iannone’s laptime, but only half a second slower if you consider Pirro’s more realistic indicator of pace. The Frenchman knocked on the doors of the top ten together with Alex Rins, Danilo Petrucci and the Espargaro brothers, Dani Pedrosa a few places lower down in 17th.