Still cool, still windy and with an added dash of dark cloud cover – that was the welcome the premier class got for their second outing of the day. Riders gave their best to beat the rain and book a provisional place into Q2 while still putting in long runs to gather sufficient data for the race. The weather proved kind and allowed Andrea Dovizioso and Marc Marquez to resume their remote duel for top honours. Their first battle ended in a stalemate for second best once Valentino Rossi slowly nipped at the benchmark and set himself at the top of the timesheets in the final ten minutes.
The final battle resumed with five minutes left on the clock, when plenty of fresh soft rubber was unwrapped from the covers. Dovizioso was the first to strike and seriously bite into the 2:01s on used tyres while a flurry of cancelled laptimes invaded the timesheets. The Italian kept top spot from local favourite Cal Crutchlow by a mere five thousandths of a second and with Maverick Viñales within six hundredths of the leader as well. The Yamaha man could not replicate his FP1 achievement but he did show good rhythm in an early race run on a used medium front-soft rear combination.
Marquez ended the day fourth, one tenth down on Dovizioso and with another little adventure in turn 16, this time completely harmless. Jorge Lorenzo adopted a risky strategy in which he brought out new tyres only for one final flying lap but the Spaniard went from outside the top 15 into the top five on that one lap, sheer luck saving him from a close call with Danilo Petrucci in the process.
Jack Miller made it three Ducatis in the top six while Johann Zarco and Rossi added a couple more Yamahas to the top eighth, over half a second off the leader. Andrea Iannone and Alvaro Bautista were the final lucky men to sneak into the top ten in case of a FP3 washout, leaving Takaaki Nakagami, Danilo Petrucci and Tito Rabat to say some prayers to the weather gods.
Rabat in particular had a troublesome afternoon as he turned his Ducati into ruins in the final 15 minutes of the session but escaped scathed himself. Dani Pedrosa’s less eventful day finished in 15th position as the Spaniard was still struggling on a less than favoured track.