It was perfect conditions in a perfect setting to ride a bike in Italy and Honda laid down the gauntlet in Ducati territory by helping Marc Marquez rodeo his way to the top of the timesheets. The first challenger from the red corner was Danilo Petrucci, the Italian making a late jump into second position, but it was Michele Pirro who proved once again that he’s more than Ducati’s guinea pig. The always impressive wildcard spent the entire session in the top three despite some technical niggles limiting his track time, while also showing off another one of Gigi’s trinkets, a carbon fibre rear wheel cover.
Fabio Quartararo never spends much time out of the limelight and the rookie was back in fourth position as top Yamaha by the time the session came to an end. Aleix Espargaro’s FP1 was slightly bittersweet, the Spaniard sampling a new aero fairing and slipstreaming the leader on his way to fifth position but he missed out on precious track time when his Aprilia gave up for the final 15 minutes of the session. Jack Miller kept close in sixth spot, only two and a half tenths slower than Marquez and with Takaaki Nakagami a tenth back.
Pol Espargaro’s KTM is getting used to mingling with the big boys and finished within half a second of the leader, ahead of Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso. However, the top 18 riders finished the session within only one second of Marquez, with plenty of improvement expected from the likes of Alex Rins in 11th, Valentino Rossi in 12th or Maverick Viñales in 14th, while Jorge Lorenzo bookended those 18 positions for Honda.