The few droplets of rain that cut the Moto3 session short left the scene by the time the premier class was unleashed and riders were not particularly cautious to start with. Probably trying to ensure a hot lap on soft rubber in case rain decided to make a comeback, there were plenty of red lights on the timing screens, in addition to Fabio Quartararo riding the gravel and Alex Rins scraping the floor at turn four early on. If the two youngsters shared the early limelight, things looked much different by the end.
Things settled for the middle part of the session with Jack Miller on top, until the final 15 minutes brought Rins out to play on a fresh rear tyre but still a couple hundredths off the FP1 benchmark. It was down to the final handful of minutes to bring the excitement but it did deliver and it was Fabio Quartararo who stole the headlines at the end of Friday. The Frenchman’s final flying lap saw him jump ahead of Andrea Dovizioso by almost three tenths of a second, with another three tenths covering the rest of the top eight. Takaaki Nakagami ended up as lead Honda in third position, with Pol Espargaro having another an excellent afternoon in fourth. Pecco Bagnaia beat Franco Morbidelli and Valentino Rossi in the VR46 Academy battle, while Danilo Petrucci, Cal Crutchlow and Rins completed the top ten in FP2.
Meanwhile, Marc Marquez proved that old habits die hard / practice makes perfect and spent his first handful of laps stalking the factory Ducatis. He then switched focus to a long run on soft rubber before oddly swapping to harder compounds while rivals were going for the time attack. The Spaniard never threatened the top of the timesheets and finished 17th, as the only rider not to improve his FP1 time, but he avoided any major drama and kept ninth spot on the combined standings.
Marquez’s win was Rins’ loss, the Suzuki rider going from the top of the timesheets in FP2 to 11th on the combined standings in a matter of minutes, after a not particularly tidy session. Another victim of the small margins – with 20 riders within one second of the leader – was Maverick Viñales, the Spaniard lingering at the bottom of the top 15 and hoping for a pleasant Saturday morning in Barcelona.