The surface heated up and the action livened up for the second outing of the day in the premier class. After lots of hard rubber slathered the track for the first half of the session, the likes of Maverick Viñales snuck in some softs to take charge of proceedings by six tenths of a second heading into the final time attack. With good odds on rain making an appearance in FP3, the final seven minutes of the second practice session got fast and frantic and Fabio Quartararo proved his speed once again. After going under the radar in the morning, the Frenchman had dropped all the way back to 18th position before coming out of nowhere to claim the top of the timesheets. There were no challengers left with fresh enough tyres to have a say in the results and Quartararo grabbed Friday’s headlines by two hundredths of a second from Marc Marquez – in a rather familiar plotline.
Marquez used most of the session to put the not-so-new carbon reinforced frame to the test and stuck to his beloved hard tyres for two fairly consistent runs. After joining the final time attack, the Spaniard posted the first 1:55 time of the weekend, before Quartararo joined that select two-man group. Jack Miller showcased the sci-fi Ducati package best on his run to third position but his top time was tied with factory colleague Andrea Dovizioso’s. The FP1 leader laid low in FP2 and waited until the final ten minutes to improve on his morning’s work.
The early spotlight moved off Viñales towards the end but the Yamaha man kept close in fifth position, less than three tenths of a second slower than his Petronas branded teammate. After holding an early lead in FP2, Alex Rins fought to keep a top six position and was the final rider within half a second of Quartararo. Franco Morbidelli continued to be upstaged by his teammate but put in a solid performance in seventh spot, ahead of the factory machines of Cal Crutchlow and Valentino Rossi. To his credit, Yamaha’s veteran had far from a carefree Friday, Rossi provisionally in the top ten when smoke started pouring out the back of his bike. After crawling to pitlane, the Italian was able to rejoin the action and sneak back into provisional Q2 places.
Danilo Petrucci rounded out the top ten, demoting Joan Mir and the impressive duo of Takaaki Nakagami and Miguel Oliveira. The Japanese rider looked impressive throughout the session but a late crash cost him dearly, while the Portuguese rider’s promising improvements weren’t quite enough to keep him inside those all-important top ten places.