The premier class arrived in Australia and immediately went surfing on soaked asphalt, swaying against the wind and finding the balance in challenging conditions that looked nothing like what Sunday promises. Rain or shine, the sight of Marc Marquez heading straight to the top of the timesheets raises no eyebrows but this time the world champion did not get to keep the laurels. Compatriot Maverick Vinales snatched the honours for Yamaha and ended the morning over a tenth of a second faster than local favourite Jack Miller, who found some early motivation on home soil. Marquez improved late on and his Honda mingled with the Yamaha and the Ducati inside the top three.
Valentino Rossi must have welcomed fourth place after the trials and tribulations of Motegi and together with Danilo Petrucci in fifth, the Italians were the last men within a second of the leader. The Petronas Yamaha camp followed on the timesheets, with Franco Morbidelli showing the way to Fabio Quartararo, although the session was not quite as uneventful for the Frenchman as the timesheets might suggest. The rookie got caught out by the tricky conditions at turn six and required a trip to the medical centre for a closer look at a painful left ankle.
Pol Espargaro was lead KTM ahead of Miguel Oliveira, while Andrea Dovizioso went under the radar to close the top ten. With Karel Abraham an impressive 11th position, Alex Rins was the first Suzuki in 12th spot, almost two seconds behind the top man. Johann Zarco’s first outing on the capricious Honda was not an easy proposition given the conditions but the Frenchman embraced it fully and was the second best Honda to the world champion, 13th and narrowly ahead of unexpected teammate Cal Crutchlow.