A gloriously sunny Friday afternoon in Phillip Island wiped off the memory of the morning’s washout but it still left the premier class frantically cramming the pursuit of the perfect setup and stringing together a fast lap in a single 45 minute practice session. Maverick Viñales was eager to impress before rain and wind steal the show once again on Saturday and the Spaniard took the reins of the session early on, only conceding briefly to Danilo Petrucci and Marc Marquez mid session. The Yamaha man ended the day nearly half a second faster than the competition and as the only man to dip into the 1:28s – not too shabby on pace either.
Andrea Dovizioso only really made an impression on the top ten once he swapped to time attack mode and it propelled him into second position on the final lap, only five thousandths of a second ahead of Cal Crutchlow. The LCR man found himself as the lead Honda in quite a while, separating a Ducati trio by holding off Petrucci by only two thousands and Jack Miller by another minimal gap.
Unlike many of his rivals, Marquez (and the Hondas in general) were more keen on hard tyres from the off and the world champion got faster the older his tyres got. Marquez demonstrated decent pace but when it was time to demonstrate his speed, he came across a slowly-moving garage-sharing obstacle that stopped him from improving any higher than sixth on the final flying lap.
Valentino Rossi left it late to make some noise but it was loud enough for seventh, closely followed by Alex Rins and with Franco Morbidelli a bit further back. Aleix Espargaro snatched the final provisional top ten spot from an unlucky Joan Mir, who had looked pretty good throughout the session. Pol Espargaro’s chances to challenge for Q2 spots got halted in the last three minutes, when the Spaniard took a rapid but ultimately harmless tumble through the gravel trap at turn 8. Meanwhile, Johann Zarco’s first dry outing on the Honda saw him finish 15th, a second and a half off top spot and quarter of a second faster than Jorge Lorenzo.
The notable absentee of FP2 was Fabio Quartararo, the Frenchman missing out on crucial dry running after he was forced to sit out the session following the heavy tumble in FP1 that filled him with painkillers for a left ankle hematoma.