The pretty blue skies of Friday morning got a less fetching blanket of clouds by the time FP2 came around. However, with the rain saving itself for Saturday, a hot pace was a must for the premier class. Marc Marquez resumed regular scheduling at the top of the standings until Maverick Viñales anticipated the push for Q2 positions with 13 minutes remaining. However, FP1 times did not come under threat until late in the session, when Franco Morbidelli opened the floodgates and Fabio Quartararo walked straight through, nine tenths of a second faster than his teammate and beating his own lap record from FP1. As frightful as his rapid pace on the medium front – soft rear tyre combination.
Andrea Dovizioso eventually reduced the shame to six tenths but had no real answer to the Frenchman’s blistering speed and only a mild response in terms of rhythm. Compatriot Valentino Rossi joined the top three after a pretty solid session for the Yamaha veteran, sneaking ahead of apprentice Morbidelli, who was the final rider to post a time within a second of his teammate. Jack Miller climbed to fifth, ahead of Aleix Espargaro and Cal Crutchlow.
Pecco Bagnaia was eighth in FP2, although the Italian just about missed out on a top ten position on combined standings. Viñales also failed to improve on his best time from the morning session but kept busy by giving the hard rear tyre a quick go. Alex Rins’ Suzuki rounded out the top ten for the session, ahead of teammate Joan Mir, but only Rins secured a spot on the combined rankings for Q2.
Meanwhile, Marquez showed extreme fondness for used tyres, staying on a medium front – soft rear combination throughout the session and having solid pace on it, but that was true for several of his rivals, mainly the Yamahas. The Spaniard not swapping to new rubber left stranded in an unfamiliar 13th position, but safely inside the combined top ten based on FP1 times. If FP3 is indeed a washout, the likes of Mir and Danilo Petrucci are the prime candidates for an extra trip through Q1.
It was overall a tough day for KTM, with Pol Espargaro as their lead fighter in 16th position and over two seconds slower than the fresh lap record holder. In addition, after giving it a quick go in FP1, Miguel Oliveira decided to sit out the rest of the weekend while he recovers from injuries sustained in practice in Australia.