Back in action on the fairly familiar playground of Jerez barely a handful of days after last engaging in battle, the premier class was quick to get up to speed. With the world champion sitting this one out and Honda’s next fastest man also recovering from surgery, the top ten was left open for a Yamaha invasion. And while plenty of Yamahas took the invitation, KTM also showed up to the party early. Maverick Vinales robbed his teammate of top spot on the final lap of FP1 but second on the timesheets was fine progress from last weekend for Valentino Rossi. Rookie Brad Binder led the KTM brigade in third spot, three tenths off the lead and ahead of Franco Morbidelli.
Pol Espargaro and Miguel Oliveira added two more KTMs at the forefront of proceedings, with Jack Miller the top Ducati in seventh position. Takaaki Nakagami carried Honda to its only top ten placement in the session, in eighth, while Aleix Espargaro and Andrea Dovizioso claimed the rest of the top ten positions. Joan Mir, Iker Lecuona and Fabio Quartararo were not too far off, about seven tenths off the lead, but the Frenchman was confident in his speed and not tempted by a late time attack in FP1.
Cal Crutchlow and Alex Rins were back on track after their respective injuries one week ago and predictably struggled on their first outing, finishing last, a couple seconds off the pace.