Under the sun of Styria, the premier class started their second assault for the crown at the Red Bull Ring. Early signs are quite comforting for Ducati, with Jack Miller at the top of the timesheets and Andrea Dovizioso breathing down his neck only four thousandths of a second behind. Miguel Oliveira jumped to third in the late time attack, the lead KTM four hundredths behind the leader and his rhythm consistently a couple of tenths slower than the Ducatis. Takaaki Nakagami led for most of the session and ended the morning fourth but less than a tenth behind top spot and with Joan Mir in tow.
Franco Morbidelli was back at the scene of last Sunday’s infamous crash and the Italian was right back up to speed in sixth place. Brad Binder continues on a high and climbs to seventh, ahead of colleague Iker Lecuona, while Maverick Vinales was the top Yamaha in ninth place, half a tenth ahead of future teammate Fabio Quartararo.
Pol Espargaro was the last of the KTMs but, presumably confident in his speed, the Spaniard did not join the late time attack and settled for 11th position, only half a second slower than the leader. With the entire field covered by one second, the likes of Danilo Petrucci, Alex Rins or Cal Crutchlow had to settle for a position outside of the top ten.
One man missing in action was Johann Zarco, the Frenchman declared unfit to take part in Friday’s proceedings after recent surgery following Sunday’s much talked about events. However, if he does join the action at some point this weekend, he will start Sunday’s race from pitlane, as a penalty for irresponsible riding last time out.