Scared off by the afternoon heat in Qatar, the premier class got straight back to business when the lights flashed green on the second practice session. While appreciated, the enthusiasm was quickly tamed by a short red flag adjournment a handful of minutes into the session. After the bits of debris were quickly swept away, it was Aleix Espargaro’s time to challenge the fleet of Ducatis provisionally set up at the top of the timing screens. The Spaniard got to enjoy considerable time in the limelight until the red menace hit back and Jack Miller wrote the headlines as the fastest man on the opening night of the season, only seven thousandths of a second slower than the lap record.
Teammate Pecco Bagnaia was his closest challenger, the Italian three hundredths of a second slower in second position, while Fabio Quartararo split the Ducati contingent with a time fast enough for the top three. Johann Zarco got over his tumble from the afternoon and climbed into fourth, with Alex Rins as the lead Suzuki within the top five. Maverick Vinales in sixth was only two tenths off top spot, marginally ahead of Franco Morbidelli and Aleix Espargaro.
Valentino Rossi added a fourth Yamaha to the leading pack, while Pol Espargaro held onto the final top ten position despite adding a second crash to his scoreboard on his first race weekend with Repsol Honda. World champion Joan Mir missed out on those important combined top ten places at the end of Friday, although the Suzuki man was only half a second slower than Miller, with the top 16 positions covered by one second. It continued to be a tough day at the office for KTM, whose leading rider, Brad Binder, was in that 16 place.