When the field went out for the second and final session of the afternoon times were expected to drop, and they did by nearly a second for the majority of the riders. Marquez seized control of the running order early, which was followed by a crash, but the gap between he and the field tightened considerably with Viñales, Rossi, and point leader Crutchlow all within a half second, and Lorenzo within eight tenths. As time expired on the session Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Andrea Iannone laid down a blazing lap that put him just .056 ahead of Marquez, but once again Monster Energy made its presence felt.
As the dust settled on Day 1, the Yamaha duo of Viñalesand Rossi capped off the afternoon with the fourth and fifth-fastest times of the afternoon, with Crutchlowrounding out the top five while Lorenzo slotted into seventh. Fellow Monster riders Johann Zarco (13th), HafizhSyahrin (16th), and Franco Morbidelli (20th) all posted top-20 times.
“FP2 went quite well and I’m quite happy overall, even considering we didn’t try the soft [tire] at the end because in the beginning, I didn’t feel good on the soft in the first laps,” said Viñales. “I still think we have good potential on the soft, so I think we still have margin to improve. We started better than we did on the previous two tracks. I hope we can go faster and have a bit more of a stable bike for tomorrow.”
“Yes, it was a positive day because I was quite fast in both practice sessions, I feel good with the bike, we worked a lot to improve the acceleration. We tried something different and its better, I’m quite happy about this,” explained Rossi. “For me, the bigger question mark is about the tires, especially from the rear, because we have minimum two option front and two option rear open for the race, and it looks like the weather forecast for tomorrow is not fantastic, we don’t have enough time to understand well so it will be very important to make the right choice.”
A big day looms on Saturday as the Monster team will tackle the 3.426 mile circuit for one final free practice session before gearing up for what should be a tense round of qualifying. Rain is in the forecast on Saturday, which should only further enhance the drama set to unfold in the chase for grid positions.
Overall Friday Times
1. Andrea Iannone, Suzuki – 2:04.599
2. Marc Marquez, Honda – 2:04.655
3. Maverick Viñales, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – 2:04.863
4. Valentino Rossi, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – 2:04.958
5. Cal Crutchlow, LCR Honda CASTROL – 2:05.088
7. Jorge Lorenzo, Ducati Team – 2:05.478
13. Johann Zarco, Monster Yamaha Tech 3 – 2:05.933
16. Hafizh Syahrin, Monster Yamaha Tech 3 – 2:06.219
20. Franco Morbidelli, EG 0,0 Marc VDS – 2:06.640