In the middle of a heat wave, the first day of practice started out unexpectedly wet, the sweeping Brno track only fully drying in the afternoon, midway through MotoGP’s FP2.
Although slick tyres had been possible from the start, this lead to rapidly improving times in the later stages, with Andrea Dovizioso’s Ducati emerging massively on top by almost half a second.
“The time sheets are not the reality,” the double 2017 race winner said; “because many riders did not use soft tyres. But I am happy in the afternoon that we can confirm our speed on this track, and I was happy in the morning also, to have the chance to test soft and hard rain tyres.”
Dovi was as yet unsure whether he would use Ducati’s new ducted fairing essayed by team-mate Lorenzo, having not even tested it yet.
Next up was Jonas Folger, the Monster Yamaha rider’s confidence at a favourite track boosted by his second in the last round in Germany.
He had only narrowly gone faster than Danilo Petrucci (Pramac Ducati).
Second Monster Yamaha rider Johann Zarco was fourth, from erstwhile leader Hector Barbera (Avintia Ducati) and Pramac Ducati’s Scott Redding.
Dani Pedrosa in seventh was the top Honda, with factory Repsol Honda team-mate Marc Marquez tenth. Good enough, if it is wet tomorrow morning, for each to go straight into the “senior” Q2. As importantly, they had been at the sharp end in the wet, Marquez a close second to Zarco, and Pedrosa fourth behind Lorenzo.
Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) was eighth in the dry; Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) ninth.
Both factory Yamahas were out of the top ten, with Vinales 11th and Rossi 14th, and worried that tomorrow morning might be damp again.
Each now had a pair of identical Mk2 2017 chassis, which was important, said Rossi. “At the last two races we had one new and one old, but now we can work more accurately with two the same.”
Jack Miller was 19th, and working to get back in the MotoGP groove after his Suzuka 8 Hours outing on a Superbike. “We made good progress this afternoon, even though the final position clearly isn’t where we want to be. It was tricky conditions today,” he said.
Moto2 FP2 at the close of the afternoon was fully dry, with Mugello winner Mattia Pasini putting his Italtrans Kalex better than two tenths clear of compatriot Francesco Bagnaia, top class rookie, on the SKY VR46 Kalex.
Xavi Vierge (Tech 3) was third, then Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM) and Sandro Cortese (Dynavolt Suter), before the next Kalex, ridden by runaway title leader Franco Morbidelli. The EG-VDS rider crashed late in the session but was unhurt.
Remy Gardner was 23rd, after limping away from a heavy tumble.
Moto3 saw the usual stars humiliated by a wild card, with German Tim Georgi (Freudenberg KTM) fastest in the morning rain, and heading the afternoon session as well, in spite of slipping off, until the closing minutes.
Then the usual suspects took over, points leader and multi-race winner Joan Mir (Leopard Honda) fully four tenths clear of two more Hondas, with Aron Canet second, then Adam Norrodin.
Mugello winner Andrea Migno (KTm0 was fourth, and Mahindra rookie Manuel Pagliani fifth, ahead of Goergi, who had not improved on his morning time.
By Michael Scott