One week after a dismal 13th in Australia all but handed the title to Marquez on a plate, erstwhile challenger Andrea Dovizioso found himself in control in both wet and dry conditions at Sepang.
Last year, the Ducati rider took his second GP win at the Malaysia circuit; and he was uncatchable again in a day of changing conditions.
The morning’s FP1 started damp but had dried by the end; with Dovi narrowly ahead of independent Ducati rider Alvaro Bautista, and less than a tenth off the lap record.
FP2 was wet throughout, and Dovizioso’s advantage was bigger – better than half a second over Marc Marquez’s Repsol Honda.
Given the changeable conditions and frequent showers at the circuit outside the capital Kuala Lumpur, the morning times could well decide the top ten to go straight into Q2 tomorrow.
The order had Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha) third, ahead of Maverick Vinales (Movistar Yamaha), Marquez and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda); and then Karel Abraham and Hector Barbera (both Ducati) from second Repsol Honda man Dani Pedrosa and Dovi’s team-mate Jorge Lorenzo.
Rossi languished in 12th, between Petrucci and Iannone, with Jack Miller also 14th.
However, the wet times may be of more significance for the race; with Lorenzo a close third to Dovi and Marquez; and then team-mates Vinales and Rossi sandwiching wet specialist Danilo Petrucci’s Octo Ducati.
Bautista was seventh, then the Ecstar Suzuki pair, with Rins (last in the morning) heading Iannone.
Conditions played more or less the same for the smaller classes.
Moto2’s dry morning had Australian GP winner Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM) on top, with points leader Franco Morbidelli (VDS Kalex) less than a tenth slower, and his last remaining challenger Thomas Luthi (CarXpert Kalex) even closer in third.
Nakagami, Pasini and Vinales were next, with Alex Marquez (VDS Kalex) seventh. And in the wet afternoon it was Marquez who came to the fore late in the session, heading Forward Kalex rider Lorenzo Baldassarri from Oliveira and Luthi. Morbidelli was almost a second down in sixth, behind Tech 3 rider Xavi Vierge.
New Moto3 champion Joan Mir (Leopard Honda) was on top in the morning, from on-form Malaysian Adam Norrodin (SIC Honda) and second Leopard rider Livio Loi. Erstwhile title challenger Romano Fenati (Rivacold Honda) was fourth. But Mir was eighth in the rain in the afternoon, with Aron Canet (EG Honda) taking top spot ahead of Red Bull KTM rider Bo Bendsneyder.
Malaysian wild card Kasma Daniel Kasmayu (Petronas Honda) was an impressive ninth in the wet, but ended the session with a heavy crash.