Drenching rain put a damper on the opening day of free practice for Sunday’s Valencia GP, with the marginally dryer morning session yielding the best times, and the top honours shared between 2018 champion Marc Marquez and independent Ducati rider Danilo Petrucci.
But Repsol Honda’s Marquez set his time in the quicker morning session to lead overall, with Petrucci placed third, and Alma Pramac Ducati team-mate Jack Miller second overall.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) was third, ahead of new MotoGP Legend Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda), who is lining up for his last grand prix before retirement.
Andrea Iannone, in his last outing on the Ecstar Suzuki, was sixth-fastest; then Maverick Vinales (Movistar Yamaha), Ducati tester Michele Pirro, Red Bull KTM’s Pol Espargaro, and Alex Rins (Ecstar Suzuki) completing the top ten.
As ever, with the weather forecast uncertain as the European autumn turns towards winter, today’s times might determine the top ten going straight into tomorrow’s Q2 session.
This leaves Valentino Rossi hoping for a better chance tomorrow morning, after placing 12th overall. But the much-decorated Movistar Yamaha rider was barely 1.3 seconds slower than Marquez, and a strong third-fastest in the wet afternoon.
Jorge Lorenzo, back from injury for his last Ducati ride, was 19th overall.
The first two championship positions are already sorted – Marquez, Dovizioso. But Vinales is chasing Rossi for third overall, just two points behind. And honours for top independent-team rider are in dispute between Zarco, on 149 points, and Petrucci, with 145.
Moto2 got the worst of the afternoon weather, with no red flags to save them from themselves, and a spate of at least 20 crashes on the sodden track. Most emerged unscathed, though Sam Lowes, right at the end of the afternoon session, hurt his left ankle badly.
Again the best times came in the morning, with some unexpected names p in the top ten … like American Joe Roberts (NTS), who topped the time-sheets for long spells and ended up a close fourth. He was one` of the very many fallers, however, as was his team-mate Steven Odendaal, placed eighth.
Spaniard Iker Lecuona (SII KTM) was another to crash, but had the consolation of ending up fastest, by almost eight tenths of a second from Alex Marquez (EG-VDS Kalex). And yes, Marquez also fell.
Third-place Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM) was one who stayed wheels down; likewise fifth-fastest Lorenzo Baldassarri (Pons HP40 Kalex) and new champion Pecco Bagnaia (SKY VR46 Kalex).
Marcel Schrotter (Dynavolt Kalex). Odendaal, Joan Mir (EG-VDS Kalex) and Fabio Quartararo (Speed Up) completed the top ten.
Triple race winner Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) was 16th, Sepang winner Luca Marini (SKY VR46 Kalex) 26th; and Australian Remy Gardner (Tech 3), who crashed in the morning, 24th. He was ninth-fastest however in the wetter afternoon.
There were fewer fallers in Moto3, but still far too many, with the right-hand Turn 12 claiming most of the victims.
The top times came in the session after lunch, when the rain had eased somewhat, with EG Honda rider Alfonso Lopez on top of the list for the first time, less than five hundredths ahead of Redox KTM’s Marco Bezzecchi.
Fabio Di Giannantonio (Del Conca Gresini Honda) was equally close in third. He and Bezzecchi are locked in combat for second overall, with the KTM rider just nine points ahead.
Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Honda) was fourth, ahead of Leopard Honda’s Lorenzo Dalla Porta; with new champion Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Honda) sixth. Martin, who claimed his first race win here last year, didn’t bother to run in the morning session.
Andrea Migno (Angel Nieto KTM) was seventh, his double race-winning team-mate Albert Arenas only 12th.
Novice Can Oncu (Red Bull KTM) was an impressive eighth, the Red Bull Rookies Cup winner already having some familiarity with the circuit, and ahead of the morning session leader Nakarin Atiratphuvapat (Honda Team Asia).
By Michael Scott