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Iffy weather caused several crashes on the first day at Jerez, with the track still sporting a couple of damp patches in the afternoon, after a wet morning session.

But while Maverick Vinales was one of two MotoGP riders to pay the price, Dani Pedrosa made hay on a track where Honda filled the top three places, and top Yamaha (Vinales) was almost a second slower, only sixth-fastest.

Pedrosa’s Repsol Honda led both sessions, ending up less than three quarters of a second off the lap record.

Next up, fast in both wet and dry, Jack Miller (VDS Honda), half a second off and less than a tenth ahead of Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), who was testing the short exhaust rejected at the last round by Pedrosa.

The three had pushed ahead of surprise late leader Jorge Lorenzo, underlining his ever-improving relationship with his factory Ducati, and undermining the Spanish circuit’s reputation of being a bogey track for the Italian bike.

Danilo Petrucci did the same, placing fifth on the Pramac Ducati; then Vinales before two more of the V4s, ridden by Alvaro Bautista and Andrea Dovizioso.

The other crasher in the premier class was Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia), placed ninth.

His brother Pol Espargaro was jubilant after putting the Red Bull KTM tenth, in its first outing with a new Big Bang engine. Rossi was 12th, making a slow start.

Triple winner Franco Morbidelli was another to go down on the entry to the troublesome Turn 9 (Angel Nieto Corner), scene of most of the crashes.

This left top spot to his EG-VDS Kalex team-mate Alex Marquez, pushing Dominique Aegerter’s Suter to second. More chassis variety put the increasingly impressive Xavier Vierge’s Tech 3 into third; with erstwhile leader Fabio Quartararo (Kalex) ahead of Morbidelli in fourth.

Title challenger Tom Luthi was 14th, times still tight.

All but eight Moto3 riders essayed at least a few laps in the patchily wet morning session. Better conditions in the afternoon tempted them all out, and saw double race winner Joan Mir lead three Hondas on the time sheets. The Spaniard displaced Austin winner Romano Fenati at the last gasp; while third-fastest John McPhee lost his chance of going faster, slipping off at the finish.

Darryn Binder (KTM) was fourth, ahead of two more Hondas, of Livio Loi and rookie Tony Arbolino.