Perfect weather and a resurfaced track saw fast times but no new records on the first day of practice for Sunday’s Spanish GP … and a surprise name at the top of the time-sheets.
It was Mission Winnow Ducati rider Danilo Petrucci, whose afternoon time of 1m 37.909 put him just over one hundredth ahead of Marc Marquez’s morning time, at a track where in recent years the Italian bikes have struggled.
Team-mate Andrea Dovizioso was less than a tenth down in the afternoon, and on combined times the two red bikes sandwiched the Repsol Honda.
Hotter conditions in the afternoon probably accounted for the small deficit of a quarter of a second on the track best time; but good weather forecast for the full weekend suggests there is more to come … and for once today’s FP2 times are unlikely to be the benchmark for who goes straight through into the top-12 Q2 tomorrow afternoon.
This means not too much sleep lost for Valentino Rossi, (Monster Yamaha), placed 16th, albet just three quarters of a second down, with another chance tomorrow.
Jorge Lorenzo’s promise that he would be getting up to speed at this race came good, with the Repsol Honda rider a close second to Marquez in the morning, and fourth overall, also not improving his time in FP2.
Third factory Honda rider Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), who holds the ultimate fastest lap, did cut almost seven tenths in the afternoon, to end up fifth, edging out Maverick Vinales (Monster Yamaha), who was sixth on his morning time.
Taka Nakagami (LCR Honda) was another not to improve, ending up a close seventh, ahead of another morning guy, the consistently astonishingly fast class rookie Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha).
Honda test rider Stefan Bradl (Team HRC) was ninth; Jack Miller (Pramac Ducati) tenth.
Then came Franco Morbidellio (Petronas Yamaha), CotA winner Alex Rins (Ecstar Suzuki), Pecco Bagnaia (Pramac Ducati) and Pol Espargaro on the top Red Bull KTM. Iannone (Aprilia) completed the top 15, ahead of Rossi and his Aprilia tam-mate Aleix Espargaro.
It was a bad day in general for KTM, with star recruit Johann Zarco ending up 19th after two tumbles, and Oliveira and Syahrin 23rd and 24th out of 24, the last-named missing most of the afternoon session after a heavy crash.
Bradley Smith, in a wild card ride for Aprilia, also crashed heavily, bringing out the red flags as he was stretchered away with less than three minutes of FP2 remaining.
In Moto2 the new 765cc Triumph engines did manage to crack the previous 600cc Honda record, with 21 riders all within the same second, and only two of those running faster in the afternoon. The most noticeable of this pair was Marcel Schrotter, who shaved of 0.15 of a second to slot into tenth on the Dynavolt Kalex.
But it was rival chassis taking the top three slots. Jorge Navarro (Speed Up) set the pace at 1m 41.819s, a couple of hundredths ahead of Brad Binder and his Red Bull KTM team-mate Jorge Martin.
Tom Luthi (Dynavolt Kalex) was the best of the Kalexes, with Remy Gardner (ONEXOX Kalex) and Alex Marquez (VDS Kalex) fifth and sixth.
While championship leader Lorenzo Baldassarri crashed in the afternoon while trying to improve on 11th place, his FlexBox HP40 Kalex team-mate Augusto Fernandez, back from injury in Argentina, was seventh fastest, with Nagashima. Marini (both Kalex) and Schrotter completing the top ten.
American Joe Roberts was 31st, less than two seconds off the pace.
Moto3 fell short of a new record, but promised the usual close action, with 22 riders within one second of the top time, set by Nico Antonelli (SIC58 Honda).
The Italian was the best of seven Hondas in the top ten, with team-mate Tatsuki Suzuki second; and rookie Raul Fernandez (Samar KTM) less than a tenth down in third.
Morning leader John McPhee (Petronas Honda) was one of a handful not to improve his FP1 time, but it was good enough to keep him fourth, ahead of Aron Canet (Sterilgarda KTM) and Romano Fenati (Snipers Honda); with the Hondas of Gabriel Rodrigo, Tony Arbolino and Riccardo Rossi; with Dennis Foggia’s KTM rounding
Argentine GP winner Jaume Masia (KTM) was 11th, the similarly mounted runner up at that race, Darryn Binder, was down in 21st.
By Michael Scott