Andrea Dovizioso led a Ducati clean sweep of the top MotoGP free practice places at the Red Bull Ring this morning with Jorge Lorenzo and Danilo Petrucci completing the top three slots.
In a session that might decide the qualifying two order as rain is expected this afternoon and tomorrow in Austria, it ended up a straight fight between the Ducati trio with Dovizioso winning out with a 1’23.830s lap but he set it on a medium rear while his stablemates both opted for the soft.
Lorenzo used a medium front to steer his GP18 to a 1’24.045 and Petrucci mirrored that combination to put in a 1’24.320 while following Dovizioso.
But, as is becoming the norm now, Marc Marquez stayed out on the same set of tyres for the entire session - in this case medium Michelins all round - and still set the fourth fastest time, a 1’24.411 on his sixth lap.
The reigning champion completed 15 laps on the same tyres and was still putting in 1’24.4s as the session drew to a close.
It was not a good opener for the factory Yamahas. Maverick Vinales went out and it looked like someone had forgotten to engage wheelie control, so he rapidly came back in again.
Then Valentino Rossi went out, broke down and when the other side of the garage saw that, screens went up and we believe they took off whatever it was that had broken Rossi’s bike off Vinales’ bike…
The pair recovered to post the tenth and 11th best times but Vinales is clearly not a happy camper at all with a shake of the head every time he rolled down pitlane. Spielberg isn’t a happy hunting ground for the Iwata factory at the best of times and this is not a good start.
Johann Zarco, meanwhile, seemed fairly relaxed and was fastest of the M1 contingent. He ended in ninth, just behind Tito Rabat who has again started his weekend well.
Cal Crutchlow was two-tenths quicker for seventh place, just behind Dani Pedrosa. None of the Honda men, in fact no-one at all, used the hard option front in the session. Andrea Iannone hopped into fifth as the clocked a 1’24.436.
Outside the top ten, which was covered by a second, Aleix Espargaro ended in 12th. Alvaro Bautista, Alex Rins and Bradley Smith completed the top 15 with Jack Miller down in 18th.