Petronas Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo drew first blood in the opening MotoGP free practice at Assen, topping the timesheets by 0.077s from Maverick Vinales as a brave Danilo Petrucci bounced back from a 280km/h crash to bag third.
Vinales, who spent his session on the same soft front/medium rear Michelin combination, was in charge for most of the 50 minutes but rookie Quartararo - on the satellite M1 - had other ideas and stuck in a 1’33.909 to claim bragging rights using the same tyre combo but with a fresh rear.
Vinales, on the works Monster Yamaha, had been the first rider under the 1’34s barrier and ended on a 1’33.986 which was enough to fend off a late charge from Petrucci.
The Ducati man had a whopping sixth-gear, off-throttle highside at Hoge Heide on an outlap - possibly caused by a cold tyre - but he fought back to claim third and top Ducati with a 1’34.169.
Petrucci was the first rider to go down and he was joined in the gravel by the already-injured Alex Espargaro, who hobbled away from a crash at Strubben, while Jorge Lorenzo demolished his Repsol Honda at De Bult, losing the front and bouncing all the way to the medical centre, and was then transferred to hospital for further checks.
Ecstar Suzuki’s Alex Rins set a 1’34.423 on his tenth lap and that was enough to keep him in fourth place on a medium rear and it was only a poor last sector on his 18th lap which kept him from finishing further up the order.
Taka Nakagami put in an early soft tyre run and his 1’34.441 meant he finished as top Honda with Marc Marquez and Cal Crutchlow behind him. Marquez opted to use soft Michelins all round and his 1’34.552 was enough for fifth while the British rider was only fractions behind on a soft front/medium rear.
Karel Abraham (yes, really) switched to the soft tyre combination for his last run and finished in seventh place on his Avintia Ducati, setting a 1’34.596 to stay ahead of Pol Espargaro on the Red Bull KTM.
Jack Miller completed the top ten with a 1’34.674 with Aprilia’s Andrea Iannone behind him and nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi in 12th.
The Doctor suffered an early bike problem and was back to the box after his first outlap with a faulty wheelspeed sensor. It wasn’t until his last lap that Rossi managed to break into the 1’34s as he ended eight-tenths off the pace.
Andrea Dovizioso was the slowest of the works Desmosedicis in 13th, one ahead of Aleix Espargaro with Tito Rabat completing the top 15.
Lorenzo’s RC213V was equipped with a new carbon re-inforced chassis, new aero package and a new tank complete with fins and all that is more than likely now in a skip. His time of 1’35.661 meant a final placing of 18th but still ahead of Johann Zarco.