Reigning MotoGP World Champion Marc Marquez topped the opening MotoGP practice at Barcelona this morning, making an uncharacteristic switch to soft Michelins all round for his final run to edge out Fabio Quartaro by a tenth of a second with Maverick Vinales third.
Marquez usually sticks to a single set of tyres in the opening session to gauge some sort of race distance pace but a lack of grip at Montmelo meant he opted to stick in the stickiest rubber with a few minutes left to run and set a 1’40.692 to top the sheets.
Monster Yamaha’s Vinales had led the session on a 1’40.872, himself taking over from the Repsol Honda man, on a soft front, medium rear combination but it proved no match for his countryman, and Vinales was pushed back another place by the Petronas Yamaha of Quartaro who set a 1’40.803 on the same tyre combo.
It was not great news for the other side of the Monster Yamaha garage, though, as Valentino Rossi had another opening practice to forget, only hauling himself into ninth place with his last lap on a medium rear. The Doctor is half a second off the pace, which is a wide margin this season.
Countryman Andrea Dovizioso was the fastest Ducati, putting his works GP19 in fourth place and three-tenths behind title rival Marquez.
Taka Nakagami flew the flag for the LCR Honda team in fifth place, just head of Jack Miller’s Pramac Ducati in sixth. Alex Rins was seventh with everyone bar Marquez in the top ten on a soft/medium tyre combo.
Franco Morbidelli set a 1’41.160 for eight to ensure Rossi was the last Yamaha with Aleix Espargaro completing the top ten on his home track.
Cal Crutchlow ended in 11th place with Joan Mir, Johann Zarco, Pol Espargaro and Pecco Bagnaia rounding out the top 15.
After a trip to Japan to meet with HRC bigwigs and a new fuel bolted to his Repsol Honda, Jorge Lorenzo is exactly where he has been all season in 17th but one in front of Mugello winner Danilo Petrucci.
Britain’s Bradley Smith is wildcarding on the Aprilia this weekend and he finished in 22nd, one ahead of Suzuki test ridr Sylvain Guintoli who had a new frame and swingarm, plus new electronics, to test this weekend.