Petronas Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo put in a late charge to top the opening MotoGP free practice at Valencia, deposing Jack Miller with his last lap while Valentino Rossi crashed on a cold front tyre.
Quartararo set a late 1’31.455 to lead but is only 0.057 ahead of Pramac Ducati’s Miller and just 0.077 ahead of champion Marc Marquez.
Despite it being cold, the sun was out at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo as the final race weekend of 2019 got underway. Marquez was out the blocks quickest but Monster Yamaha’s Maverick Viñales soon closed the Spaniard’s 0.9 advantage to a tenth, with the other three Yamahas of Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) were chasing Marquez inside the top five.
However, in the closing stages – after Rossi crashed unhurt at Turn 4 – Miller was setting red sectors and the Aussie went fastest by a slim margin, but Quartararo then set the quickest lap of the session on his final flying lap to end FP1 in top spot.
Behind Miller and Marquez was Viñales, with Morbidelli closing out a top five that is covered by 0.203.
Joan Mir put in a good performance on his Ecstar Suzuki to pinch sixth place ahead of Pol Espargaro with Rossi in eighth. Andrea Dovizioso and Alex Rins completed the top ten with Danilo Petrucci next along.
Aleix Espargaro and Johann Zarco took 12th and 13th while Michele Pirro crashed and his Desmosedici caught fire as it lay in the gravel trap. Cal Crutchlow completed the top 15.
On his first appearance in the premier class, Iker Lecuona (Red Bull KTM Tech 3) finished just 0.189 behind teammate Hafizh Syahrin in FP1 – an impressive debut from the Spaniard.