Remember that shiny ball called sun? It finally showed up to the party in Australia, although accompanied by a chilly breeze. The premier class riders could hardly complain after the adventures of little under a week ago so they got working right away.
Marc Marquez only required a handful of laps to get into the 1:29s, running the consistent pace he got us used to and only allowing five other riders to get within a second of his early time after the first runs. His main enemy kept him in his sights, Andrea Dovizioso only three tenths of a second behind the world champion. The welcome sight of a Suzuki in third position was brought by Andrea Iannone for the first half of the session but the Italian went one better and switched position with his compatriot in the final fifteen minutes.
With seven minutes to go, teams decided to make the best of the conditions and go for a top ten benchmark before the typically capricious Phillip Island climate acts up again. While most of the session was spent on a soft-medium tyre combination, the final run saw some diversity, Marquez going for medium-medium while Dovizioso favoured the soft-soft. Dovizioso was edging closer to Marquez all the time, while the Spaniard failed to improve on his last run, although the Honda man was still posting a fierce pace into the high 1:29s.
Johann Zarco came closest to challenging Marquez’s session-topping time, the Frenchman putting his favoured soft rear tyre to good use to get within a tenth of a second of the world championship leader in the closing stages of FP1. Jack Miller celebrated a successful return to action on his home track with a third place on the timesheets, the Marc VDS rider little over a tenth behind Marquez.
Dovizioso eventually had to settle for fourth, closely behind the trio ahead and with Maverick Viñales only three hundredths of a second behind. The final men to post a time into the 1:29s were Iannone and Pol Espargaro, the duo over two tenths slower than the leader of the session.
Jorge Lorenzo was one of the few riders to don aero enhancements this morning and the Spaniard used them to finish eighth. Bradley Smith was one of the big movers on the soft tyres, the British rider making a late jump into ninth place. The final top ten position went to compatriot Cal Crutchlow, nearly eight tenths down on the lead Honda.
Dani Pedrosa was probably one of the people welcoming the postcard view out of the garage most, the Honda veteran appearing to struggle less than in recent times. Much like his teammate, the Spaniard did not make the switch to the soft rear tyre either and only narrowly missed out on a top ten position. Amongst the list of people hoping for improved or at least similar conditions for FP2 will also be Aleix Espargaro in twelfth place and Valentino Rossi thirteenth.
Recent podium enthusiast Danilo Petrucci could only manage a sixteenth position, while Alvaro Bautista fell towards the back of the top twenty after being the first man to crash on the wet grass in turn eight, five minutes into the session.