Friday morning at the Chang International Circuit was a warm but overcast affair, making conditions more bearable for the premier class crowd. Marc Marquez was back at the scene of his success at the first Thai GP and the world champion was keen to reclaim the land, topping the timesheets by over a second as soon as he hit the track. The closest rivals got for the next 25 minutes was eighth tenths of a second, with a handful of riders within very close proximity on the timesheets.
Marquez was showing unrivalled pace in the mid to high 1:31s throughout the session and looked set to top the timesheets ahead of the final push on soft rubber but things got a bit more complicated for the final five minutes. The Honda man had a frightening crash at turn 7 on his outlap and was unusually slow to bounce back, with little left intact on his bike. While the limping world champion was sent for a check at the medical centre, Maverick Viñales took his FP1 crown with the first 1:30 time of the weekend. The Yamaha man showed good pace too but not quite as consistent as his Honda rival’s.
Fabio Quartararo also slipped past Marquez on the timesheets, two tenths slower than his factory colleague and two hundredths faster than the world champion’s early benchmark. Aragon podium men Andrea Dovizioso and Jack Miller rounded out the top five, within three tenths of the leader. Valentino Rossi led the chase for the early part of the session but finished his morning half a second slower than his teammate, ahead of compatriots Franco Morbidelli and Danilo Petrucci.
Joan Mir and Pecco Bagnaia completed the top ten, with Alex Rins 11th after a session where he suffered a late technical issue. Pol Espargaro had an eventful morning on his return from injury, which he celebrated with an impressive save at turn 12 and a 13th place, his best time within a second of the leader.
~~~ UPDATE ~~~
Marc Marquez has been declared fit, with some bruising on his back and legs. He will try to ride in FP2. Alberto Puig told reporters the crash was caused by Marquez being on the dirty part of the track. "On the back straight probably he was not on the correct line," Puig said. "He was on the outside line and looks like that area is a little bit dirty. The tyre got some dust there and it's one possibility that the tyre was not completely clean. That was probably the reason because he was not fast and the tyre was up to temperature, so probably it was a matter of some dust or dirt on the tyre."