The premier class got their very first taster of a wet Chang International Circuit after a significant delay to the day’s action and another handful of minutes ahead of the MotoGP session to clear puddles mainly at turn one. With the session also reduced to 35 minutes, Marc Marquez got straight down to business, immediately two seconds faster than the opposition in the tricky conditions. Rivals rushed to bridge the gap of Golden Gate proportions and Ducati got the job done, aided by the couple of moments that slowed down the world champion for the next few laps.
Danilo Petrucci was the first to dethrone the Honda man 15 minutes into the session, the Italian famously enjoying mixed conditions. Ducati didn’t hold top spot for long, Maverick Viñales taking over for Yamaha ahead of the final charge. The surface was starting to show dry patches for the final ten minutes and times were getting faster and faster, a quick succession of riders claiming top spot under the first glimpse of sun.
The quickly drying track saw some brave late attempts on slick rubber and the decision paid off for most of them, Andrea Dovizioso snatching the top of the timesheets at the checkered flag – eight tenths of a second faster than Franco Morbidelli and another half a second on Alex Rins.
Marquez was the fastest of the men on rain rubber, the Honda rider fourth, over two seconds down on the leader but having abandoned a red hot lap and bailing out of the session a few minutes early. Viñales followed his compatriot closely, with Karel Abraham also timing his swap to slicks well enough to claim sixth position. Cal Crutchlow, Joan Mir, Fabio Quartararo and Miguel Oliveira rounded out the top ten, trailing the leader by over three seconds. Valentino Rossi was also tempted by slicks but too late to get them to work any better than 11th spot.
With the sun coming out too late for a serious time attack of the combined timesheets, Friday’s top ten is heading straight to Q2, Quartararo showing the way to Viñales, Morbidelli, Jack Miller, Rossi, Marquez, Aleix Espargaro, Dovizioso, Mir and Rins. The likes of Petrucci, Crutchlow, Takaaki Nakagami or Pol Espargaro got stuck in Q1 for the time being.