Marc Marquez sent an ominous message to his MotoGP rivals by dominating the opening free practice session at a blustery Silverstone. The Spaniard, who was beaten for the first time this season by Dani Pedrosa at Brno, looked back to his old self this morning with nobody able to get within half a second of him.
Marquez made an electric start to the morning but Andrea Dovizioso was also looking bright under gloomy skies in Northamptonshire. The Italian traded times with Marquez throughout his first run but by the time Ducati called their man in, Marc had opened up an eight tenth gap at the top. Stefan Bradl would soon narrow the gap to 0.511s eight laps into his first run aboard the LCR Honda but the sight of the rain flags brought many of the riders in, prompting a lull in proceedings.
The drizzle didn’t deter Dovizioso who halved his earlier deficit to Marquez, regaining second from Bradl in the process, aided to a certain extent by a tow being provided by the world champion. The slipstream looked set to drag Dovizioso to the top of the timesheets next time around with both setting red sector times but an error from the Italian at Brooklands saw him drop away, allowing Marquez to stretch his lead on track, and in the session.
Improvements were now few and far between with Bradley Smith putting in a consistent late run which lifted him to fourth but a flurry of activity in the final minute transformed the top ten. Marquez wasn’t touched, cementing his place at the top of the order with a 2:03.208, with his only moment of concern coming at Brooklands when he took to the run-off in order to avoid Pol Espargaro’s Yamaha. Andrea Iannone was the big mover, snatching second from his 2015 teammate Dovizioso, while Alvaro Bautista and Aleix Espargaro dropped into the low 2:04s, demoting Stefan Bradl to sixth.
The Movistar Yamahas of Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi were largely quiet, ending the morning seventh and eighth respectively, with Yonny Hernandez and Dani Pedrosa finding time in the dying seconds to round out the top ten. The eventful end to the session didn’t play into Bradley Smith’s hands, the Briton pitting two minutes from time and tumbling to eleventh, while Cal Crutchlow and Scott Redding were seperated by three tenths of a second in thirteenth and fourteenth respectively.
There were mixed fortunes for the other Brits with Leon Camier making a solid start in nineteenth but Michael Laverty’s weekend couldn’t have got off to a more disastrous start, his PBM machine trailing smoke before grinding to a halt without a representative time on the board.