Valentino Rossi finished a practice session on top for the first time since returning to Yamaha after a lap flyer took him past teammate Jorge Lorenzo in Catalunya. As at Mugello, Friday was a day for the Yamahas with Cal Crutchlow fourth behind Dani Pedrosa, just two tenths separating the quarter at the front.
Lorenzo was on the pace immediately in the afternoon’s session, setting the fastest lap of the day on just his second timed lap, a 1:42.346. The world champion wasn’t happy though as he remonstrated with his engineers in the garage and he would be knocked off the top late on when Rossi fitted a softer rear tyre, using it to clock a 1:42.297.
Pedrosa and Crutchlow were close behind the factory YZR-M1s after finding time late in the afternoon, demoting Alvaro Bautista to fifth with Marc Marquez an unusually subdued sixth. The factory Ducatis of Nicky Hayden and Andrea Dovizioso were line astern in seventh and eighth while Stefan Bradl was relegated to ninth after tumbling at turn ten on his LCR Honda.
Bradley Smith’s bruising time in the premier class continued with the already battered Briton suffering another crash today, this time at the high-speed turn three. After failing to get back out afterwards, Smith couldn’t improve on fourteenth and faces a battle to reach Q2 tomorrow.