Andrea Dovizioso made the perfect start to a potentially decisive weekend by topping both Friday practice sessions at Sepang. The Ducati rider must outscore Marc Marquez by eight or more points to keep his championship hopes alive and looked in good shape on day one in Malaysia in all weather conditions.
A rain shower prior to FP1 complicated matters for the riders in the morning session with many sitting out the opening twenty minutes while they waited for the circuit to dry out. Once conditions had improved sufficiently for slicks, Marquez was immediately on the pace but with the championship leader opting against a new set of tyres late on, he would ultimately slip to fifth.
Dovizioso’s late burst saw him top the timesheets ahead of Aspar’s Alvaro Bautista and Tech 3’s Johann Zarco who blotted his copybook with a crash at turn eight in the rain-affected second session, compounded when the Frenchman tipped his YZR-M1 over while attempting to re-join the track. Maverick Vinales climbed to fourth, two tenths off the pace, with Marquez fractionally slower in fifth.
Cal Crutchlow was sixth, although the Briton’s lack of wet-weather pace in FP2 will be of concern to LCR Honda, while Karel Abraham ensured both Aspar riders will head into the final practice session in possession of a Q2 spot. Hector Barbera shone throughout the morning session before finishing eighth ahead of Dani Pedrosa while Jorge Lorenzo completes a top ten including no fewer than six Ducatis.
With heavy rain falling for much of the afternoon, FP1 saw the only dry track time of the day, a fact which will leave debutant Michael van der Mark at something of a disadvantage. Despite his lack of preparation, the Dutch WorldSBK star impressed to finish nineteenth fastest.
2017 Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix – Friday Practice
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