Maverick Vinales and Valentino Rossi sprung a surprise in first practice for the inaugural Thailand Grand Prix, taking a 1-2 for Movistar Yamaha at Buriram. The team endured a miserable weekend last time out at Aragon, and struggled for pace during the pre-season test here, but topped the timesheets in the first official session ahead of Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso.
Around a brand-new circuit, track time was at a premium but Alex Rins suffered a nightmare start to his weekend, his Suzuki appearing to break down with mechanical trouble on his first timed lap. While the rest of the field got up to speed around the Chang International Circuit, the Spaniard was navigating his way through the service roads on his way back to the pits.
For much of the morning, Marc Marquez was unchallenged at the top of the leaderboard as the world champion gradually lowered the benchmark time. At one stage, the world champion was over a second clear of his nearest challenger although lap times were substantially slower than the February test where much more rubber had been laid down.
In the end, Marquez was unbeaten until two minutes from the end as Vinales made full use of a new soft rear tyre to clock a 1:31.220, four tenths quicker than the Honda, while Rossi utilised a soft front Michelin to slot himself into second. Andrea Dovizioso was competitive throughout the morning before eventually securing third with Jack Miller relegating Marquez to fifth.
Johann Zarco leapt to sixth in the closing minutes ahead of Andrea Iannone who ran as high as second at one stage. The Suzuki man ended the morning seventh ahead of Takaaki Nakagami, Danilo Petrucci and Scott Redding, another star of the opening session.
Elsewhere, Jorge Lorenzo began the weekend with question marks surrounding his fitness and although those appear to have been answered, the Ducati rider completing 19 laps, 17th was the best he could manage early on.
2018 PTT Thailand Grand Prix (Free Practice 1)
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