Alex Rins continued Suzuki’s impressive recent form by setting the pace on Friday ahead of the Malaysian Grand Prix. The Spaniard led a top four, covered by just over a tenth of a second, featuring four different manufacturers with the omens promising for a fiercely competitive race at Sepang this weekend.
After missing the last two races through injury, all eyes were on the returning Jorge Lorenzo in the factory Ducati garage. The five-times champion withdrew from the Japanese Grand Prix after a handful of laps in FP1 and history appeared to be repeating itself when Jorge lapped three seconds off the pace in the morning session, finishing at the bottom of the leaderboard. Lorenzo was even slower in FP2, completing only four timed laps, but has not yet officially withdrawn from the event.
Andrea Dovizioso was riding in total comfort on the sister Ducati, setting the fastest time in the morning session, and it took a qualifying-style time attack on new tyres from Rins to usurp him. The Italian, who could secure the championship runner-up spot this weekend, was four thousandths quicker than Marc Marquez in third overall, despite an erratic afternoon for the world champion who had several near-misses on his ill-handling Honda.
Valentino Rossi wound up fourth by virtue of his FP1 time, although his long run consistency during the afternoon was particularly eye-catching, while Yamaha team-mate Maverick Vinales finished sixth behind the Pramac Ducati of Jack Miller. Danilo Petrucci was seventh ahead of Johann Zarco and Andrea Iannone while Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro holds the last provisional Q2 spot overnight.
2018 Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix (Friday Practice)
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