Franco Morbidelli claims the top spot in Free Practice 2 ahead of teammate Fabio Quartararo in a Petronas 1-2 whilst reigning world-champion Marc Marquez is fastest overall.
Free Practice Friday did not get off to the best of starts for the Petronas duo as Quartararo was forced to sit out of the first 20 minutes of the session due to a penalty he received earlier in the week. The young Frenchman was slapped with the 20-minute penalty after it was deemed he had breached the rules regarding training and track familiarisation whilst testing a Yamaha R1 at the Paul Ricard circuit in June.
During FP1, temperatures on track had already reached a toasty 34 degrees but, with the heat due to rise, riders were eager to bank their fastest laps ahead of the afternoon sessions. Both Petronas riders failed to get within the top 10 during the morning session whilst M.Marquez, Maverick Vinales and LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow delivered some blistering times to take the top three spots.
As on track temperatures reached 54 degrees afternoon, the scorching heat took their toll on the riders and their machines with both Repsol Honda riders taking a trip to the gravel, first rookie Alex Marquez followed not long after by M.Marquez.
Despite his tumble at turn two, the increased heat prevented anyone from knocking M.Marquez off the top spot with a 1:37.350. Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso managed a 1:37.471 to end the day in fourth ahead of Joan Mir in fifth. Australian Jack Miller finished in sixth ahead of Alex Rins in seventh and Pol Espargaro in eighth.
The KTM newcomers of Brad Binder and Iker Lecuona put on impressive displays to finish inside the overall top 10 with Lecuona ninth and Binder tenth, provisionally placing them into Q2 alongside some of the big hitters on Saturday afternoon.
Despite gracing the tops of the timesheets in Free Practice 2, Morbidelli and Quartararo join the likes of Valentino Rossi, Danilo Petrucci and Aleix Espargaro outside of the automatic Q2 zone and will have to put in some additional work in Free Practice3.
With qualifying set to take place in similar race conditions, the laps may not be as fast as seen in Free Practice1 or what may be delivered in Free Practice 3 but, after such a long wait to return to the track, the riders will surely be pushing their bikes and themselves to their limits so nail-biting action is to be expected.
Full results here.