MotoGP: Rins leads the way on close opening day

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Alex Rins has topped the opening day of MotGP action at the Malaysian Grand Prix – but has only just held off the advances of his opposition, with 0.2 covering six riders and four manufacturers at the top of the time sheets as Andrea Dovizioso and Marc Marquez joined him on the provisional front row.

Despite the threat of rain throughout the day, the MotoGP riders were able to get two full dry sessions done and dusted in Malaysia, and it was the Suzuki leading the way as the chequered flag came out at the end of FP2. Rins was the man at the summit thanks to his late FP2 time, with Dovi failing to improve on his FP1 time in the afternoon session – seventh for the Italian in FP2. Marquez, meanwhile, finished the second session in second, but the world champion had an eventful day. In typical Marquez fashion, the number 93 had to save the front of his RC213V numerous times across the two sessions.

There were no such close shaves for fourth place overall and sixth fastest in FP2 Valentino Rossi though, as the Doctor had a strong Friday to end the day so close to the top. Just behind him and fifth on the combined times was Jack Miller on board his Alma Pramac Racing Ducati, the Australian setting a quickest time of 1:59.771 to end FP2 in third, and Miller was also the first rider to dip into the 1:59s in FP2. Meanwhile, Australian GP winner Maverick Viñales completes the day sixth on the overall times, the Spaniard going fourth fastest in FP2 to end the day less than two tenths off the leader.

Just 0.009 behind him at the end of Friday’s proceedings sits Danilo Petrucci, seventh overall for the Italian thanks to his FP2 time, with Johann Zarco improving by over half a second in the second session to end Friday in eighth. Completing the provisional automatic Q2 places were Andrea Iannone in ninth and Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s Aleix Espargaro in tenth – the latter struggling with grip in the afternoon.

Returning from injury, Jorge Lorenzo endured a tough opening day. The five-time world champion finished bottom of the timesheets and over three seconds adrift of the fastest time, and will further assess his fitness on Saturday.

Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer