Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo made it a one-two for Ducati on day one at the San Marino Grand Prix, with the two split by just 0.160 at the top. Reigning champion Marc Marquez was back in fifth despite leading the way for much of the afternoon, but the Repsol Honda rider was consistent and the race could well be a battle between the two factions.
But that's for Sunday, and Friday was dominated more by time attacks for many - with rain threatening the day, more threatening FP3 on Saturday and that all-important place in the top ten up for grabs on day one.
The dash to make it into that top ten almost made for the headline that never was, with Valentino Rossi a last push away from finding himself outside of automatic qualification to Q2 by the close of action on Friday. The Italian left it late to lunge up to eighth overall in a tense race against time for the rider from Tavullia but the rain held off and the local hero makes it through.
Dovizioso and Lorenzo’s closest challenger on the combined timesheets, however, was Cal Crutchlow, who also ended Friday as top Honda and top independent rider. He was a tiny margin behind Lorenzo, just 0.027s, but the gap behind him was an even tighter 0.026 as Maverick Viñales took fourth and edged Marquez by the end of play.
Marquez, meanwhile, was a little further off. The number 93 was just over a tenth behind his compatriot, but he did have a comfortable 0.185 back to Danilo Petrucci in sixth – and his rhythm looked impressive. Behind Petrux was Alex Rins in seventh just half a tenth further back, with Rossi ultimately taking eighth late in the day but only 0.011 off the Spanish sophomore’s best lap of the day.
Andrea Iannone and Franco Morbidelli completed a top ten rife with home heroes, although the day came to a more difficult end for The Maniac. Crashing out right near the conclusion of FP2, the Italian was the only man in the top ten by virtue of his FP1 time.
So who could be missing from Q2 if the weather changes on Saturday morning? Former winner at the venue Dani Pedrosa was one key name just pushed out, along with Johann Zarco and Jack Miller. Miller was a two-time crasher on day one, and will be hoping for good weather on Saturday.