Jack Miller impressed in the wet as he confidently rode his Ducati around Valencia in the first of two races at the Ricardo Tormo circuit to top FP1 ahead of the European MotoGP round.
Cold, wet and windy weather greeted the riders for their first session at Valencia, so times were slow as the riders managed the conditions. The Pramac rider did this the best, lowering his own early benchmark to a session best of 1m 42.063s.
Fresh from his victory last time out on track in the Teruel Grand Prix, Franco Morbidelli was his closest rival, pushing hard on the Petronas Yamaha SRT to move to within 0.467s of the Australian’s time.
The pair were split by Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing Ducati) as he picked up the pace to climb to fourth from twelfth as the session drew to a close.
Danilo Petrucci started the session positively for Ducati and lead the way briefly before fading to sixth.
Pol Espargaro claimed the seventh best time as the best of the Red Bull KTM riders, ahead of Miguel Olivera on the Tech 3 by one position.
Andrea Dovizioso, a rider with proven wet performance at Valencia having won the 2018 race in similar weather, finished down in ninth in a session where most chose to take a careful approach with the rest of the weekend predicted to be dry.
Maverick Vinales rounded out the top ten for Monster Energy Yamaha.
Polesitter last time out, Takaaki Nakagami looked to still lack a little confidence after his fall in the race, posting the eleventh best time for LCR Honda.
Alex Espargaro was top Aprilia in twelfth, ahead of the best of the Suzuki riders, with Alex Rins making up a little ground late on to climb to 13th.
Francesco Bagnaia was the first faller in the session, adding to his poor run of form and hampering his progress – he finished 14th.
Valentino Rossi must return another negative Covid test before being allowed to get on track, meaning he will miss both Friday sessions. That gave Garrett Gerloff a chance to show what he could do with the Yamaha.
Despite being new to everything he adapted fast to the tyres and machinery and learned his way around the track quickly to finish the session 16th – ahead of some notable names including an injured Cal Crutchlow in 18th.
The American was also ahead of Joan Mir, still at the head of the title race after the Yamaha engine investigation penalty did not affect the rider standings. The Suzuki man was incredibly cautious, pulling out of several faster laps to mitigate the risk of crashing. He was 17th at the end of FP1.
Last of all the riders to take to the track was title hopeful Fabio Quartararo. The Petronas rider suffered a complete lack of grip, which severely dented his on track confidence. The Frenchman’s best lap was a massive 2.728s away from Miller’s best.
Valencian Iker Lecuona will be missing from the weekend’s action after his brother posted a positive Coronavirus result. The Red Bull KTM rider tested negative himself.
Lorenzo Savadori also makes his MotoGP debut this weekend, the Italian Championship winner takes over from Bradley Smith at Aprilia. His best lap took him to 20th.