MotoGP championship leader Andrea Dovizioso has drawn first blood at the Sachsenring, topping opening free practice in Germany ahead of Maverick Vinales and Dani Pedrosa in an early fastest-lap shootout.
Rain has been forecast for both free practices two and three, so the final ten minutes of this morning’s session turned into a time attack with soft Michelins being thrown at rear wheels in an attempt to bag a top-ten spot should the heavens open.
Dovizioso set a 1’21.599 on his 23rd effort to edge ahead of Yamaha’s Vinales, beating the Spaniard by 0.023s while Dani Pedrosa ended in third and 0.152s further back.
Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro, who was fast on hard and soft tyres, finished in fourth place with a 1’21.832 with Alvaro Bautista putting in a 1’21.840 on the Pull&Bear Ducati before crashing at the notorious turn 11.
Marc Marquez was the only front runner to remain on a hard rear for the session, putting in 27 laps with a best of 1’21.898 so the reigning champion more than likely has half a second or more in hand with the softer rear.
It was bad news for title challenger Valentino Rossi as he missed out on a top-ten spot. Rossi’s Yamaha shut itself down after ten minutes of the session and the Italian took time to pedal the M1 to find a space in the fencing. The Italian then had to go out on his second bike - equipped with the older frame - and put in the mandatory five-lap hard tyre test. He then came back in to switch to a soft rear but was unable to find pace and finished in 16th.
Johann Zarco ended the day in seventh, one ahead of Danilo Petrucci with Jack Miller and Scott Redding completing the top ten. The Octo Ducati man crashed at turn 11 late on, becoming the third rider to go down there as he joined Andrea Iannone in the gravel.
Jonas Folger ended his morning in 11th place and only 0.576s off the pace with Jorge Lorenzo in 12th, one ahead of Cal Crutchlow. Hector Barbera was 14th with Sam Lowes in 15th place. The rookie showed good pace on the hard tyre and was sitting in 11th before the soft-tyre shootout began.