Jack Miller left it to the dying moments to secure his dominance in the Qatar MotoGP FP2 standings with a 1’53.145, three-tenths ahead of teammate Pecco Bagnaia.
Bagnaia came out fighting for Friday evening’s FP2 after a difficult afternoon saw both factory Ducati’s circulating at the base of the times for the first 45-minute session.
Heading the tower with a 1’54.074, last week’s pole-sitter was back in charge after less than 10 minutes of night riding, Maverick Viñales and Miguel Oliveira the next-best until Martin struck, for second, on his fourth lap.
Joan Mir advanced to fourth on his sixth attempt to sit ahead of the KTM, a somewhat recovered Franky Morbidelli, Zarco and Miller with Quartararo 0.721 off, in 10th.
Aleix Espargaro renewed his challenge for the top after 15-minutes of action, splitting the two Ducatis for second position on his fifth lap, just a tenth off the leading pace as Quartararo found himself out of Q2 contention thanks to Stefan Bradl.
20 minutes left and it was Takaaki Nakagami on a charge with the LCR man the next to claim second, Brad Binder finding his feet with the KTM as he rose to sixth as Bradl also improved, this time to fifth.
1’53.969 was the time to beat as the clock hit 14 to go, Alex Rins the rider now in control, from an equally rapid Martin, as Bagnaia saw himself demoted to third. Quartararo found his rhythm shortly after and the goalposts moved again but Espargaro’s Aprilia was back in the fight with a 53’646.
The Petronas Yamaha’s were both on the move in the closing minutes as Morbidelli claimed second from Quartararo, Valentino Rossi briefly entering the top-10 before track limits saw his time deleted. A huge moment for Miller destroying his P1-worthy effort with six to go.
The final five minutes left Rossi outside of Q2 contention alongside the reigning world champion in 13th and 14th with Miller down in 19th - his next impressive effort seemingly disrupted once again thanks to a crash for Nakagami but the time stood. The Australian now in control with a 1’53.145.
Quartararo took second as the flag prepared to fly, Espargaro in third as his Aprilia sat in the pits but it was the Ducati’s who once again demonstrated their dominance as Bagnaia soared to second from Zarco and Martin came through for fifth. Alex Marquez going down in final sector and raising questions over the flurry of late hot-laps.
Friday was done and dusted with Miller victorious over his teammate, Zarco and Quartararo with Martin, Espargaro and Morbidelli just half a second back in the top-seven. Rins sat eight from Viñales while Bradl secured the final Q2 position from a hard-fighting Oliveira and a rejuvenated Danillo Petrucci.
Mir completed another disappointing Friday in 13th ahead of Rossi and the fallen LCR duo of Nakagami and Marquez. Pol Espargaro finished FP2 in 17th from Binder, Enea Bastianini, Luca Marini, Lorenzo Savadori and Iker Lecuona.