Britain’s Scott Redding has topped the second MotoGP free practice session today in Qatar, taking a full second off his laptime from yesterday on a track that was a little green after rain and hail this afternoon and most riders were looking to make it into the top ten in case of rain this evening.
Redding, who has switched back to the 2016-spec Ohlins forks to find some front-end feel, put in a 1’55.085 to pinch top spot from Andrea Dovizioso by a tenth of a second as rookie Jonas Folger bagged third place on a 1’55.208 to end just 0.123s off the pace.
Folger’s Monster Yamaha team-mate Johann Zarco secured fourth place with a 1’55.316, just ahead of yesterday’s quickest man Maverick Vinales who is still top of the combined timesheet with his 1’54.316 from free practice one. His second session time of 1’55.378 was set on his second bike equipped with a medium tyre after he crashed at turn four early doors - his first spill since Argentina last year.
Team-mate Valentino Rossi opted, like most of the field, for soft-option tyres all round to set the sixth-fastest time but it is telling he isn’t in Vinales’ ballpark yet. Alvaro Bautista was sitting pretty in third place earlier in the session but slipped back to seventh, staying in the top ten as the clock ticked down.
Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo clambered into the top ten with his 1’55.604 but only managed to improve on yesterday’s time by 0.003s and showed his displeasure with the lack of progress with a small dummy spit in the garage at session end. Marc Marquez ended the session in ninth place but his time of 1’54.912 keeps him second overall.
Aleix Espargaro ended FP2 in tenth but is well outside the top ten. Loris Baz’s time from yesterday keeps him on the cusp of an automatic qualifying two slot should it rain later on while Cal Crutchlow isn’t in the clear, posting a 1’55.829 in session two, two-tenths slower than his time from yesterday to go 12th overall.
Redding’s team-mate Danilo Petrucci was in the game early doors but slipped back to 11th on the day and 14th overall, just ahead of Jack Miller.
Ecstar Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone is still struggling on the GSX-R1000, sitting in 17th overall with his time from yesterday. Sam Lowes improved by more than a second overnight to set a 1’57.517 and is half a second ahead of Bradley Smith in 23rd.