Rossi had already shown he was comfortable on his Yamaha YZR-M1 in the morning practice session and felt he was up to the task to challenge his rivals for a position on the front row. The Doctor left pit lane mid-field and quickly found a good place on track to start his first flying lap, claiming fourth on his first attempt. Unable to improve on his second try, he returned to the box with six and a half minutes remaining.
He was pushed down to fifth place, but this was short-lived, as Jorge Lorenzo’s time was cancelled due to exceeding track limits. One and a half minutes later, Rossi was back out for his second run and, as many riders flashed red sectors, the nine-time World Champion responded brilliantly. He set a 1’55.073s, 0.092s from pole, on his third time attack, and will start tomorrow’s race from second place on the front row.
Viñales was keen to earn a strong starting position during the 15-minute qualifying heat. He ensured he was one of the last men heading out of pit lane as the session began, to get enough clear space on track to really put the hammer down. His first flying lap had him shoot up directly to sixth place. Though he improved his time on his second hot lap, he dropped to seventh before quickly returning to the box with six minutes on the clock.
The young gun found himself back in sixth place one minute later as he rejoined the track. As many riders put in a fast time, he held ninth place when he put in another solid effort. He bettered his time to 1’55.911s to secure seventh place on the grid for the race, but again wasn’t able to hold the spot and slipped back to eighth. The Spaniard made his final try count as the flag came out. His time dropped to a 1’55.663s with his final push, 0.682s from first, enough to secure seventh position on tomorrow’s grid.