Following a strong closing stage to FP4, where Viñales secured first place, the Spaniard was in a good mindset to fire his YZR-M1 over the Spanish track during the 15-minute shoot-out. He was the second to last man out of the gates in Q2 and found some clear space when he appeared on track. He only needed a little bit of time to get up to speed, setting the provisional second fastest time on his second try, before heading back to pit lane to get a fresh set of tyres, with more than six and a half minutes on the clock.
Once back on the track, he was in the zone. The youngster, who was riding with a new design helmet to celebrate his home GP this weekend, put his head down again and posted a 1’47.635s to take over the top spot from his teammate, with 1m40s still on the clock. He had time for one more attempt, but his previous lap remained unbeaten, earning him his fifth pole of the season so far, with a 0.100s-advantage over his closest rival.
Rossi rode a superb FP3 session, securing tenth place, to promote directly to Q2 just 23 days after breaking his right leg. In the qualifying session the Italian steadily build up speed over his two first tries, but was unable to breach into the low 1’48s just yet. He held tenth place as he headed to the box, with slightly more than seven minutes to go.
A little while later, the Doctor was back in action and immediately dropped an impressive 1’47.815s for provisional pole, but was soon pushed down the order as various riders completed their last attempt. Rossi ended the day in third position, just 0.180s behind his teammate in first place.