Rossi showed he meant business as FP1 got underway in the afternoon. Feeling comfortable right from the start, it wasn’t long before he breached into the top-3. He kept up his competitive pace throughout the session and briefly topped the timesheets with a 1’55.723s. He finished in second place, clocking a 1’55.427s, just 0.061s from the top.
The lowering temperatures in the evening made it difficult for the riders to keep their rhythm in the second free practice session, but the Doctor was hungry for improvement. Riding under the floodlights, he put his head down and battled for a top ten position in the ranking order. His best time, a 1’54.853s, earned him ninth place, 0.492s behind today’s leader.
Viñales had a busy afternoon session. When he took to the track it soon became clear that, with small margins separating the riders, he had no time to lose to fine-tune his Yamaha. He completed three runs to test various setting options and increased his speed at the very end. He ended FP1 in 11th position with a 1’56.130s lap, 0.764s from first.
The Spaniard pushed on in FP2 and made the 45 minutes count. He kept up with the pace, breaching into the 1’55s-laps. He steadily improved his time, but the setting he tried in the afternoon didn’t give him the same feeling in the cooler conditions. He ended the session in 11th place, posting a fastest lap of 1’55.195s, 0.834s from the front.
Today’s FP1 and FP2 results see Rossi and Viñales also take 9th and 11th position respectively in the combined results. Tomorrow they will be back on track from 14:35 – 15:20 local track time (GMT+3) for Free Practice 3, followed by Free Practice 4 from 18:40 – 19:10 and the qualifying sessions from 19:20 – 20:00.