Marini’s time is significantly faster than last year’s pole lap and the Italian was the first of eleven riders who matched or bettered that 2018 1:41.925, with Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) in P11 setting exactly the same laptime as Lorenzo Baldassarri did to take that pole.
It wasn’t just the speed that was impressive after Wednesday’s action ended, though – the incredibly tight timesheets make for good reading ahead of the season. Behind Marini leading the way, Iker Lecuona was second fastest on the American Racing KTM machine, just 0.081 in arrears, with Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) completing the top three and only a further 0.059 back. Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) followed and was just under a tenth slower, with the top five completed by Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) by just 0.002 seconds.
Jorge Navarro (+Ego Speed Up) in sixth is the first to break the Kalex and KTM stronghold on the top echelons, putting his Speed Up 0.146 off the top five. Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) was next up in seventh, ahead of Lorenzo Baldassarri (FlexBox HP 40) by just 0.010, with Moto2™ returner Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP) acclimatising well to the season in P9. Australian Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) completed the top ten. And then came the rookies…
Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) impressed in P11 as he gets back on a Moto2™ machine after his struggles with injury over winter, the fastest newcomer to the class, with fellow rookie Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) 0.041 in arrears. Vierge completed the eleven men faster than the 2018 pole position, with Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team) and Tetsuta Nagashima (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) completing the top 15.
Bo Bendsneyder (NTS RW Racing GP) impressed to set a 1:42.191 – the fastest NTS – as he returns from injury, and Dominique Aegerter (MV Agusta Idealavoro Forward) was the fastest of the MV Agustas, putting in a 1:42.510.
Joe Roberts (American Racing KTM) suffered a crash, as did Lowes, Bendsneyder, British rookie Jake Dixon (Angel Nieto Team) and Marco Bezzecchi (Red Bull KTM Tech3).
In Moto3™, Tony Arbolino (Snipers Team) went quickest but he had some close company at the top as rookie Sergio Garcia (Estrella Galicia 0,0) stormed to second, 0.045 off P1, and Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3) completed a top three covered by just 0.094.
Next up was Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) to make it four Hondas in the top four, with Jaume Masia (Bester Capital Dubai) the fastest KTM machine as he locked out the top five. Tatsuki Suzuki (SIC58 Squadra Corse) continued the Honda domination of the top ten in sixth, just ahead of returning competitor Romano Fenati (Snipers Team). Rookie Ai Ogura (Honda Team Asia), despite a crash, and sophomore Alonso Lopez (Estrella Galicia 0,0) were P8 and P9 respectively, also on Hondas, with reigning FIM CEV Repsol Moto3™ Junior World Champion Raul Fernandez (Angel Nieto Team) the second KTM in a top ten he completed.
Veteran Czech rider Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP) was P11, with John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing), Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) and Albert Arenas (Angel Nieto Team) rounding out the fastest fifteen.
Action continues tomorrow at Jerez, keep up to date with everything from reports to live timing on motogp.com!