Image courtesy of MotoGP
Pit lane opened at 09:00 this morning, ostensibly to enable teams catch flights back to Bangkok, but also catching an extra 30 minutes of cool air and asphalt.
At 11:00, Zarco fulfilled the pledge he made for Sunday and went top with 1:29.994, more than half a second clear of Rossi and Vinales, who are continuing to experiment with electronics to give them better acceleration. Zarco’s bike is largely unchanged from 2017, so, in a testing environment, has the advantage of familiarity over the factory riders.
Jack Miller continues to work well on the Alma Pramac Ducati, putting himself within a few hundredths of the top spot as riders work to follow Marquez into the 1:29s. by 10:30 he was sitting in a group of five riders within one tenth of a second of 1:30.
Alex Rins was again in the top group, declaring himself happy with the Suzuki’s aero package. The men in blue seem to have found a package that keeps the front wheel down without sacrificing top speed, though Rins did have a small crash early on.
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s rookie, Hafizh Syahrin was back at work after over-estimating his Michelins on an outlap and launching himself over the high-side for his first crash in the premier class. The Malaysian brought his lap times down further, breaking into the 1:31s before midday. Marc VDS rookie, Franco Morbidelli was similarly caught cold yesterday. The tyre company has been experimenting with the carcass and compounds they made for Austria in 2017, though consensus for now is that the tyre won’t last race distance.
Tito Rabat put in his bid for worker of the day, by clocking up 52 laps before 11:30.
The circuit is also experimenting with the layouts of the pit exit and entry, following a meeting of the safety commission, which picked up concerns made by other visiting promoters about the risk of riders exiting the pits being hit by bikes crashing at Turn 1 and about the somewhat awkward position of pit entry, which was changed last year following an inspection by the FIM.
A competition for outright fast laps is expected from around 15:00 as riders look to put down late markers ahead of the final pre-season test in Qatar.