Friday at the Gran Premio Lenovo di San Marino e della Riviera di Rimini saw the Yamahas rise back to the fore. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) were separated by just 0.009 on the combined times, but other riders who have tasted the rostrum in 2020 find themselves outside the all-important top 10.
Second in the Championship Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) sits P11, with the Team Suzuki Ecstar duo of Alex Rins - who is yet to podium this year - and Joan Mir currently occupying P13 and P15 at the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli, Johann Zarco (Esponsorama Racing) sits P14 between the silver and blue bullets. Further back, double Red Bull Ring podium finisher Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) was 17th fastest on Day 1.
Drawing complete conclusions from Friday’s running is naive. However, FP3 is now a huge session for these riders who all have realistic title ambitions in a monumentally unpredictable 2020 campaign. Dovizioso was ushered out of a top 10 place at end of play by Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Tech3), with both Rins and Mir slipping down the order in the latter stages having led for brief parts of FP2.
In his debrief, Mir explained that he encountered issues when he tried to go for the gung-ho lap on the soft tyre: “We don't have the leader’s pace right now, but I'm fast with a used tyre. It's not the best one but it's a good place to start on Friday. On my final exit with the soft tyre I had a problem with the bike and the electronics, so I couldn't stop the bike like I wanted to and I had such a big moment. But tomorrow in FP3, I'm sure we'll be strong.”
Teammate Rins admitted he suffered issues with stopping the bike, but a lot of laps on the same tyre means he and Mir are looking decent for Sunday’s race: “It was good but we had some problems stopping the bike. We did a lot of laps on the same tyres and we know a bit the route we need to take but we need to do some work.”
Elsewhere, Dovizioso didn’t enjoy his opening day at Misano. The Italian said the feeling with his bike was “so strange”, something he’s “never experienced before” but in the end, he and Ducati “aren’t that far despite the feeling he has” – so that’s some glimmer of hope.
All three Ducati riders who have reached the rostrum in 2020 will be hoping FP3 can provide them with the right conditions to penetrate the top 10 – the same goes for Suzuki's stars. Tune in for what promises to be a cracking 45 minutes at 09:55 local time (GMT+2).