The same man who led Friday free practice last week at Phillip Island – Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins – was the top rider once again this Friday at Sepang for the Shell Malaysia Motorcycle Grand Prix – the final race in three back-to-back rounds.But Rins didn’t run away with the top time during the unexpected dry conditions at the penultimate round of 2018 MotoGP. When you combine times the two riders that followed him were all within a tenth of a second of each other:
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), -0.089
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), -0.093
Marquez, who was crowned 2018 MotoGP Champion two weeks ago at Twin Ring Motegi in Japan, was followed by Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi. The nine-time World Champion trailed by 0.159 of a second, and was the four different factory rider in the top four.Though rain threatened the sessions, the MotoGP grid was able to get in two full 45-minute free-practice sessions in.The riders that followed Rossi were as close as the top three. Finishing just behind Rossi to claim fifth was Alma Pramac Racing Ducati’s Jack Miller, who was followed by Phillip Island winner Maverick Vinales on the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP YZR-M1.Rounding out the top 10 were Alma Pramac Racing Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci, Monster Energy Yamaha’s Johann Zarco, Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Andrea Iannone, and Aprilia Racing Team’s Aleix Espargaro.After missing the last two rounds due to an injury from the Thailand round Ducati Team’s Jorge Lorenzo returned to the grid Friday. The Spaniard struggled on the GP18, and was over three seconds off the pace. His team will assess his fitness Saturday ahead of qualifying.Heading into Saturday, the top-six riders are covered by just 0.203 of a second. Qualifying beginning at 3:10 a.m. ET, and Sunday’s 20-lap race is set for 2 a.m. ET. One of the favorites will surely be Dovizioso, who dominated last year’s GP in Malaysia.