Jorge Martin got the Qatar MotoGP Grand Prix event started in the best way possible by leading the opening test of the weekend, while championship leader Francesco Bagnaia was third.
The 22 riders present at the Lusail International Circuit took things easy in the opening phase of FP1, the track incredibly dusty following torrential downpours the night before that left dirt around the venue.
Laptimes were around eight seconds off the expected race times, with Martin soon finding his way to the top on a 1:58.235s.
The track cleaned up and rubbered in as the session progressed though, with Malaysian GP victor Enea Bastianini the first to dip below the 1:58s mark.
As the session reached its climax, the under-pressure Fabio Di Gianantonio ramped up the pace as he set two consecutive fastest lap, his final effort of 1:56.830s leaving him well clear at the top of the pile.
Keen to begin the weekend as he meant to go on, Martin soon shattered the Gresini rider’s resolve to post a 1:56.393s gambit, a time good enough to secure FP1 honors as the chequered flag brought the session to a close.
Martin’s Pramac Ducati team-mate Johann Zarco improved to lap just 0.172s behind to claim second, with Bagnaia moving up third late on a further half-a-tenth back.
RNF Aprilia’s Raul Fernandez impressed in the early evening glow of the Qatari sun to claim fourth ahead of Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli.
VR46 Ducati’s Luca Marini ended up sixth, while Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro brushed off an early crash at Turn 14 to end the opening test of the event seventh.
Di Gianantonio was shuffled back to eighth in the final order ahead of GasGas’ Pol Espargaro, while KTM’s Brad Binder rounded off the top ten just ahead of Fabio Quartararo’s Yamaha.
Honda once again started the weekend on the back foot from the off, the RC213V quartet making up the final four places on the leaderboard. Joan Mir ended up the fastest of the Honda contingent ahead of Marc Marquez, with Iker Lecuona getting the better of Takaaki Nakagami in the battle of the LCRs.
Double Malaysian rostrum finisher Alex Marquez had a tricky session after crashing at Turn 4 in the early stages, the Spaniard ending up 16th in the final classification just ahead of Bastianini. Augusto Fernandez also went down during the session, the GasGas rider another to fall victim to Turn 14 in the closing stanza.