Is this the race where the Open Class Yamaha of Aleix Espargaro gets to take advantage of the rules? Could be. He used the soft tyre today to be fastest and to set a new absolute lap record in the warmer afternoon practice. He only just lost out to his little brother Pol in the morning session which saw Yamahas of various types fill five of the top six places. The interloper was the Honda of - you guessed - Marc Marquz in fourth. With track temperature under 20 degrees C it felt like a throwback to the times when the Hondas needed a hot track to grip rather than spin.
This afternoon the track was well over 30 degrees C and the factory Hondas looked happier, although Aleix disposed of them with a time that bettered Casey Stoner's 2012 pole lap. Impressive, especially as he may be able to use the softer tyre for the race, although yet again rain is forecast for some time on Saturday.
That's not the only thing that feels a bit like Catalunya and Mugello. This is not a track that rewards Marquez's curb cutting and hard braking, plus there are only a couple of slow corners and no long straight. Espargaro's Forward Yamaha is usually seriously embarrassed when top speed is an issue; no problem here. As usual, an examination of the lap times shows Jorge Lorenzo put together a long run that promises good race pace.
Jorge and Valentino Rossi know only too well that if they can't beat the Hondas here, it's going to be a while before they get another chance.