Welcome to the GP with the longest name in recorded history, the Gran Premio Tribul MasterCard di San Marino & della Riviera di Rimini held at the circuit with the longest name, the Misano World Circuit Marco Simoncelli. Wish I was still paid by the word.
It’s a strange track, with too many low-gear corners plus one of the fastest of the year. It’s about 60 miles from Bologna, yet Ducati have never done particularly well here. It is in Valentino Rossi’s back yard, but the great man will not be gracing us with his presence, and why would he want a recently pinned limb interfered with by thousands of fans? And there are thousands here, all of them in the paddock and none of them in the stands yet.
The big question is what can Ducati do here? Will Dovizioso now have the hearts and minds of the Valiban? How loudly will they boo Lorenzo or Marquez if either wins? Needless to say, Marc Marquez started fast but had a small fall and the Ducati sneaked up on him. The Yamaha of Maverick Vinales waited until the end of the afternoon session to show his hand and go second behind Petrucci. Maverick has two of the new chassis, first tested here at Misano, this weekend as Valentino won’t be using the one he had at Silverstone.
Keep an eye on two people who could have a big say in Sunday’s race: last year’s winner Dani Pedrosa put together the best run of the day, and wild-card Michele Pirro, Ducati’s test rider, has been quick from the off.
It looks like rain on race day so the extra bike-swap practice was welcome. Ducati still managed to mess it up though. In fact only one team looked like they had a proper plan. You guessed – Repsol Honda.