And so the picture becomes a little clearer. The Ducatis are still fast but have lost the domination they showed here last year and Honda and Yamaha have got a lot better. Actually, scrub that. Yamaha and Marc Marquez have got a lot better. Marc’s pole lap was right out of his shock-and-awe playbook and both factory Ducatis plus Petrucci, ie all the 2017 bikes, used the aero fairing. Maverick Vinales wasn’t far away, and Johann Marco has looked fast all weekend.
Thankfully it does not look as if it’s going to rain tomorrow, which will hopefully avoid a Misano ’89 style strike by some riders who consider the Red Bull Ring dangerous at the best of times and worse in the wet when the glass like braking zones are added to the Armco. Aleix Espargaro, a friend of Luis Salom, is the most vocal critic but he is not alone.
We knew when we came here last year that a couple of corners needed improving, much like when MotoGP came back to Laguna Seca. At the Dry Lake, modifications were made for the second year. Nothing has been done at the Red Bull Ring.
Assuming all is well on the weather front, tyre choice will be vital, as usual. Dovizioso didn’t use a soft rear today, he went with a medium, but it was cooler than Friday and the few degrees extra expected tomorrow will make a difference. This track is also very heavy on fuel. Some riders are talking about the race being won on strategy. They don’t just mean tyre choice.