Jorge Martin swept the practice sessions on Friday at the Chang International Circuit to lead the way into the pole shootout, while title rival Francesco Bagnaia was seventh.
The Pramac Ducati pilot continued his recent scintillating form as the MotoGP circus arrived in Thailand as he led the way in FP1 by a narrow margin over Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales, while Bagnaia lapped nearly a second adrift in tenth.
Martin continued to look the faster of the two Ducati riders on Friday afternoon as he continually found himself within the top five in the 60-minute session, although Alex Marquez led the way early on with a time a couple-tenths-of-a-second adrift of Martin’s FP1 effort.
Brad Binder was the first rider to dip below Martin’s morning benchmark of 1:30.520s, the KTM man banging in a 1:30.247s as the session raced towards its conclusion.
Vinales would then move back to the fore as he lapped underneath the 1:30 bracket for the first time, though Martin would get the last laugh. His 1:29.826s posted just moments later would ultimately be enough to keep him up top as the session ended, his chances improved due to a yellow flag he caused.
Keen to further extend his advantage out front, Martin kept pushing on his follow-up tour. He asked a little too much of his Ducati into the heavy braking zone of Turn 3 though and lost the front, sliding off into the gravel. The resulting yellow flags meant that most behind would end up losing their final attempts.
Vinales would thus finish up second, the Spaniard 0.098s away from Martin and only 0.062s clear of team-mate Aleix Espargaro in third.
Australian GP victor Johann Zarco ended the day fourth overall on the other Pramac entry, while Luca Marini rounded off the top five on his VR46-run Ducati.
The Italian’s team-mate Marco Bezzecchi was up next in sixth just ahead of Bagnaia, who managed to find a decent time improvement in the latter stages to end the day just 0.243s down on his championship rival.
Fabio Quartararo enjoyed an encouraging day to end up just two-and-a-half tenths away from the ultimate pace, while KTM’s Binder and GasGas’ Augusto Fernandez completed a top ten covered by just 0.304s.
Marc Marquez was the first man to miss out on an automatic Q2 berth, the Honda pilot lapping half-a-tenth away from Fernandez to end off the day 11th just ahead of the other Yamaha of Franco Morbidelli.
Jack Miller was 13th for KTM ahead of recent form-man Fabio Di Gianantonio. FP2 saw the field spread across a very narrow margin, with 18th-placed Alex Marquez just 0.541s away from Martin’s benchmark.