During Free Practice it looked like the two factory Yamaha riders were going to go head-to-head after they ended the combined sheets first and second fastest. However, during qualifying, both Lorenzo and Marc Marquez were a cut above the rest. Repsol Honda’s Marquez took pole position thanks to a new fastest-ever lap but Lorenzo was only a tenth adrift. Everybody else, meanwhile, was over a half a second away from the two Spaniards at the front of the grid with Rossi starting from the back of row two. Damage limitation was going to be crucial for the nine-time World Champion come Sunday.