Viñales stayed true to his usual strategy and soon put his Yamaha in first place in FP1. Making the most of the perfectly dry conditions, he worked on tweaking the bike's setting and then upped his game on a soft-soft combination towards the end of the session with a 1‘59.218s. The lap earned him third place, ending 0.191s from the top.
Confident in his morning lap time, the Spaniard fully focused on making progress with his bike's dry set-up during FP2. He tried various settings and tyre options in case of a dry race on Sunday. He was one of the few riders not to put in soft tyres at the end of the afternoon session but still clocked an under the 2m-mark lap, a 1'59.845s, taking ninth in the FP2 results, 1.269s from first. His fastest morning lap put him in fourth place in the combined FP timesheets.
Rossi had been strong in Sepang last year and it was clear from the get-go that he meant business again in Malaysia this weekend. He set a solid pace, spending most of the session in fourth and sixth place, but really put his game face on in the final minutes. He upped the ante on a double soft-tyre combination, setting a 1‘59.893s for provisional first. However, as the pace quickened at the end of FP1, he was moved to eighth, 0.866s from first.
It remained dry for the afternoon session, allowing the Doctor to make further strides. He was in fourth place again when a mini time attack started with a little less than 10 minutes to go. The Italian was ready for the challenge and responded by setting a 1‘59.284s. His time was fast enough to put him in third place in the FP2 and in fifth position in the combined free practice results, 0.708s from the top.