Aleix Espargaro pace setter as MotoGP opens
Aleix Espargaro has led a somewhat surprising first practice for the season opening Qatar MotoGP.
In the first Grand Prix practice session of the new ‘Open’ class era it was the NGM Forward Racing rider with his Open entry Forward with a 1’55.201 best lap, with Alvaro Baustista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini) and Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech3) second and third respectively.
Espargaro’s pace was over 0.3s slower than he went in testing here two weeks ago. The day was not without incident for him as he received a fine for speeding in the pit lane.
At the start of his second season in MotoGP Smith was third by a 0.6s margin, with Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing) and rookie Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech3) also in top five as the riders who tested in Qatar occupying the top end of the timesheet. The younger Espargaro brother appears to be riding smoothly despite his collarbone injury sustained ten days ago at this track.
Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) were the quickest Factory riders in sixth and seventh, whilst the top ten was completed by Colin Edwards (NGM Forward Racing), Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) and Nicky Hayden (Drive M7 Aspar).
World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was 11th as he tested his fitness after breaking his right leg in preseason, whilst Yonny Hernandez (Energy T.I. Pramac Racing) finished 15th and went for a scan after walking away from a turn 16 crash which caused a brief red flag due to track debris.
Australia’s Broc Parkes was 22nd on the time sheets on his Paul Bird Motorsport machine.
Better news in Moto3 with Jack Miller third fastest on the day aboard the Red Bull KTM Ajo machine behind Romano Fenati (SKY Racing Team VR46) and Jakub Kornfeil (Calvo Team).
”I’ve found good settings for the KTM. During the first session I did not feel comfortable, not with myself or with the bike, but in the second run we improved that,” said Miller.
“We still have work to do, but we also still have time. Undoubtedly it will be a very tough and difficult week, because there are many riders going fast, but I am confident that we can get better.”
TIMES: Free Practice 1 – Qatar MotoGP – Losail
|1||41||Aleix ESPARGARO||SPA||NGM Forward Racing||Forward Yamaha||336.1||1’55.201|
|2||19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||SPA||GO&FUN Honda Gresini||Honda||342.9||1’55.667||0.466 / 0.466|
|3||38||Bradley SMITH||GBR||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||337.3||1’55.816||0.615 / 0.149|
|4||29||Andrea IANNONE||ITA||Pramac Racing||Ducati||345.7||1’55.996||0.795 / 0.180|
|5||44||Pol ESPARGARO||SPA||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||346.0||1’56.020||0.819 / 0.024|
|6||26||Dani PEDROSA||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||344.0||1’56.332||1.131 / 0.312|
|7||46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||340.4||1’56.542||1.341 / 0.210|
|8||5||Colin EDWARDS||USA||NGM Forward Racing||Forward Yamaha||332.1||1’56.626||1.425 / 0.084|
|9||99||Jorge LORENZO||SPA||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||340.0||1’56.668||1.467 / 0.042|
|10||69||Nicky HAYDEN||USA||Drive M7 Aspar||Honda||328.6||1’56.670||1.469 / 0.002|
|11||93||Marc MARQUEZ||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||344.4||1’56.682||1.481 / 0.012|
|12||6||Stefan BRADL||GER||LCR Honda MotoGP||Honda||342.4||1’56.726||1.525 / 0.044|
|13||35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||GBR||Ducati Team||Ducati||339.7||1’57.046||1.845 / 0.320|
|14||4||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||340.4||1’57.100||1.899 / 0.054|
|15||68||Yonny HERNANDEZ||COL||Energy T.I. Pramac Racing||Ducati||340.8||1’57.623||2.422 / 0.523|
|16||17||Karel ABRAHAM||CZE||Cardion AB Motoracing||Honda||330.0||1’57.779||2.578 / 0.156|
|17||7||Hiroshi AOYAMA||JPN||Drive M7 Aspar||Honda||329.9||1’58.182||2.981 / 0.403|
|18||8||Hector BARBERA||SPA||Avintia Racing||Avintia||324.6||1’58.394||3.193 / 0.212|
|19||45||Scott REDDING||GBR||GO&FUN Honda Gresini||Honda||324.4||1’58.495||3.294 / 0.101|
|20||63||Mike DI MEGLIO||FRA||Avintia Racing||Avintia||324.6||1’58.732||3.531 / 0.237|
|21||9||Danilo PETRUCCI||ITA||IodaRacing Project||ART||327.3||1’59.321||4.120 / 0.589|
|22||23||Broc PARKES||AUS||Paul Bird Motorsport||PBM||321.4||1’59.328||4.127 / 0.007|
|70||Michael LAVERTY||GBR||Paul Bird Motorsport||PBM|