Aleix Espargaro pace setter as MotoGP opens

Aleix Espargaro fastest in opeing practice in Qatar

Aleix Espargaro fastest in opeing practice in Qatar

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).

Jack Miller third fastest in Moto3

Jack Miller third fastest in Moto3

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

Pos. Num. Rider Nation Team Bike Km/h Time Gap 1st/Prev.
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

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