Espargaro completes shock practice sweep

Aleix Espargaro set the pace in Qatar

Aleix Espargaro set the pace in Qatar

Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro continued to upset the MotoGP pecking order as he topped both Friday practice sessions at the season opening Qatar Grand Prix.

The Spaniard completed a practice clean sweep as he ended the day with a personal best lap time of 1:54.773s on board his Open class Yamaha.

Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone was second fastest a full four tenths of a second slower than Espargaro, while the Gresini Honda of Alvaro Bautista was third.

The factory outfits appeared to struggle at the Losail circuit with the smaller teams holding an advantage, virtue of their pre-season test at the venue two weeks ago.

Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso was the leading factory rider in fourth just ahead of the Honda shod reigning world champion Marc Marquez, who continues his recovery from a broken leg.

Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo looked destined for Q1 participation as he spent the majority of the sessions outside the top 10. However, the former world champion pulled out a time late on to move into seventh spot.

Lorenzo was just behind Monster Yamaha’s Bradley Smith, who was lucky to walk away from a nasty high side unscathed.

Honda’s Dani Pedrosa was eighth in front of Stefan Bradl, while Valentino Rossi rounded out the top 10 when times were combined. Both Pedrosa and Rossi entered the top 10 with efforts in the final minutes.

Pol Espargaro on the Monster Yamaha and Ducati’s Cal Crutchlow were the big names to miss out on securing an automatic place in Q2.

Australian Broc Parkes was 19th fastest on his Paul Bird Motorsport machine.

Jack Miller

Jack Miller

Meanwhile in Moto 3, Australian Jack Miller made a positive start to his season after setting the fourth fastest time in the final practice session.

The Red Bull KTM Ajo rider was just 0.159s adrift of the benchmark time set by Romano Fenati.

”It was a good day,” said Miller

“Whenever I’m more comfortable with the bike, we are setting consistent laps. I am very satisfied with the work done, because even with used tyres the feeling is still great. We only put new rubber on for the final two laps and it was fine.

“We need to work a little more on the front grip to stabilise the bike a little more, but I am confident with the bike we have now and I think that we can do a good job.”

Free Practice 2 – MotoGP – Qatar

Pos Rider Team Time Gap Laps
1 Aleix Espargaro Forward Yamaha 1m54.989s 13
2 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 1m55.320s +0.331s 16
3 Alvaro Bautista Gresini Honda 1m55.446s +0.457s 17
4 Dani Pedrosa Honda 1m55.562s +0.573s 18
5 Marc Marquez Honda 1m55.607s +0.618s 16
6 Bradley Smith Tech 3 Yamaha 1m55.650s +0.661s 18
7 Stefan Bradl LCR Honda 1m55.856s +0.867s 17
8 Pol Espargaro Tech 3 Yamaha 1m55.913s +0.924s 15
9 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1m55.984s +0.995s 18
10 Andrea Iannone Pramac Ducati 1m56.006s +1.017s 17
11 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1m56.172s +1.183s 17
12 Colin Edwards Forward Yamaha 1m56.238s +1.249s 16
13 Cal Crutchlow Ducati 1m56.720s +1.731s 16
14 Nicky Hayden Aspar Honda 1m57.006s +2.017s 14
15 Yonny Hernandez Pramac Ducati 1m57.119s +2.130s 14
16 Scott Redding Gresini Honda 1m57.296s +2.307s 15
17 Karel Abraham Cardion Honda 1m57.368s +2.379s 13
18 Hiroshi Aoyama Aspar Honda 1m57.634s +2.645s 19
19 Hector Barbera Avintia FTR-Kawasaki 1m58.290s +3.301s 12
20 Mike di Meglio Avintia FTR-Kawasaki 1m58.410s +3.421s 13
21 Broc Parkes PBM Aprilia 1m58.436s +3.447s 12
22 Danilo Petrucci Ioda Aprilia 1m59.078s +4.089s 15
23 Michael Laverty PBM Aprilia 1m59.646s +4.657s 10

Free Practice 3 – MotoGP – Qatar

Pos Rider Team Time Gap Laps
1 Aleix Espargaro Forward Yamaha 1m54.773s 15
2 Andrea Iannone Pramac Ducati 1m55.186s +0.413s 19
3 Alvaro Bautista Gresini Honda 1m55.240s +0.467s 17
4 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 1m55.250s +0.477s 15
5 Marc Marquez Honda 1m55.446s +0.673s 16
6 Bradley Smith Tech 3 Yamaha 1m55.474s +0.701s 15
7 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1m55.495s +0.722s 14
8 Stefan Bradl LCR Honda 1m55.676s +0.903s 18
9 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1m55.702s +0.929s 17
10 Dani Pedrosa Honda 1m55.754s +0.981s 16
11 Pol Espargaro Tech 3 Yamaha 1m55.793s +1.020s 19
12 Cal Crutchlow Ducati 1m56.013s +1.240s 16
13 Nicky Hayden Aspar Honda 1m56.357s +1.584s 15
14 Colin Edwards Forward Yamaha 1m56.373s +1.600s 17
15 Yonny Hernandez Pramac Ducati 1m56.633s +1.860s 15
16 Hiroshi Aoyama Aspar Honda 1m56.939s +2.166s 18
17 Scott Redding Gresini Honda 1m56.997s +2.224s 16
18 Karel Abraham Cardion Honda 1m57.345s +2.572s 14
19 Broc Parkes PBM Aprilia 1m57.665s +2.892s 13
20 Mike di Meglio Avintia FTR-Kawasaki 1m58.204s +3.431s 13
21 Hector Barbera Avintia FTR-Kawasaki 1m58.219s +3.446s 12
22 Michael Laverty PBM Aprilia 1m58.378s +3.605s 13
23 Danilo Petrucci Ioda Aprilia 1m58.651s +3.878s 18


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