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.
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
|1||Aleix Espargaro||Forward Yamaha||1m54.989s||13|
|3||Alvaro Bautista||Gresini Honda||1m55.446s||+0.457s||17|
|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|
|10||Andrea Iannone||Pramac Ducati||1m56.006s||+1.017s||17|
|12||Colin Edwards||Forward Yamaha||1m56.238s||+1.249s||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
|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|
|6||Bradley Smith||Tech 3 Yamaha||1m55.474s||+0.701s||15|
|8||Stefan Bradl||LCR Honda||1m55.676s||+0.903s||18|
|11||Pol Espargaro||Tech 3 Yamaha||1m55.793s||+1.020s||19|
|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|