Martin tops Qatar MotoGP FP1

Jorge Martin was fastest in MotoGP FP1 in Qatar. Image: Supplied

Jorge Martin was fastest in MotoGP FP1 in Qatar. Image: Supplied

Pramac Racing’s Jorge Martin has set the quickest lap in Free Practice 1 for the penultimate round of the 2023 MotoGP season in Qatar.

The man who is currently second in the standings went as quick as a 1:56.393s in a late-afternoon session at Lusail, leaving him two positions and 0.229s up on the best set by championship leader Francesco Bagnaia.

Martin’s team-mate Johann Zarco split the two title contenders in an all-Ducati top three, with Raul Fernandez fourth on his RNF Aprilia.

Raul Fernandez had been fastest after the first flyers before Martin clocked a 1:58.626s and a 1:58.235s on consecutive laps, with a soft front Michelin tyre and medium rear on his Desmosedici.

Aprilia Racing’s Aleix Espargaro, meanwhile, crashed early at Turn 14 before Alex Marquez dropped his Gresini Ducati at Turn 4, 10 minutes into the 45-minute session.

Alex Marquez’s team-mate, Fabio Di Giannantonio, was next to move the marker, to a 1:58.019s with a hard rear Michelin tyre.

Ducati Team duo Enea Bastianini and Bagnaia had hard tyres front and rear when the former then clocked a 1:57.982s and then the latter a 1:57.936s before the end of their first runs.

Despite running a used hard rear tyre, Di Giannantonio improved to a 1:57.818s on the half-hour mark, followed by a 1:57.475s and a 1:56.830s on his next two laps.

Martin had headed back out with a new hard front and new medium rear for his final run, reclaiming top spot with a 1:56.393s.

Bagnaia continued to pound around on the same hard Michelin tyres as he moved up to second on a 1:56.780s in the final minute, only to be pipped by Zarco’s 1:56.565s.

With the chequered flag out, Bagnaia consolidated third with a 1:56.622s.

Behind Raul Fernandez in fourth on the timesheet was Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha), from Luca Marini (VR46 Ducati), Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing), Di Giannantonio, Pol Espargaro (GasGas Tech3), and Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM) at 0.501s away from top spot.

Jack Miller ended up 0.667s off the pace in 13th on a Red Bull KTM sporting new rear bodywork.

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