With the new MotoGP qualifying regulations specifying that lap times from the first three practice sessions will now have a direct influence on qualifying, the second practice on Friday at Qatar began to resemble a qualifying session. Qualifying is now split into two 15-minute sessions, with the top ten quickest in practice going to QP2 to qualify for the first ten grid positions, and the rest going into QP1 (the top two qualifiers in QP1 automatically qualify for QP2). Thus, the last 15 minutes of Friday’s second MotoGP practice saw some frantic laps at Qatar as riders on the edge of the top ten sought to ensure they made the QP2 group.
At the leading edge of the Qatar MotoGP field, Repsol Honda rookie sensation Marc Marquez managed to squeak by Jorge Lorenzo’s time on the Yamaha Factory Racing M1, with Marquez’s final lap ending up just 0.001 second quicker. Lorenzo led the current triumvirate of Yamaha riders who have dominated the proceedings at Qatar so far, with Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow a few tenths behind, followed by Valentino Rossi on the other factory Yamaha MotoGP machine.
Andrea Dovisioso continued his surprising run of speed on the factory Ducati in fifth, with Marquez’s Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa continuing to struggle with corner entry problems just a thousandth of a second behind at Qatar. Alvaro Bautista on the GO&FUN Gresini Honda was seventh, followed by Nicky Hayden on the second factory Ducati GP13, with Crutchlow’s rookie teammate Bradley Smith coming in ninth quickest, and LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl just making the final QP2 position in tenth, just ahead of Pramac Ducati riders Andrea Iannone and Ben Spies. Iannone and Spies will surely be looking to lock in the final two spots available in QP2 MotoGP qualifying session.
MotoGP rookie sensation Marc...
MotoGP rookie sensation Marc Marquez just managed to squeak by Lorenzo for the quickest lap in FP3, but the Honda rider knows he's got a lot of work ahead.
Marquez was actually surprised by his lap time, and knows that the race will be an entirely different matter. While Marquez and the others could manage a few quick laps in the 1:56 range here and there at Qatar, Lorenzo was literally able to turn 1:56 laps at will, showing a crushingly consistent race pace that will make for a long night for the others if they don’t find something come the final MotoGP FP4 warmup or the qualifying sessions tomorrow.
“Practice today went pretty well—better than expected,” said Marquez after heading two out of three MotoGP practice sessions at Qatar so far. “I was very comfortable on the bike, and this is the important thing. Our foundation isn't bad at all, we are improving in every session and working with Sunday's race in mind. What we are missing is a bit of pace and consistency. We will have to make the most of the 30 minutes that we have before qualifying tomorrow to improve those points.”
Reigning MotoGP world champion...
Reigning MotoGP world champion Jorge Lorenzo was edged out by Marquez, but the Factory Yamaha Racing rider's consistent fast laps were something none of the others could match.
Lorenzo seemed to like the new MotoGP chassis that was tested at Jerez at Qatar, but the Majorcan is still undecided on whether to use it Sunday night. “I’m very happy with the changes we made on the bike because it improved a lot,” explained Lorenzo. “In the last moments the track was better this evening, in the beginning it was very dirty. I think we can still improve the bike more tomorrow, we still haven’t decided which chassis is better; today it is the new one, yesterday the old one. I’m very curious to see how the qualifying goes with the new formula, we will just be concentrating on making four fast laps, the maximum performance we can get.”
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Cal...
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow once again demonstrated that he's currently the best non-factory rider in the field by finishing in the top three on the timesheets once again.
Crutchlow felt the Qatar track conditions were still poor despite his lap time, and is looking in the final MotoGP sessions to improve his braking and rear grip on the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha M1. “The track was not in a good condition again tonight and it was very dirty but I am still happy with my performance and it is good to remain inside the top three. I was confident I'd be in the top 10 to move straight into QP2 and I am looking forward to the 15-minute session to decide places on the grid tomorrow night. I think it will be exciting for the fans and also for us because nobody will be hanging around. I felt comfortable on the bike again in the second session because we made a couple of changes earlier that didn't really work. I still need to improve in the braking zone and I'd like to improve the rear grip too, but I have been fast in every MotoGP session so far and that bodes well for the Qatar race on Sunday night.”
Valentino Rossi is still showing...
Valentino Rossi is still showing he's going to be in with a shot by coming fourth quickest despite suffering a severe headache.
Rossi was suffering the effects of a severe headache, but he still managed to come within 0.09 seconds of Crutchlow’s time in the third Qatar MotoGP practice. ““The practices are not so bad, we are continuing to work for the race. We still have to decide which tire to use; that will be very important for Sunday. We are ready for tomorrow for the qualifying practice to try and start as far in front as possible and aim for the front row. For the rest it’s not so bad, we continue to work and improve. Yesterday after the practice I had a problem with a very strong headache so I wasn’t at 100% today. Now I’m not so bad and coming better and tomorrow I will be at my maximum.”
MotoGP Qatar Friday practice results:
1. Marc Marquez (SPA) Honda 1:56.084
2. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Yamaha 1:56.085
3. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) Yamaha 1:56.326
4. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha 1:56.416
5. Andrea Dovisioso (ITA) Ducati 1:56.417
6. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Honda 1:56.502
7. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Honda 1:56.572
8. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati 1:56.670
9. Bradley Smith (GBR) Yamaha 1:56.901
10. Stefan Bradl (GER) Honda 1:56.984
11. Andrea Iannone (ITA) Ducati 1:57.169
12. Ben Spies (USA) Ducati 1:57.308
13. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) ART/Aprilia 1:57.420
14. Hector Barbera (SPA) FTR/Kawasaki 1:57.956
15. Yonny Hernandez (COL) ART/Aprilia 1:58.211
16. Randy De Puniet (FRA) ART/Aprilia 1:58.396
17. Colin Edwards (USA) FTR/Kawasaki 1:58.863
18. Karel Abraham (CZE) ART/Aprilia 1:59.180
19. Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) FTR/Kawasaki 1:59.212
20. Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Ioda/BMW 1:59.755
21. Bryan Staring (AUS) FTR/Honda 1:59.758
22. Lukas Pesek (CZE) Ioda/BMW 1:59.837
23. Michael Laverty (GBR) ART/Aprilia 2:00.080
24. Claudio Corti (ITA) FTR/Kawasaki 2:00.439