Yamaha executives were surely smiling after Thurday’s opening practice for the Qatar MotoGP race, as YZR-M1 riders swept the top three spots, separated by a mere 0.071 seconds. Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo managed to grab the top spot on the leaderboard with less than two minutes to go in the session, his 1:56.685 lap time pushing Monster Tech 3 Yamaha’s Cal Crutchlow off the top after the British satellite Yamaha team rider had held the point for the final 10 minutes of the opening MotoGP practice at Qatar. Crutchlow’s ascendance had pushed a resurgent Valentino Rossi from the top, with the Italian holding the top spot for the latter half of the session. Another half second back came Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez, with Ducati’s Andrea Dovisioso managing to keep GO&FUN Gresini Honda’s Alvaro Bautista, LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl, and teammate Dani Pedrosa at bay.
The Qatar MotoGP lap times were slower than usual due to the recurring problem at the Doha circuit of wind blowing sand across the track, which negatively affected grip levels in any area that was off the racing line. Adding to the problem at Qatar was construction going on at a nearby site, which contributed to the dust levels during MotoGP practice.
Yamaha Factory Racing's Jorge...
Yamaha Factory Racing's Jorge Lorenzo was once again atop the timesheets at the end of FP1 on Thursday at Qatar.
“To start in this way, having three Yamahas in the top three positions is a very good way to start because this means that the track is good for our plans,” said Lorenzo after the first MotoGP practice at Qatar. “I started in a quite easy way, the lap time came quite easily, so this is good. We need to improve three aspects; the track for sure will improve, and then the bike and my riding. Tomorrow we will try the new chassis here.”
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Cal...
Monster Tech 3 Yamaha's Cal Crutchlow continued his momentum from Jerez by going second quickest on a satellite Yamaha at Qatar FP1.
Second quickest Crutchlow knows that as the Qatar track gets better, the times will fall and the MotoGP pack with tighten up, so he’s not getting overly excited about his practice performance. “We’re getting used to the track condition, it’s a little bit slippery off line. The braking points are always different, we had a tailwind this evening so it made things quite difficult. I’m happy enough…but I’m not taking too much from it, I’m not getting excited; I think we maybe got a little bit lucky, but tomorrow we’ll see, try some new settings and hopefully it’s a lot better.”
Valentino Rossi is proving...
Valentino Rossi is proving that he hasn't lost his competitive edge by going third quickest after heading the practice sheets for most of the day.
“Yes, is a great start for us,” said a happy Rossi after going third quickest in the Qatar MotoGP opening practice. “We have to confirm the improvement from the different setting from Jerez. And also here the bike was very good from the beginning. I can stay at the first position for a long time. And already the lap time is not so bad; now we have to wait for the condition of the track to improve practice by practice, so we have to follow the increase in grip with the setting but we can work on the small details and I can work on my riding, on the better line, but we are already strong.”
MotoGP Qatar Thursday FP1 results:
1. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Yamaha 1:56.685
2. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) Yamaha 1:56.743
3. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha 1:56.756
4. Marc Marquez (SPA) Honda 1:57.276
5. Andrea Dovisioso (ITA) Ducati 1:57.538
6. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Honda 1:57.601
7. Stefan Bradl (GER) Honda 1:57.670
8. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Honda 1:57.749
9. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) ART/Aprilia 1:57.843
10. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati 1:57.926
11. Bradley Smith (GBR) Yamaha 1:58.369
12. Andrea Iannone (ITA) Ducati 1:58.559
13. Ben Spies (USA) Ducati 1:58.575
14. Hector Barbera (SPA) FTR/Kawasaki 1:59.608
15. Randy De Puniet (FRA) ART/Aprilia 1:59.633
16. Karel Abraham (CZE) ART/Aprilia 1:59.758
17. Colin Edwards (USA) FTR/Kawasaki 2:00.341
18. Yonny Hernandez (COL) ART/Aprilia 2:00.426
19. Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) FTR/Kawasaki 2:00.563
20. Claudio Corti (ITA) FTR/Kawasaki 2:01.227
21. Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Ioda/BMW 2:01.438
22. Bryan Staring (AUS) FTR/Honda 2:01.942
23. Lukas Pesek (CZE) Ioda/BMW 2:02.079
24. Michael Laverty (GBR) ART/Aprilia 2:02.135