– Marquez tops Qatar Day Two
Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Márquez beat Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo by one thousandth of a second to top the final day of MotoGP™ practice sessions at the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar. It was also the first time the Free Practices were held under the new qualifying regulations, meaning the line-up for Saturday’s Q2 has now been established.
From 2013 onwards, the first three of four MotoGP practice sessions have a direct bearing on Qualifying. For this reason, there was much tension in the bottom half of the top ten as riders strived for a place in Saturday’s pole position Q2 shootout. The first session of the day did not see riders improve over yesterday due to the windy and dirty track conditions. As the second free practice session started there were worries in the paddock that rain, which had already affected earlier sessions, may return and break up the action. As it transpired, the showers stayed away and made for a dramatic climax to the night’s action.
Delivering a lap time of 1’56.084 in the last knockings, Márquez confirmed that he will be able to fight for pole position on his MotoGP debut. He demoted champion Jorge Lorenzo by just one thousandth of a second, who was trying out his new chassis, which is near identical to the current bike but with a different stiffness. Britain’s Cal Crutchlow comfortably sealed a Q2 placing with third spot for Monster Yamaha Tech 3, as Lorenzo’s teammate Valentino Rossi was fourth. Shooting into the top five in the late stages was Andrea Dovizioso on his first Ducati Team weekend, showing that the new Desmosedici is certainly competitive in Losail, with Repsol’s Dani Pedrosa having struggled for front end grip since the start of first practice, but still securing a Q2 effort with sixth.
As track conditions improved towards the end of practice, a dramatic battled raged while riders continued to push rivals out of the top ten. Álvaro Bautista went seventh for GO&FUN Honda Gresini, as the times suddenly became the tightest they have been all weekend. In eighth spot was Nicky Hayden on the second Ducati Team bike, with British rookie Bradley Smith impressing on his first outing by achieving ninth for Tech 3. Stefan Bradl looked to have a challenge on his hands as the times came down, but snatched back tenth for LCR Honda MotoGP. Ninth tenths of a second separate the top ten – a group in which may of the riders are split up by margins of just thousandths of a second.
At the end of Q1 on Saturday, grid positions 13 and downward will be decided. However, the fastest two riders will be promoted to Q2, making for a final top-12 contest. Judging by the latest form, it looks as though that battle will be between Pramac pairing Andrea Iannone and Ben Spies, plus Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaró on the leading CRT machine; the trio ended Friday in positions 11 to 13.
Behind, Héctor Barberá was the leading Avintia Blusens representative in 14th from PBM’s Yonny Hernández, Aspar’s Randy de Puniet and NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards. Karel Abraham and Cardion AB Motoracing were 18th as Hiroshi Aoyama and Danilo Petrucci completed the top 20 for Avintia and Came IodaRacing Project, respectively. 21st and 22nd places are split by less than a tenth, showing that the competition is just as tight at the back of the field between Bryan Staring, on Gresini’s CRT bike, and Ioda’s Czech newcomer Lukáš Pešek. PBM’s Michael Laverty continued to develop the team’s own-built bike en route to 23rd, whereas Forward’s Claudio Corti rounded off the timesheets after stopping on-track after his FTR-Kawasaki started smoking.
Combined Free Practice Times
1. Marc Marquez (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 1’56.084
2. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA) Yamaha Factory Racing 1’56.085
3. Cal Crutchlow (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech3 1’56.326
4. Valentino Rossi (ITA) Yamaha Factory Racing 1’56.416
5. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA) Ducati Team 1’56.417
6. Dani Pedrosa (SPA) Repsol Honda Team 1’56.502
7. Alvaro Bautista (SPA) Go&Fun Honda Gresini 1’56.572
8. Nicky Hayden (USA) Ducati Team 1’56.670
9. Bradley Smith (GBR) Monster Yamaha Tech3 1’56.901
10. Stefan Bradl (GER) LCR Honda MotoGP 1’56.984
11. Andrea Iannone (ITA) Pramac Racing Team 1’57.169
12. Ben Spies (USA) Pramac Racing Team 1’57.308
13. Aleix Espargaro (SPA) Power Electronics Aspar 1’57.420
14. Hector Barbera (SPA) Avintia Blusens 1’57.956
15. Yonny Hernandez (COL) Paul Bird Motorsport 1’58.211
16. Randy De Puniet (FRA) Power Electronics Aspar 1’58.396
17. Colin Edwards (USA) NGM Mobile Forward Racing 1’58.863
18. Karel Abraham (CZE) Cardion AB Motoracing 1’59.180
19. Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN) Avintia Blusens 1’59.212
20. Danilo Petrucci (ITA) Came Iodaracing Project 1’59.755
21. Bryan Staring (AUS) Go&Fun Honda Gresini 1’59.758
22. Lukas Pesek (CZE) Came IodaRacing Project 1’59.837
23. Michael Laverty (GBR) Paul Bird Motorsport 2’00.080
24. Claudio Corti (ITA) NGM Mobile Forward Racing 2’00.439
Italtrans Racing Team’s Takaaki Nakagami again set the pace as the final Moto2™ practice session took place at the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar today. Setup comparisons were all but impossible as sporadic light rain showers continued to break up the action.
Having already topped the timesheets 24 hours earlier, Nakagami this time led the way with a best lap of 2’01.480. This was to the frustration of Pol Espargaró, a general title favourite who has been unable to retake the top spot he sealed in opening practice on Thursday. The Tuenti HP 40 rider ended the night within a tenth of the quickest time, as he and teammate Esteve Rabat sandwich Marc VDS Racing Team’s Scott Redding.
The third and final Moto2 practice period of the race weekend was hoped to be one in which bike setups could be improved, although no direct comparisons could be made due to the changeable conditions. Various showers came over the course of the 45 minutes, leaving some greasy patches. Those who briefly headed off-track included Espargaró, who took a trip through the gravel with two minutes to go.
NGM Mobile Racing’s Simone Corsi ended the evening in fifth spot from Came IodaRacing Project’s Johann Zarco and Julián Simón, whose Italtrans machine was wheeled back down the pit lane as he was sent out too late at the end of the session; thankfully for the Spaniard, he noticed the red light in time and therefore avoids a penalty. The top ten was rounded out by NGM’s Alex de Angelis, Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Nico Terol and Technomag carXpert’s Dominique Aegerter.
Luis Salom remained on top in the third and final Moto3™ practice session at the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar today, although a brief rain shower effectively ended proceedings early. The showers were not heavy, but a further sprinkling prevented the majority from improving lap times as the Moto3 runners enjoying their final track time ahead of Saturday’s qualifying session.
Salom, who had already topped the timesheets on Thursday, this time led the way for the Red Bull KTM Ajo outfit with a 2’08.167. His closest challenger was Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Alex Rins, as Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Jonas Folger, Caretta Technology – RTG’s Jack Miller and Mahindra Racing’s Efrén Vázquez completed the top five.
As the mechanics kept a close eye on the skies, no less than three incidents came in the early stages as GO&FUN Gresini Moto3’s Niccolò Antonelli, Miller’s teammate John McPhee and Aspar’s Eric Granado all suffered falls.
Further up the order, the second Estrella Galicia of Alex Márquez finished sixth from the still injured Maverick Viñales on board his Team Calvo KTM. Completing the first ten were San Carlo Team Italia’s Romano Fenati, Ambrogio Racing’s Danny Webb and Avant Tecno’s Niklas Ajo.
Arthur Sissis was 22nd fastest – “The feeling was better than yesterday. The weather wasn’t the best today for going out riding, but we were still able to improve a few aspects of the bike and my riding. Although I wasn’t much faster than in other sessions, I felt much more comfortable and that is very important for tomorrow’s qualifying run.”
— Repsol HRC Report
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa comfortably secured their places in tomorrow’s Qualifying 2, by achieving the 1st and 6th fastest times in the combined times of the first three sessions.
Marc finished on the top of the time sheets in both Free Practice sessions in Qatar today, with a fastest time of 1’56.084 recorded on lap 16 of 17 in FP3, on a new soft rear tyre. Teammate Dani, improved his RC213V in the last session and set his fastest time of 1’56.502, just 0.418 off Marc, on lap 9 of 17 with a used soft rear tyre.
Tomorrow’s Free Practice 4 will take place at 19h55 local time, and will be used by the Repsol Honda riders as a final session to prepare for the race and the 15 minute shootout – Qualifying 2 session at 21h00.
Marc Marquez 1st 1’56.084
“Practice today went pretty well – better than expected. 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”.
Dani Pedrosa 6th 1’56.502
“We improved a little today and are now further up the order. We are faster and entering corners better, but we’ve still got a way to go. We hope to gain a little rear grip, which would allow us to ride more comfortably. The times keep dropping with every session, but we are going to try to keep getting better and prepare for qualifying and the race. The track isn’t in good condition this year and I don’t think that this will change; maybe it will improve slightly as more laps are completed. However, this doesn’t mean making any big changes to the bike – just improving the setup for the conditions we have”.
— Yamaha Report
Action resumed today at the Losail Circuit in Qatar for the opening round of the 2013 MotoGP World Championship. As Yamaha Factory Racing riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi got to work under the floodlights they had to cope with strong winds and a dirty track with sand blown across it.
World Champion Lorenzo was quick to find a competitive pace despite the conditions as he evaluated a different chassis spec and set up. He ended both the first and second of the practice sessions in second position, the final one just 0.001 seconds from the front having led for the majority of the heat.
Teammate Rossi continues to shine on his return to Yamaha, the Italian becoming a permanent fixture at the sharp end of the timing sheets as he hunts for the best set up ahead of Sunday night’s race. Rossi wrapped up the first of the day’s sessions in third position and led for most of the second before settling for fourth at the end despite being hampered by a severe headache from the previous day’s riding.
Jorge Lorenzo / 2nd / 1’56.085 / 17 laps
“I’m very happy with the changes we made on the bike because it improved a lot. 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.”
Valentino Rossi / 4th / 1’56.416 / 18 laps
“The practices are not so bad, we are continuing to work for the race. We still have to decide which tyre 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.”
Yamaha Factory Racing / Wilco Zeelenberg / Team Manager
“The first free practices are done and we’ve qualified for the second qualifying session. This is important so we don’t have to stress about the first qualifying session. Everything went smoothly and we tried a few things. The circumstances are not fantastic as everyone can see, there’s a lot of dust on the track. In the first practice there was also a lot of wind, that also disrupts the steps we want to make because every time we go out the situation changes. Jorge was happy with the results in the last practice so we’ll have to find the best combination of the two bikes we used today and I think we will be ready for tomorrow.”
Yamaha Factory Racing Massimo Meregalli / Team Director
“Today the track conditions were not perfect to enable us to finalise the set up and also to be able to choose between the two different chassis. So far we’ve done a good job, I think we’ve got enough data and I think both riders are in good shape. Tomorrow in the last free practice we will fine-tune the bikes. Both Jorge and Valentino have good consistent pace and speed so we are ready.”
— Ducati Report
A pair of strong performances during this evening’s exciting free-practice sessions in Qatar put Ducati Team riders Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden in a positive frame of mind for MotoGP’s new qualifying system, set to debut tomorrow night. The teammates were both well inside the top ten in combined free-practice times, meaning they will advance directly into tomorrow’s Q2 session.
Dealing with the challenging conditions presented by stiff winds and a dirty track surface, the Italian posted his best lap time with eight minutes left in FP3, at which point he sat in third place in the combined times. He ultimately ended the session fifth, just .001 seconds behind Valentino Rossi, and .333 seconds from leader Marc Marquez. Hayden’s best lap put him in seventh place with six minutes remaining, and he would slip one spot before the session ended.
Andrea Dovizioso – Ducati Team, 5th (1:56.417)
“I’m very happy with the position, but I’m especially pleased with the gap to the front. Fifth place is good, but the gap of three tenths is even better. I didn’t expect to be so close, especially because up until this session, we didn’t really have true parameters. In fact, this was the first faceoff with the soft tyre, and we can say that we were pretty close to the others when the tyre is new. We still have to see how things are in race configuration, and tomorrow before qualifying, we’ll decide if we should go ahead with the soft tyre.”
Nicky Hayden – Ducati Team, 8th (1:56.670)
“It certainly wasn’t easy tonight, as conditions were changing a lot. The wind was really strong in FP2, and there was a lot of sand on the track, but when things improved for FP3, I could push a bit harder. I kind of treated the session like qualifying, because it’s important to advance to QP2. My position isn’t great, but the gap to the front isn’t so bad. We want to make the bike more controllable in the wind and improve traction on corner entry, so if we can keep working in a good way, maybe we can do well in qualifying. It should be exciting.”
— Bridgestone Report
Bridgestone slick compounds available: Front: Soft & Hard; Rear: Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Weather: FP2 – Dry. Ambient 26-28°C; Track 32-29°C (Bridgestone measurement)
FP3 – Dry. Ambient 29-30°C; Track 30-29°C (Bridgestone measurement)
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez produced a strong last lap effort to top Friday practice by just one-thousandth of a second and head the field into tomorrow’s qualifying sessions.
Marquez edged out Yamaha Factory Racing’s Jorge Lorenzo to emerge quickest from the three ranked practice sessions, with Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow placing third overall and a further two-tenths of a second behind Lorenzo. Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro was the pick of the CRT riders, his time of 1’57.420 was 1.336 seconds off P1 and placed him thirteenth overall.
Construction work in the vicinity of the circuit caused the track surface to be even dirtier than usual, with riders reporting very poor grip levels off the racing line. Despite the presence of the abrasive sand, wear rates were normal for the Losail Circuit and track conditions improved towards the end of Friday, with all riders setting their best times in Free Practice 3. All of the riders in the top ten set their times on the softer rear and harder front slick, this setup providing the best combination of rear drive and front-end stability in the less than ideal track conditions.
The next MotoGP™ session is Free Practice 4 which commences at 1955 local time (GMT+3) before the first of the two Qualifying Practice sessions starts at 2035. The top two riders at the end of Qualifying Practice 1 will participate in the Qualifying Practice 2 session which will determine the first four rows of the starting grid.
Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorsport Tyre Development Department
“Track conditions yesterday and today were poor with a greater than usual amount of wind-blow sand, but it improved towards the end of Friday. With the grip level of the tarmac not being the best, most riders preferred the softer rear slick, though for the front tyre, the harder slick was more popular due to its stability in corners and under braking. I expect most of the riders to select the combination of the harder front and softer rear slick for qualifying tomorrow, and perhaps some teams will try evaluating the performance of the harder rear slick for the race”.