Marc Marquez tops FP3 ahead of Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Iannone
Top 18 riders split by less than a second after FP3 on combined times
The two-time and reigning MotoGP World Champion setting a time of 1’54.822 to lead a highly competitive field where the top eighteen riders were split by less than a second on combined times after Free Practice 3.
The wind-blown sand that is usually encountered at the Losail Circuit was less prevalent than in the past, so the grip offered by the tarmac was slightly better than in previous years. Track temperatures varied from 26-32°C over the opening three sessions.
Marquez set his benchmark time on his penultimate lap in FP3 to finish a mere 0.096 seconds ahead of CWM LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow who set a 1’54.918 to finish second fastest. Third quickest overall was Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone who clocked a 1’54.992 on the new GP15 machine. All of the top three riders set their quickest lap using the combination of the medium compound slicks front and rear.
Marc Marquez – P1 – 1’54.822 – “Today has been a very good day, because we have improved our pace – which is the most important thing – and tried out a few things that have allowed us to progress. We will see tomorrow if the track conditions stay the same or improve, but today we saw times that were very close; I think that tomorrow they will be even closer. The most important thing will be to continue like this and prepare for Sunday’s race.”
Cal Crutchlow – P2 – 1’54.918 – “Obviously I’m happy enough with the lap time tonight and how things were feeling at the end of the session, but the early part of it was a bit of a disaster. There was a strange feeling with the bike and I was riding around in 18th spot, with the rear not working as it had in the earlier practices. I think we’re on a bit of a different plan to the other guys tyre-wise, so maybe that was why the track felt a lot worse later on.”
“The whole CWM LCR Honda Team are doing a great job though, and we are all working so hard. I’m not sure today’s speed and lap-times are relative to where we will finish the race, but I hope it is! We’re working hard enough, and I’m surprised with how fast we are going with the package we’ve got, but we still need to improve our lap by lap pace and we will be trying to do so overnight.”
Andrea Iannone had set his quickest time (1’54.992) on the third lap of today’s second session, the Italian using the hardest compound rear tyre at his disposal (the medium). The man from Vasto then took to the track for the first time ever with side fairings with winglets and continued to lap at a good pace, but he then crashed at Turn 2 on his thirteenth lap, fortunately without any consequences.
Andrea Iannone P3 – 1’54.992 – “I am satisfied with this second day of testing because in the end we again managed to find the feeling we had in the tests, and we were pretty quick both over one lap and over race pace. It’s a pity about the crash, I came into the turn and the front suddenly closed up on me. We were trying some different settings and I crashed, but luckily I didn’t hurt myself. To avoid crashes here at Losail, they should remove Turn 2 because we always crash at that point! In any case, on the medium tyre we are all pretty much together, while I only tried the soft tyre at the end of FP2, but conditions were not perfect, and so I don’t know how much advantage it will give. In any case in my opinion, from first to fifth place on the same tyre we are all very close.”
Aleix Espargaro (+0.172s) put the Team Suzuki Ecstar GSX-RR into 4th.
Aleix Espargaro P4 – “The day has been positive. In the first session we improved the traction control and my feeling with the bike got better and better. Also in the second session we worked-on finalising the set-up and we had very positive feedback. We couldn’t try any of the long runs that we wanted because in FP2 we had some little issues that delayed our work, but at the end I managed to make a very good fast lap. I feel confident with both tyre compounds, which is important for qualifying and the race. Now we need to improve a little bit the feeling with the front-end and hopefully validate our potential race pace, while attempting a fastest lap in qualifying to see where we can be on the grid.”
Dani Pedrosa – P5 – 1’55.024 – “Unlike yesterday, today we had two practice sessions and we were able to get more of a feel for both the bike and the track. I think that getting into Q1 is good and now we have to focus on tomorrow in order to make the final adjustments to the setup and qualify well for the race.”
Andrea Dovizioso exclusively went out on track today with the winglet version of his Desmosedici GP15 and he set his best time (1’55.044) on his fifteenth lap, after fitting a ‘soft’ rear tyre. Dovi had in any case set some positive times throughout the session, using the medium compound rear tyre option.
Andrea Dovizioso – P6 – 1’55.044 – “I am very pleased with the work that we’ve been doing these days, and we succeeded in testing a lot of things, some of which were positive. I don’t yet have a perfect feeling with my GP15, but despite this I managed to lap in 1’55.6 with the used tyre and I think that is a very good pace. However we have to improve because we’re still lacking a bit of stability when braking and this is quite important in view of the race, but we do have the speed and tomorrow we’ve still got a fourth free practice session to work on fine-tuning the bike. My lap on the soft tyre wasn’t perfect but it was important to remain in the top 10, and try out the grip on this tyre in view of tomorrow’s qualifying session.”
Jorge Lorenzo showed a quick and consistent pace at the start of FP1. He held fourth place for most of the morning session with a fastest lap of 1‘55.609, but was pushed back two places after a final flurry of activity. At the end of the second 45 minutes session, the double MotoGP Champion claimed eighth place with a fastest lap of 1‘55.108, less than three-tenths from the leader.
Jorge Lorenzo – P8 – 1’55.108 – “It was difficult today, but I feel great on the bike with the soft tyre. We also tried the harder tyre, which is very consistent. I could maybe do around a hundred laps of 1‘56.1 on it, but this is too slow, so, for the moment, I prefer the soft option. We found some problems with the electronics this afternoon that were a little strange. We need to investigate what‘s going on. We‘ll keep working to increase our pace to a high 1‘54, which is our goal. It will be a hard fight for the front row tomorrow, because many riders have the extra soft tyre, that gives them four-tenths of a second. They are also stronger than last year, so it will even be difficult to get a position on the second row, but you never know what will happen. Maybe we can find something that will give us half a second and even let us fight for pole position.”
Teammate Valentino Rossi needed a little more time in the morning session to find his pace, as he tried both tyre options. He found a solution towards the end of FP1 and finished right behind his teammate in seventh place with a 1‘55.618 lap. The afternoon session saw an improvement in time from the nine-time World Champion. He posted a fastest time of 1‘55.192, 0,370s off the front, but was unable to improve his position in the time sheets. He ended the session in ninth place.
Valentino Rossi – P9 – 1’55.192 – “I am satisfied about today because the minimum target that I set for myself was to be inside the top ten. The last practice session was unbelievable because there are ten bikes within three-tenths of a second. I‘m not happy about my position, but I‘m not far from pole position. To get the pole tomorrow will be very hard, but I want to start a little more in front of the field. We improved the bike and the setting a lot today and my pace is not so bad, it‘s very similar to that of the other top guys. We have to keep working on the tyres, especially the rear. I might be able to use the softer option, but maybe I can also use the hard tyre, so tomorrow will be a very important day to understand which tyre I should use for the race. Right now it‘s 50/50.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha Team Director – “Even if the position is not what we expected, we still made a step today and saw some improvements. The bike is starting to work better and also the track is improving and provides more grip. Both our riders spent most of the session using the hard tyre to see if this is an option for Sunday. Though their pace was consistent it wasn‘t very fast. When they moved on to the softer tyre the improvements were quite significant. We still have work to do, but we are quite optimistic that tomorrow we can make another step. Considering the amount of work we did in not a lot of time, I think we did quite a good job.”
Pol Espargaro P10 – 1’55.328 – “For sure, I can’t be completely happy as finishing in tenth is nothing to be thrilled about. However, maybe I could say that I’m satisfied in one respect as we are right behind the factory guys and also the gap to the leader is not that big. Moreover we still have some margin to improve as we are struggling with our rear grip, yet I’m confident that we can solve this issue tomorrow. In my opinion, it’s normal that we ended up in tenth in a session which turned out to be a qualification for us and also, my teammate who has always been fast at this track, is even further behind. I don’t think we deserve the disadvantage we have because of the tyre allocation, but that’s how it is so we just have to deal with it. Fortunately we managed to go straight to QP2 but for sure, it won’t be easy at all to achieve a decent grid position tomorrow.”
Hector Barbera (+0.574s) was the leading Open class rider in 11th, with Scott Redding (12th +0.625s), Maverick Viñales (13th +0.854s) and Bradley Smith (16th +0.919s) on the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha some of the big names who will have to battle it out in Q1.
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS rider Scott Redding had made a significant improvement during the third MotoGP free practice session, overcoming grip issues to finish 12th and within only 6-tentsh of provisional pole sitter Marc Marquez. The 22-year-old Briton bettered his target lap time as the session drew to a close, to finish within 0.6s of the fastest time of the day. However, with the top 17 riders all within a second, it wasn’t enough to elevate Redding higher than 12th on the timesheet.
Scott Redding – P12 – 1’55.447 – “The first session was really difficult, because the feeling I’d had with the front here at the test simply wasn’t there today. The problem was made worse by a lack of rear grip; whatever I tried I just couldn’t seem to improve. For the second session we made some fairly big changes to the bike and, straight away, the feeling was there again. In some corners the problems we’d had in the morning were completely eliminated, while in others they were only reduced, but the feeling overall was much better. My target was to do a 1’55.5 so I was happy enough when I got down to a 1’55.4, until I saw my position on the timesheet! It’s tough out there and we still need to do some work tomorrow, especially in the last sector where I’m losing four tenths in just three corners.”
Michael Bartholemy – Team Principal – “There’s no denying the fact that Scott struggled this morning, having been unable to rediscover the feeling with the bike that he’d had at the test here. It was difficult to understand why he was having problems, as the set up of the bike was unchanged. However, Scott and his crew worked their way through the problems to come up with a solution ahead of the second session, which brought an immediate improvement. Not only did they go faster, but also they now have a far better understanding of the bike, which will stand them in good stead in the future. There is still work to do, and further improvements to find, but I’m fairly satisfied with the end result today, given the issues we encountered.”
Maverick Viñales managed to improve his best time on the last lap, placing him 13th before he ran out of fuel just after the flag.
Maverick Viñales P13 – “In the first session I had some issues with the soft front tyre which didn’t give me a proper feeling, while in the second session I immediately found more confidence, even if we didn’t change anything in the set up. It is probably only that I need to learn this new bike and learn further how to manage the soft tyre and give directions to the team. I guess this is why at the end I’m satisfied with the day’s work. We made many steps forward and my fast lap is not so bad. I know I have room for improvement and tomorrow we will try our best to get much further up in qualifying.”
Stefan Bradl P14 – 1’55.694 – “I’m not very far from the first Open bike. Barbera is only three-tenths faster and I’m less than a second from the leading factory bikes. The overall feeling is good, I have to work on the rear grip to have more confidence in the corners. Tomorrow we will continue to work in view of the race, I look forward for more track-time.”
Bradley Smith P16 – 1’55.741 – “Of course, the end result today wasn’t what we planned at all. To be honest, we were going really well in the first two runs in FP3 and I felt confident on the old tyres at the beginning. Then on the second run, we tried the hard compound and I was one of the fastest riders on this type of tyre. However, we then put the new medium on at the end of the session but it didn’t work well and I couldn’t improve my lap time. Yet, I can’t be negative as the bike feels good and I am certain that if we make a few small modifications, we can improve tomorrow. Qualifying 1 will be tough, especially with the riders who will use the soft tyres, but I am convinced that it is still possible that we can do a good job. We have been competitive all weekend and we were just unlucky when it was time to do a time attack. These things happen, but I’m glad it was today and not tomorrow or Sunday. We’ll stay positive, try to improve in a few small areas and then prepare for a fast lap in qualifying.”
Nicky Hayden and Eugene Laverty made notable improvements to their feeling and lap times in FP3. A few changes for the American rider allowed him to clock a 1’55.789 lap that took him to within a second of the fastest lap of the night, whilst his Irish team-mate found confidence in a different front tyre and was also able to lap in the 1’55s. The Aspar Team pair are confident they are on the right path to more improvements tomorrow night, as they prepare for the first qualifying practice of the 2015 season.
Nicky Hayden – P18 – 1.55.789 – “Tonight we went back to the best set-up we found at the test here at Losail and this second day has been more productive. The feeling has improved considerably and even though we have a little chatter the bike is better balanced and we were able to go faster than we managed at the test. A 1’55 lap was one of the targets we set tonight so we are happy, even though we would like to be faster. The position is not great but we are less than a second off the top and that is very positive. The team have done a great job tonight. It will be a tough qualifying session with so many riders setting a similar pace but that makes it exciting. Hopefully we can set a good qualifying position and improve our pace for the race.”
Eugene Laverty – P19 – 1.55.913 – “The goal was to improve the lap times tonight and get faster so to be a second off the top, I am happy with that but I didn’t think it would leave me back in nineteenth position. So I have mixed feelings tonight – we are on the right path and I am satisfied but obviously I want more. We didn’t make a great start yesterday but we have responded tonight, taking a big chunk out of the lap time and improving the feeling. We have also focused on our race pace tonight and we understand more about the performance of the tyre. We have done a lot of testing and Sunday night is my first race in MotoGP, I want to make sure I am ready. We have solved the problem we had last night with the front tyre and found an option that works better with my riding style. We have improved our lap time from the test and hopefully we can keep going in the same way tomorrow and qualify in a good position.”
Jack Miller finished in 21st place, 1.37 seconds behind pacesetter Marquez, and more than half-a-second ahead of Alex De Angelis and Loris Baz.
Jack Miller P21– 1’56.162 – “We’re really happy with how today went, we’re getting much closer to the front. Today we finished just 1.3 behind the leader so we have improved a lot. Still, the position stayed the same because everyone is improving, but it’s all so close it’s just like being on the Moto3 grid again!”
“As it’s so tight, I’m sure the racing will be very interesting, and we seem to be really comfortable on the hard front tyre and the harder rear option. That means we feel strong for the race but we will see what tomorrow brings in qualifying.”
“I’m really looking forward to my first qualifying session and what is a new format for me. I’m getting much more comfortable with the MotoGP bike and the different style I have to use, so I’m looking forward to it.”
Loris Baz crashed at turn two, and was taken to the Medical Centre for an x-ray on a suspected broken finger.
Loris Baz P23 – 1’56.966 – “The goal was to make the most of this practice session in view of tomorrow qualifying, but after falling I was unable to complete the run. After the fall I suffered the avulsion of the nail of the left little finger, but fortunately without any fracture. The guys of the Clinica Mobile fixed my hand so that I can go back on track tomorrow. I’m eager to do well in qualifying.”
The official Aprilia machines ridden by Alvaro Bautista and Marco Melandri continued to struggle for pace and rounded out the 25-rider field.
Romano Albesiano – (Aprilia Racing) – “Today we worked especially on the setups in search of better load transfer so that the rear tyre will perform better and Alvaro especially had some good feedback today. We also had to face and resolve a few problems that are normal for this stage of the project but which slowed our work down a bit in this last session. Naturally we are hard at work analysing the data in order to make changes.”
Alvaro Bautista – “In FP2 we tried a different frame setup to improve the feeling going into turns and to get better traction. The feelings were positive but then a technical problem kept us from taking advantage of the final minutes of the session where we would have liked to have put on the soft tyre. In FP3 a problem with the engine on the second bike kept me from being as fast as I would have liked. The positive side is that the setup we tried in FP2 seems to be a good base for future developments, so tomorrow we’ll see if we can try it again more thoroughly and maybe take a few steps forward. We know that in our first year of tests we’ll have days where everything goes well and others where we’ll have to take on and solve problems, but that’s the only way to grow.”
Marco Melandri – “Not much changed compared to yesterday. We made various changes but my situation didn’t improve significantly. We’re working on the details but I still haven’t found that substantial change that I’m trying to achieve. I’ll continue to put forth my best effort. My goal now is to point our mechanics in the right direction to improve significantly.”
The combined times from all three Free Practice sessions decides who qualifies automatically for Q2, with the top ten riders all promoted straight through.
MotoGP Free Practice 4 starts at 1955 local time (GMT+3) tomorrow before qualifying for the 2015 season opener commences at 2035 with QP1, followed by QP2 at 2100.
MotoGP 2015 – Round One – Losail, Qatar – FP3 Combined Times
Weather: Dry | Humidity: 82% | Track Temp: 25°C | Air Temp: 23°C
- MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA Repsol Honda Team 1’54.822
- CRUTCHLOW Cal 35 GBR CWM LCR Honda 1’54.918
- IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA Ducati Team 1’54.992
- ESPARGARO Aleix 41 SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar 1’54.994
- PEDROSA Dani 26 SPA Repsol Honda Team 1’55.024
- DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA Ducati Team 1’55.044
- HERNANDEZ Yonny 68 COL Pramac Racing 1’55.102
- LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1’55.108
- ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1’55.192
- ESPARGARO Pol 44 SPA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1’55.328
- BARBERA Hector 8 SPA Avintia Racing 1’55.396
- REDDING Scott 45 GBR Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS 1’55.447
- VINALES Maverick 25 SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar 1’55.676
- BRADL Stefan 6 GER Athina Forward Racing 1’55.694
- DI MEGLIO Mike 63 FRA Avintia Racing 1’55.707 FP2
- SMITH Bradley 38 GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1’55.741 FP2
- PETRUCCI Danilo 9 ITA Pramac Racing 1’55.777
- HAYDEN Nicky 69 USA Aspar MotoGP Team 1’55.789
- LAVERTY Eugene 50 IRE Aspar MotoGP Team 1’55.913
- ABRAHAM Karel 17 CZE AB Motoracing 1’56.080
- MILLER Jack 43 AUS CWM LCR Honda 1’56.162
- DE ANGELIS Alex 15 RSM Athina Forward Racing 1’56.768 FP1
- BAZ Loris 76 FRA Athina Forward Racing 1’56.966 FP2
- BAUTISTA Alvaro 19 SPA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1’57.107
- MELANDRI Marco 33 ITA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1’58.542 FP2
Lowes beats Zarco in dramatic Moto2 FP3
Sam Lowes managed to beat Johann Zarco into 2nd in FP3 after the two riders put on an incredible display of riding during the session.
The two riders were a cut above the rest of the field as they both managed to break the two minute mark, exchanging lap record after lap record before Lowes put in an incredible 1’59.541 at the end of the session. Zarco (+0.136s) couldn’t quite respond and finished in 2nd.
Reigning Moto2 Champion Tito Rabat (+0.452s) once again completed the race distance of 20 laps during the session, leaving it until his final lap to get under the 2 minute barrier and finish 3rd.
Anthony West finished the session 19th on combined times but worryingly his fastest time was set in FP1 and the Australian failed to improve across the second and third practice sessions, as did his QMMF teammate Julian Simon who was 20th quickest out of the 30-rider field.
Axel Pons crashed right at the end of the session but was uninjured, as Luis Salom experienced clutch issues once more, that meant he ended up in 18th.
Tito Rabat – P3 – 1’59.993 – “Today we improved a little, making another step forward, but we weren’t the only ones to do so, as the timesheet shows. I came across many slower riders on track, which made it difficult to find a good rhythm today. For tomorrow we need to make another big step and cut the deficit to the leading two riders if we are to be in the best position for the race on Sunday. We have some ideas for further improvements, especially now that there is more grip available on track, and we will look at these in more depth tonight.”
Alex Marquez – P11 – 2’01.030 – “I’m happy because we made another step tonight and that’s the important thing; to always improve. In the session I had a really good rhythm, so for tomorrow in qualifying we just need to decide when and how we try to make our fast laps. I want to say thank you to Tito, because he helped me a lot tonight; he’s a great teammate to have. So, overall I’m very happy. Yes, we need to improve further tomorrow but today, only our second in Qatar, it was very positive for us.”
Kent wins thrilling duel in Moto3 FP3
It was a Leopard Racing 1-2 as Danny Kent finished fastest ahead of his teammate Hiroki Ono, after an intense battle with Miguel Oliveira.
The final Free Practice session for Moto3 saw the riders take to the track in their last chance to impress before Qualifying on Saturday. The intense on-track action showcasing just how close the Championship will be this year as less than two-tenths split the top 5, with under a second separating the top 13.
There was a dramatic end to the session as riders put on fresh tyres in the last ten minutes to set a flying lap, with the lead changing hands a number of times between Miguel Oliveira and Danny Kent, before the British rider posted the fastest time of the weekend, a 2’06.413.
Ono (+0.086s) set his time after the checkered flag had been shown to knock Oliveira (+0.097s) into 3rd. SAXOPRINT-RTG’s John Mcphee (+0.120s) sneaked into 4th, just ahead of the rookie 15 year old Fabio Quartararo (+0.152s).
Romano Fenati crashed out early on in the session but was unhurt, and Belgian Loric Cresson made his debut on track as a replacement for the injured RBA Racing Team’s Ana Carrasco.
Remy Gardner appears to be making some steady progress with the youngster improving in each session to end the day 26th out of the 34-rider field.