Action resumed today at the Losail Circuit in Qatar for the opening round of the 2013 MotoGP World Championship. Riders got to work under floodlights, with strong winds testing skill and concentration.
From 2013 onwards the first three of four MotoGP practice sessions have a direct bearing on qualifying where the top 12 riders battle it out for grid positions on the first four rows. There was plenty of tension in the bottom half of the top ten as riders strived for a place in Saturday’s pole position shootout.
Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez (pictured above) 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.
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”.
Teammate Dani Pedrosa improved his RC213V in the last session finishing sixth, 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.
World Champion Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha Factory Racing) 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.
Jorge Lorenzo – 1’56.085
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.”
Lorenzo’s teammate, Valentino 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.
Cal Crutchlow powered his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 YZR-M1 machine into the top three again. The British rider’s best pace of 1.56.326 was only 0.242s off the fastest lap time set by rookie Marc Marquez. Teammate Bradley Smith defied a lack of experience to finish inside the top 10.
Shooting into the top five in the late stages was Andrea Dovizioso on his first Ducati Team weekend.
As track conditions improved towards the end of third 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, while Stefan Bradl looked to have a challenge on his hands as the times came down, but snatched back tenth for LCR Honda MotoGP.