MotoGP Qatar Friday Practice 2012

April 6, 2012
Bart Madson
By Bart Madson
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Bashing away at the MotoUSA keyboard for nine years now, Madson lends his scribbling and editorial input on everything from bike reviews to industry analysis and motorcycle racing reports.

Jorge Lorenzo led the timesheet on Friday - topping the MotoGP field during Free Practice 3.
Factory Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo led the timesheet on Friday – topping the MotoGP field during Free Practice 3.

Jorge Lorenzo seized MotoGP bragging rights on Friday at Qatar, the factory Yamaha rider leading after Free Practice 3 at the Losail circuit. The 2010 MotoGP champion peeled off the fastest lap late in the second session, followed by satellite Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow in second and reigning world champion Casey Stoner in third.

Lorenzo replaced Stoner atop the timesheet in the latter half of the session, with Tech 3’s Crutchlow sneaking up with a blistering lap in the closing minutes – the British rider only 0.154 from provisional pole. The front-runners are fast closing in on the circuit record aboard the new 1000cc machines (the standing record held by Casey Stoner 1’55.153 in 2008).

“I am very happy with today because we improved a lot on yesterday’s lap time,” said Lorenzo in a team press statement. “I’m also happy for Cal in second, the bike seems much better than last year for us. I think we have even more potential for improvement tomorrow.”

Stoner’s relegation to third should not be cause for alarm, however, as the Australian was on pace for a personal best when his flying lap was spoiled. Satellite Honda man Alvaro Bautista held up Stoner on the hot lap. Said Stoner later, “
A few people got in our way throughout the session so we were unable to show what we were really capable of, but we know how we feel and we’re confident for qualifying tomorrow.”

It was worse news for the second Repsol Honda rider, Dani Pedrosa, who suffered a FP3 get-off. Like his teammate, Pedrosa was also bested by a Tech 3 Yamaha rider on the timesheet in Andrea Dovizioso. For Dovizioso, the Italian is sure to relish any placement ahead of his former HRC teammates.

Hector Barbera was the top-placing Ducati on Friday, the Pramac Racing pilot running sixth-fastest. The Spanish rider bettered factory GP12 riders Nicky Hayden and Valentino Rossi, who were a respective seventh and eighth.

Friday’s action also saw some key riders crash besides Pedrosa. Yamaha’s Ben Spies had been leading the timesheet early in the session, but dropped to 11th after binning his M1. The top-placed CRT rider, Randy de Puniet, also crashed hard – the Team Aspar ART rider limping off the track with an injured left knee.

The next fastest CRT, Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards, was a full second adrift of De Puniet in 14th. The CRT field showed maked improvement by Gresini’s Honda/FTR rider Michele Pirro – the Italian hacking more than a second off his time and trailing only Edwards and De Puniet. The slowest rider on the grid, Paul Bird Motorsport’s James Ellison, also improved by more than a second – but still trails the leader by a full five seconds.

2012 MotoGP Qatar Free Practice 3 Results:
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’55.302
2. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1’55.456
3. Casey Stoner (Honda) 1’55.674
4. Andrea Dovizioso (Yamaha) 1’55.905
5. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’56.114
6. Hector Barbera (Ducati) 1’56.163
7. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1’56.402
8. Valentino Rossi (Ducati) 1’56.535
9. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1’56.751

10. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1’56.771
11. Ben Spies (Yamaha) 1’57.030
12. Karel Abraham (Ducati) 1’57.223
13. Randy de Puniet (Aspar) 1’57.261
14. Colin Edwards (Forward) 1’58.310
15. Michele Pirro (Gresini) 1’58.800
16. Yonny Hernandez (Avintia) 1’59.087
17. Aleix Espargaro (Aspar) 1’59.169
18. Danilo Petrucci (Ioda) 1’59.517
19. Ivan Silva (Avintia) 2’00.035
20. Mattia Pasini (Speed Master) 2’00.226
21. James Ellison (PBM) 2’00.563

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