The first round of the 2013 MotoGP
season is officially underway following the first practice session at Losail in Qatar on Thursday. Defending champion Jorge Lorenzo
of Yamaha Factory Racing topped the timesheet with a lap time of 1’56.685 and was followed by Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow
just a fraction of a second behind. Lorenzo’s teammate, Valentino Rossi
, was third-fastest, coming in 0.071 off Lorenzo’s best effort. This first practice session will affect qualifying on Saturday as the top-10 fastest riders in combined practice time gain direct entry to Q2, the session in which pole position will be determined.
“It's a very good way to start the season, on top,” said Lorenzo. “To have three Yamahas in the first three positions like in Jerez means this track can be positive for us. We need to improve though because the other guys will come in the next practice. We’ll make the step little by little by riding, improving the bike and also the track will improve. Today we tried both bikes and tomorrow we will try the new chassis here.”
Marc Marquez was the fastest Repsol Honda rider in FP1.
"The setting and balance of the bike is good so it looks like we can be competitive," said Valentino Rossi after FP1.
Repsol Honda rookie, Marc Marquez, came in fourth and was followed by Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso
in fifth. As with most on the grid, early dusty conditions made for slow-going in the first half of the session, and Marquez hit his best mark on Lap 15 of 18 while Dovi earned his fastest time on Lap 11 of 15. GO & Fun Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista
ended the day in sixth, and was followed by LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl in seventh.
It was a disappointing showing for Marquez’s teammate, Dani Pedrosa
, who finished eighth. While only one second off Lorenzo’s time, he struggled with corner entry issues which he’ll work to remedy in the days ahead. Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro led the CRT pack in ninth, followed by Dovizioso’s teammate, Nicky Hayden, in 10th. Espargaro’s effort is particularly notable as he’s the only CRT within the top-10 and if he's able to maintain a similar pace in combined time through all practice sessions, he'll earn a spot in Q2 and fight for pole position under the new qualifying rules.
Crutchlow’s teammate, Bradley Smith, took 11th followed by Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone in 12th. Both riders spent time shaking off nerves and learning the track. Iannone had a gear lever issue early in the session that required repair, but was quickly back on track. Iannone’s teammate, Ben Spies
, trailed in 13th. The American rider paced himself on track, looking to avoid any unnecessary mistakes as his shoulder continues to recover from last year’s crash in Malaysia.
Though many riders were forced to the run-off area on Turn 1 during the session due to sandy track conditions, 18th-place finisher Yonny Hernandez of Paul Bird Motorsport fared worst of all when he lost the front end of his PBM ART machine in the opening minutes. Hernandez slid off track and while his bike skipped across the gravel, he was unharmed in the incident.
Two more Free Practice sessions are scheduled for the premier class on Friday, followed by qualifying sessions Saturday and the main race Sunday.
MotoGP Losail Thursday Results 2013:
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1’56.685
2. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1’56.743
3. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1’56.756
4. Marc Marquez (Honda) 1’57.276
5. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 1’57.538
6. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1’57.601
7. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1’57.670
8. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1’57.749
9. Aleix Espargaro (ART) 1’57.843
10. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1’57.926
11. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 1’58.369
12. Andrea Iannone (Ducati) 1’58.559
13. Ben Spies (Ducati) 1’58.575
14. Hector Barbera (FTR-Kawasaki) 1’59.608
15. Randy de Puniet (ART) 1’59.633
16. Karel Abraham (ART) 1’59.758
17. Colin Edwards (FTR-Kawasaki) 2’00.341
18. Yonny Hernandez (ART) 2’00.426
19. Hiroshi Aoyama (FTR-Kawasaki) 2’00.563
20. Claudio Corti (FTR Kawasaki) 2’01.227
21. Danilo Petrucci (Ioda-Suter) 2’01.438
22. Bryan Staring (FTR-Honda) 2’01.942
23. Lukas Pesek (Ioda-Suter) 2’02.079
24. Michael Laverty (PBM) 2’02.135