Yamaha’s Espargaro Tops Qatar Preseason Open Class MotoGP Test

Yamaha's Espargaro Tops Qatar Preseason Open Class MotoGP Test
NGM Mobile Forward Yamaha's Aleix Espargaro

2014 Open-Class MotoGP Test

The 2014 MotoGP premier-class preseason testing season concluded Sunday at the circuit of Qatar under the desert lights.

The test only included the Open Class; the final preseason test for the Factory-backed riders was at Phillip Island MotoGP Tire Test earlier last week.

Topping the test with some impressive speeds was NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro, who has been the fastest Open-class rider throughout the preseason.

His brother Pol (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) followed 0.033 of a second back, but broke his collarbone in a late-night crash at the Qatar circuit. He crashed at Turn 6, and was taken to the medical center. He faces surgery in Barcelona today, and should be able to race the opening round March 23 at Qatar.

As for brother Aleix, he has more than impressive aboard the Yamaha. On his 19th out of 47th lap on Sunday, Aleix posted a best of 1:54.874, which was a mere 0.2 seconds off Jorge Lorenzo’s pole lap last season. Espargaro also looked strong in a race simulation which he carried out late on the final day.

The other Monster Tech 3 pilot Bradely Smith finished third, 0.153 of a second behind, making the top three all Yamahas. Smith, whose objective is to beat the Espargaros during the opening round of MotoGP, crashed during Sunday’s testing, but was able to walk away unhurt.

Honda riders Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista were fourth and fifth respectively with similar lap times, the pair of them avoiding injury despite both crashing twice on Sunday. LCR Honda man Bradl notched a 1:55.187 best time, putting him 0.045 off the pace ahead of his GO&FUN Honda Gresini rival.

Pramac Racing’s Andrea Iannone was the faster of the two Ducati riders on track again, finishing 0.644 of a second off the pace, whilst Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Yonny Hernandez (+1.182) was eighth on the 2013 Ducati bike.

In seventh place meanwhile, Colin Edwards again chipped a few tenths off his previous day’s best and ends preseason lapping around a second slower than his Forward Racing colleague Espargaro. The experienced Texan puts the time difference down to riding style and aims to adapt to a Yamaha machine different to that which he has previously ridden.

The top ten was rounded out by Drive M7 Aspar colleagues Nicky Hayden (+1.399s) and Hiroshi Aoyama (2.132s) on their ‘Open’ Honda RCV1000R machines. Hayden made a 0.65s improvement in outright pace on the final day and was generally pleased with his rhythm over race distance, but wants more competitiveness for Grand Prix competition.

Scott Redding (GO&FUN Honda Gresini), Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing), Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing), Mike Di Meglio (Avintia Racing), Danilo Petrucci (IodaRacing Project) and Paul Bird Motorsport teammates Michael Laverty and Broc Parkes featured in positions 11 to 17 respectively.

There is a Moto2 and Moto3 test this week at Jerez, completing the World Championship’s 2014 preseason – ahead of round one’s Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar (March 20-23).

2014 Qatar MotoGP Preseason Test Results (Open Class, Sunday):

PosRiderTeamFastest lapLead. GapPrev. GapLapsLast lap
1ESPARGARO, AleixNGM Mobile Forward Racing1:54.87419 / 47
2ESPARGARO, PolMonster Yamaha Tech 31:54.9070.0330.03325 / 45
3SMITH, BradleyMonster Yamaha Tech 31:55.0270.1530.12015 / 55
4BRADL, StefanLCR Honda MotoGP1:55.1870.3130.1603 / 40
5BAUTISTA, AlvaroGO&FUN Honda Gresini1:55.2320.3580.0458 / 50
6IANNONE, AndreaPramac Racing1:55.5180.6440.28629 / 59
7EDWARDS, ColinNGM Mobile Forward Racing1:55.9781.1040.46024 / 31
8HERNANDEZ, YonnyEnergy T.I. Pramac Racing1:56.0561.1820.07833 / 47
9HAYDEN, NickyDrive M7 Aspar1:56.2731.3990.21737 / 44
10AOYAMA, HiroshiDrive M7 Aspar1:57.0062.1320.73355 / 56
11REDDING, ScottGO&FUN Honda Gresini1:57.0092.1350.00325 / 50
12BARBERA, HectorAvintia Racing1:57.1422.2680.1335 / 38
13ABRAHAM, KarelCardion AB Motoracing1:57.3422.4680.20028 / 34
14DI MEGLIO, MikeAvintia Racing1:57.6692.7950.32717 / 44
15PETRUCCI, DaniloIodaRacing Project1:58.0863.2120.41742 / 55
16LAVERTY, MichaelPaul Bird Motorsport1:58.5553.6810.46916 / 30
17PARKES, BrocPaul Bird Motorsport1:58.9714.0970.4166 / 20