2014 Qatar MotoGP Friday Practice ResultsThe Open-option riders were expected to be quick during the first free practice at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit for the opening round of 2014 MotoGP. Why? They had a three-day preseason test at the desert circuit without the Factory option riders, allowing them to get a jump on setup.
But after three practices – one Thursday and two Friday – the Factory-option riders can not gain any ground on the Open machines. And they certainly can’t gain any ground the man who led every session so far – NGM Forward Racing Yamaha’s Aleix Espargaro.The Spaniard, who also led all the Open-option machines throughout the preseason, dominated Friday’s free practice sessions. In 2014 Qatar MotoGP FP2 earlier on Friday, he posted a best of 1:54.989, finishing over 0.3 of a second ahead of Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso (Factory backing but under Open option).And things only got quicker during the final practice of Friday; in FP3, Espargaro posted a 1:54.773 around the 3.34-mile desert circuit containing 16 corners.Not so surprising, the next three bikes were also Open-option machines. Pramac Racing Ducati’s Andrea Iannone followed 0.413 of a second back, Go&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista 0.467 of a second back, and Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso 0.477 of a second back. Dovi, along with teammate Cal Crutchlow, were not at the Qatar preseason test with the other Open-option machines, making his time that more impressive.The reigning MotoGP Champion Marc Marquez was the top Factory option rider, the 21-year-old Spaniard piloting his RC213V to a 1:55.446 around Losail. As Marquez recovers from a broken leg sustained in a dirt-track training incident six weeks ago, he ended Friday 0.673 off Aleix Espargaro’s time.Though Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradley Smith suffered a huge highside at turn 5, he was able to post the sixth-quickest time, finishing 0.701 off the top time.Two-time MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo was next. The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP pilot, who won the last two meetings at Losail, continues to struggle. He posted a 1:55.495, following Aleix Espargaro 0.722 of second back.Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa finished eight Friday due to his best FP2 time. Making into the top 10 – which is important for Saturday’s qualifying – Lorenzo’s teammate Valentino Rossi and LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl. These top-10 riders automatically enter Qualifying 2 on Saturday.Pol Espargaro and the man he replaced on the Tech3 Yamaha, Cal Crutchlow, now on the Ducati Team GP14, finished 11th and 12th, respectively. Due to this, they will not automatically enter Q2. Crutchlow crashed at turn 10, but will be back on the track Saturday.As for the Americans, Dive M7 Aspar Honda’s Nicky Hayden finished 13th, 1.584 seconds behind Aleix, and the other NGM Forward Racing Yamaha rider, Colin Edwards, 14th, 1.6 seconds back.The 23-rider grid will return to Losail Saturday for another Free Practice Session ahead of qualifying.2014 Qatar MotoGP Free Practice 3 Results:
This week, Senior Editor Nic de Sena rides the all new Ducati Monster. Big changes have been made by Ducati–has the company ruined the considerable heritage of the iconic Monster–or are the changes worth it? In the second part of the show, we chat with Nick Ienatsch, Founder and Head Instructor at the Yamaha Champions Riding School. He says: “We aim to change your riding life by introducing you to Champions Habits: The techniques, approaches, skills, and the mindsets of the best riders in the world. These Champions Habits are the foundation of safety and consistency to whatever speed you ride, in any venue on any bike. Street riders, this is just as much for you as track riders. The best way to make safe riders is to make good riders.“ We hope you enjoy this episode!