Two-time defending MotoGP Champion Marc Marquez continued his typical ways during the opening round of 2015 MotoGP at Losail International Circuit in Qatar.
The 21-year-old Repsol Honda RC213V led all three free practices, and set the fastest lap during Friday’s final free practice (FP3) with a 1:54.822. Nothing new for the Spaniard, but more impressive were the following three riders who followed Marquez.
Taking second just 0.096 of a second back was Cal Crutchlow on the satellite CWM LCR Honda. Crutchlow was followed by Ducati Team’s Andrea Iannone, who trailed Marquez by 0.170 of a second aboard the Ducati GP15, and – the big shocker – Team Suzuki Ecstar GSX-RR pilot Aleix Espargaro, who was 0.172 of a second off the top time.
Iannone posted his time just before losing the front end of his GP15 at Losail, preventing any chance of rider quicker. As for Espargaro, he just proved that Suzuki is back in the game – during qualifying, anyway.
Marquez even commented on how close the times were: “Today has been a very good day, because we have improved our pace –which is the most important thing– and tried out a few things that have allowed us to progress. We will see tomorrow if the track conditions stay the same or improve, but today we saw times that were very close; I think that tomorrow they will be even closer. The most important thing will be to continue like this and prepare for Sunday’s race.”
Following these shocking front-runners were two factory bikes – Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa, who trailed by 0.202 of a second, and Ducati Team’s Andrea Dovizioso, who was a further 0.222 of second back.
Pramac Racing Ducati’s Yonny Hernandez finished seventh quickest, 0.280 of a second back, followed by the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP duo of two-time MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo and nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi. Lorenzo trailed by 0.286 of a second, and Rossi was 0.370 of a second off the pace.
Rounding out the top 10 was Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Pol Espargaro, who was 0.506 of a second back.
Avintia Racing Ducati’s Hector Barbera was the leading Open class rider in 11th (-0.574), followed by Scott Redding (12th +0.625 of second) and Maverick Viñales (13th +0.854 of a second).
As for former Kawasaki World Superbike pilot Loris Baz, the Athinia Forward Racing Yamaha rider crashed at turn 2, and was taken to the Medical Centre for an x-ray on a suspected broken finger.
The sole American in 2015 MotoGP – Aspar MotoGP’s Nicky Hayden – finished the day 16th fastest, 0.967 of a second behind Marquez; the Kentuckian was also the final rider to post within a second of Marquez.
The 25-rider grid (lacking Baz) will be back on Losail Saturday evening for another free practice ahead of qualifying.
2015 Qatar MotoGP Free Practice 3 Results:
|1||93||Marc MARQUEZ||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||345.0||1’54.822|
|2||35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||GBR||CWM LCR Honda||Honda||339.7||1’54.918||0.096 / 0.096|
|3||29||Andrea IANNONE||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||345.0||1’54.992||0.170 / 0.074|
|4||41||Aleix ESPARGARO||SPA||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||331.1||1’54.994||0.172 / 0.002|
|5||26||Dani PEDROSA||SPA||Repsol Honda Team||Honda||345.4||1’55.024||0.202 / 0.030|
|6||4||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||ITA||Ducati Team||Ducati||344.1||1’55.044||0.222 / 0.020|
|7||68||Yonny HERNANDEZ||COL||Pramac Racing||Ducati||344.2||1’55.102||0.280 / 0.058|
|8||99||Jorge LORENZO||SPA||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||335.2||1’55.108||0.286 / 0.006|
|9||46||Valentino ROSSI||ITA||Movistar Yamaha MotoGP||Yamaha||336.8||1’55.192||0.370 / 0.084|
|10||44||Pol ESPARGARO||SPA||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||340.2||1’55.328||0.506 / 0.136|
|11||8||Hector BARBERA||SPA||Avintia Racing||Ducati||342.9||1’55.396||0.574 / 0.068|
|12||45||Scott REDDING||GBR||EG 0,0 Marc VDS||Honda||341.6||1’55.447||0.625 / 0.051|
|13||25||Maverick VIÑALES||SPA||Team SUZUKI ECSTAR||Suzuki||333.1||1’55.676||0.854 / 0.229|
|14||6||Stefan BRADL||GER||Athinà Forward Racing||Yamaha Forward||335.5||1’55.694||0.872 / 0.018|
|15||9||Danilo PETRUCCI||ITA||Pramac Racing||Ducati||341.6||1’55.777||0.955 / 0.083|
|16||69||Nicky HAYDEN||USA||Aspar MotoGP Team||Honda||330.8||1’55.789||0.967 / 0.012|
|17||63||Mike DI MEGLIO||FRA||Avintia Racing||Ducati||341.3||1’55.866||1.044 / 0.077|
|18||38||Bradley SMITH||GBR||Monster Yamaha Tech 3||Yamaha||339.9||1’55.905||1.083 / 0.039|
|19||50||Eugene LAVERTY||IRL||Aspar MotoGP Team||Honda||331.6||1’55.913||1.091 / 0.008|
|20||17||Karel ABRAHAM||CZE||AB Motoracing||Honda||332.3||1’56.080||1.258 / 0.167|
|21||43||Jack MILLER||AUS||CWM LCR Honda||Honda||331.1||1’56.162||1.340 / 0.082|
|22||76||Loris BAZ||FRA||Athinà Forward Racing||Yamaha Forward||332.3||1’57.072||2.250 / 0.910|
|23||19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||SPA||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||329.8||1’57.107||2.285 / 0.035|
|24||15||Alex DE ANGELIS||RSM||Octo IodaRacing Team||ART||323.5||1’57.509||2.687 / 0.402|
|25||33||Marco MELANDRI||ITA||Aprilia Racing Team Gresini||Aprilia||329.9||1’59.339||4.517 / 1.830|