Though he couldn’t match the pace of Monster Energy Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales during last week’s testing sessions at Losail International Circuit, the reigning MotoGP Champion Marc Marquez was untouchable Friday for the opening practice of round 1 in Qatar.The Repsol Honda RC213V pilot posted a quickest time of 1:53.380, which became the new lap record by three tenths over the previous one set by Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pol Espargaro (2018).
Marquez, who only claimed one premier-class victory in Qatar in 2014, finished Friday 0.474 of a second ahead of Vinales. The only other rider to post under the 1:54 mark was Alama Pramac Racing Ducati’s Jack Miller, who finished third, 0.528 behind.After a delayed start due to crews cleaning up debris from Tom Luthi’s crash at turn 7 during the Moto2 practice, the 45-minute FP2 session got underway with Marquez getting immediately up to speed, posting under the 1:55 mark on lap three.This was quicker than the best time set by Monster Energy Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi in free practice one, and from there Marquez only got faster.He was surpassed once by Joan Mir on the Team Suzuki Ecstar, but Mir only held onto the top time for a few laps. Marquez returned to the top, and couldn’t be touched.Vinales beat Miller to second by 0.054, and Mission Winnow Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci followed in fourth, 0.673 behind Marquez.The top rookie was Fabio Quartararo, the Petronas Yamaha SRT rider finishing fifth, 0.774 off the pace. He was followed by the other factory Ducati GP19 pilot Andrea Dovizioso – the Italian who won last year at Qatar.Rounding out the top 10 were Petronas Yamaha SRT’s Franco Morbidelli; Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins; Aprilia Racing Team’s Aleix Espagaro; and Mir.As for Jorge Lorenzo, he ended his first official day of MotoGP free practice aboard the Repsol Honda RC213V in 11th, 1.048 seconds behind teammate Marquez. Lorenzo continues to recover from wrist surgery that he underwent over the winter break.Rossi finished back in 16th, 1.757 seconds back.The 23-rider grid returns to Losail Saturday for two additional free practice sessions ahead of qualifying.
This Podcast is also brought to you by the new modular helmet from Schuberth, the C5. The C5 blends safety with light weight and amazing quietness. Visit Schuberth.com for more information.
This week, in the first segment Editor Don Williams talks to us about the new Kawasaki Versys 650 LT. It’s the middleweight ADV style machine that uses the same 650 parallel twin motor as the Ninja 650, so it’s an excellent performer in a user-friendly, good looking package.
In the second segment, I chat with one of my dearest industry friends—now retired Honda PR executive, Jon Seidel. Jon’s fascinating career spans some 30 years with Big Red, and gave him some great experiences with some incredible machines. I was fortunate enough to be invited on many of the press launches that he organized. His new project is documenting and saving many of the old archives from years gone by—and incidentally, if you have anything that may be of value to the project, please contact us by email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll pass it all on to Jon.
So on that note, from all of us here at Ultimate Motorcycling, we hope you enjoy this episode!