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Mar 7, 2014

Aleix Espargaro Fastest On "Open-Class" Yamaha On Day One Of MotoGP Test In Qatar (Updated)

Aleix Espargaro (41).

FIM MotoGP World Championship Test

Losail International Circuit, Doha, Qatar

March 7, 2014

Day One Test Times (all on Bridgestone tires):

1. Aleix Espargaro, Spain (Forward-Yamaha), 1:55.386, Open

2. Bradley Smith, UK (Yamaha YZR-M1), 1:55.639, Factory

3. Pol Espargaro, Spain (Yamaha YZR-M1), 1:56.072, Factory

4. Alvaro Bautista, Spain (Honda RC213V), 1:56.081, Factory

5. Stefan Bradl, Germany (Honda RC213V), 1:56.081, Factory

6. Andrea Iannone, Italy (Ducati GP14), 1:56.780, Open

7. Colin Edwards, USA (Forward-Yamaha), 1:56.961, Open

8. Yonny Hernandez, Colombia (Ducati GP14), 1:57.318, Open

9. Nicky Hayden, USA (Honda RCV1000R), 1:57.574, Open

10. Scott Redding, UK (Honda RCV1000R), 1:57.922, Open

11. Hiroshi Aoyama, Japan (Honda RCV1000R), 1:58.151, Open

12. Hector Barbera, Spain (Avintia-Kawasaki), 1:58.503, Open

13. Karel Abraham, Czech Republic (Honda RCV1000R), 1:58.833, Open

14. Broc Parkes, Australia (PBM-Aprilia), 1:59.121, Open

15. Mike Di Meglio, France (Avinita-Kawasaki), 1:59.294, Open

16. Danilo Petrucci, Italy (Ioda/ART-Aprilia), 1:59.358, Open

17. Michael Laverty, UK (PBM-Aprilia), 2:00.055, Open

More, from a press release issued by NGM Mobile Forward Racing:

 Espargaro fastest in Qatar

It was a very good start for Aleix Espargaro, who finished on top of the first of three days of testing in Qatar.

Thanks to the good track and weather conditions, Aleix Espargaro and Colin Edwards could continue to work on the set up of their Forward Yamaha FTR in preparation of the opening round of the Championship that will take place at Losail circuit on the 23rd of March.

The set up found in Sepang worked very well also at Losail for Aleix Espargaro who completed 43 laps and recorded his best time of 1’55.386, ahead of Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro.

Colin Edwards was also able to improve his lap times during the day, finishing in 7th position, recording his best time of 1’56.961 on lap 31 of 34.

Colin Edwards:

“I’m quite satisfied of the work done today. We continued working, where we left in Sepang. My feeling with the bike improved, especially in the corners, and also my lap times and my position. I have more confidence with the front, this means that we are working in the right direction, but there is still a lot of work to do."

Aleix Espargaro:

“It was a very productive day. I was not so fast at the beginning, but when I put the hard front tyre I could find the same feeling as in Sepang and I could start to push. The feeling with both hard and soft tyre is good so I’m confident for the start of the season and the first races."

More, from a press release issued by Monster Yamaha Tech 3:

Smith and Espargaro within the top 3 on the opening day

Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team’s Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro continued their impressive pre-season today at the Losail Circuit, Qatar. This week’s test, in which only the Satellite and Open Class MotoGP riders are attending, marks the final testing session before the start of the MotoGP season on the 23rd of March.

Young British rider Bradley Smith’s tireless efforts, established himself as the 2nd quickest MotoGP rider today in Qatar. He completed 53 laps of the circuit, and sent a reminder to the top MotoGP riders of his intentions this season. Although the track was initially dirty and lacked traction, it later cleared and the grip improved. This allowed the young British rider to complete today’s session with a fastest lap of 1:55.639 which was 0.253 of a second off the leading time.

Reigning Moto2 World Champion Pol Espargaro again furthered his impressive transition from the intermediate class to the top category. Completing 62 laps, the young Spanish rider worked relentlessly, together with the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team, in getting as much track time as possible before the opening round later this month. Having only ridden the Yamaha YZR-M1 at Sepang this year, the change of location to Qatar and the cooler conditions allowed him to expand his knowledge of the MotoGP bike and ride more comfortably. Espargaro set a best time of 1:56.072, and finished the session in 3rd place, only 0.686 of a second off the quickest lap time.

The next testing session commences tomorrow at 16:00 until 23:00 at the Losail Circuit, Qatar (local time – GMT +3).

Bradley Smith- 1:55.639 – 2nd:

“Today was a good day. I am happy that the base setup worked immediately here, which means we did a good job in Sepang and so, we didn’t have to make many changes. The track condition was better than I expected and after an hour the track was in much better shape, which is positive as it means we can have a good test here. It was a bit frustrating to be fastest for nearly the whole day, and then getting passed so close to the end, but there are still two days to go. Tomorrow we will try bike 1 and bike 2 and make a few more changes. I am really happy with the setup as it is, but I want to make sure it is the right way, and that’s why we need to play with the geometry of the bike a little more. I will definitely do the race simulation on the last day, and possibly another one tomorrow too.”

Pol Espargaro – 1:56.072 – 3rd:

“I am very happy with how today went, as it was my first time here on a MotoGP bike. I am pleased to be riding somewhere other than Sepang, as it allows me to explore the bike more. There is still a lot to learn, and the main aim during the next 2 days is to make me ride a bit smoother as this is how the Yamaha goes fast. I am still fighting a bit too much with the bike, but I need to become one with it, which is what I am going to work on. Overall, the bike worked well today and the team helped me a lot with adapting to this circuit so quickly.” 

More, from a press release issued by Dorna:

Aleix Espargaro leads as Qatar test gets underway

The first day of MotoGP™ testing at Qatar saw Aleix Espargaro leading the way with an 1’55.386s best time towards the end of the evening at the desert circuit

Just under two weeks before the season opening Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar commences this test sees 17 premier class riders making their final preparations for the forthcoming campaign, in the absence of the Ducati Team, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP and Repsol Honda outfits.

Those Factory teams have already finalised their preseason at Phillip Island this week and Friday’s opening test session saw Espargaro prove yet again the threat he will pose this season, if his winter speed is anything to go by.

The NGM Mobile Forward Racing man was over two tenths ahead of his nearest rival on the Open entry Yamaha, with a time less than a second off Jorge Lorenzo’s 2013 Qatar pole lap – on a track which should produce even faster times over the next two days.

With the racing line cleared of any sand and with further rubber laid down on the track the pace is likely to increase as this test progresses.

A slower start was made on Friday with Danilo Petrucci the IodaRacing Project rider the only man to circulate in the first hour in hot temperatures and in the daylight, before 5pm.

The faster times came in the last two hours of the outing as the temperature dropped and the floodlights came into full effect.

Behind the older Espargaro brother were Monster Yamaha Tech 3 pair Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro, Aleix’s younger sibling - the YZR-M1 equipped duo lapping within 0.253s and 0.686s of P1 respectively.

Completing the top five were GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista and LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl with identical 1’56.081 best laps. Both riders ran with ‘Sepang 2’ test settings on Friday and will look to adapt their machines to optimal Qatar configuration over the coming 48 hours.

Andrea Iannone was sixth best and it will be interesting to see what his best time is before the end of this test on the ‘Open’ Ducati with an Extra-Soft tyre.

Rounding out the top ten were NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards (+1.575s), Energy T.I. Pramac Racing’s Yonny Hernandez (+1.932s), Drive M7 Aspar’s Nicky Hayden (+2.188s) and GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Scott Redding (+2.536s).

More, from a press release issued by Drive M7 Aspar Team:


DRIVE M7 riders start final preseason test with geometry improvements

The final test of the MotoGP preseason began tonight with all riders other than the five present at Phillip Island during the week out on track together in Qatar. Even though the Losail session was scheduled to run from 2pm until 10pm the decision was taken to push things back and the track opened at 4pm, closing at 11pm, given the evening schedule for the Grand Prix. Most teams waited until sunset to begin an evening's work that saw Aleix Espargaró clocking the fastest time ahead of Bradley Smith

At around 6pm the DRIVE M7 Aspar Team's two riders took to the track to kickstart their evening's work, which continued until 11pm and consisted of 48 laps for Nicky Hayden and 55 for Hiroshi Aoyama. Once again their main focus was on chassis set-up, as well as suspension and swingarm adjustments, which all moved forward as planned. Hayden finished the evening with the ninth fastest time, with Aoyama in eleventh.

9th Nicky Hayden 1.57.574 (48 laps): “It was a pretty positive session, we were able to make small improvements every time we went out on track. The engine we had in came to the end of its life and we had to switch it, so we spent some time with the second bike and had to change a few components across. The feeling with the second bike wasn't as good as we would have hoped but even so I am happy that we have taken some important steps forward. We have to keep working to improve the engine braking and gain some more confidence in corner entry.”

11th Hiroshi Aoyama 1.58.151 (55 laps): “Today we started out with a similar set-up to Malaysia. For the first few hours the track was pretty dirty but as the evening wore on the conditions improved. We worked hard on the suspension and geometry settings and I am happy because we have gained confidence and stability under braking. Thanks to this I was able to improve my pace. Tomorrow the goal is to get the bike turning better, especially from the middle of the corner to the end.”

More, from a press release issued by Scott Redding's publicist:

Scott happy with first night shift in Qatar

Scott Redding declared himself happy with progress during the opening night of testing at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar, after closing to within 0.3s of the fastest open class Honda rider, Nicky Hayden.

Hayden is an important benchmark for Redding, as the former MotoGP World Champion is campaigning an almost identical Honda RCV1000R to the 21-year-old Briton this season, but has far more experience in the premier class.

Today was Scott’s first experience of the Losail circuit aboard the Honda RCV1000R, but with the base set up from Sepang also working well in Qatar, the MotoGP rookie was able to concentrate on refining the front-end set up of the bike, setting a personal best of 1’57.922 to end the opening day tenth on the timesheet.

Scott Redding // 1’57.922 // 38 Laps

“It was good to get out on the Honda RCV1000R on a new track today, in very different conditions to the heat and humidity we had to contend with in Malaysia. Overall I’m pretty happy with today’s test, although I was starting to push the front a lot as my pace increased. We need to find a bit more edge grip from the front tomorrow. Engine power is still not really good, but it’s on a par with the other open class Hondas and I’m happy to have closed the gap to Nicky Hayden today. The brakes worked well from the first exit, so I’m happy with them. Tomorrow we will focus on improving the feeling with the front, and we will try to close a little more on Nicky.”

More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda:


Doha, 7 March: Losail International circuit hosts the final MotoGP pre-season test with 17 premier class Teams and riders (Factory riders from Honda, Yamaha and Ducati ended their pre-season test in Phillip Island some days ago) involved in their prototypes last adjustments before the opening race at the same venue on the 23 of March. The three-night test in Qatar is the last chance for LCR racer Stefan Bradl to fine tune his RC213V ahead the first round and the German has been putting his new bike through the pace since 4.00 pm local time continuing the set-up process till 11pm. At the end od day one Bradl produced a best lap time of 1’56.081 qualifying 5th overall.

Stefan: “At the beginning the track surface was very dusty and we also preferred to wait till 6pm for cooler temperatures. On one side we are quite happy about our consistency but we actually miss edge grip to lap faster. This will be our main focus in tomorrow’s second outing: the tyre dropped down too quickly (probably I went out on new rubber a bit late and the humidity changed the conditions) and I need more grip to set a proper fast lap time on a new tyre”.