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Mar 18, 2016

Iannone Shuffles The Order In MotoGP FP2 In Qatar (Updated)

Andrea Iannone (29).

FIM MotoGP World Championship

Losail International Circuit, Qatar

March 18, 2016

Free Practice Two Results (all on Michelin tires):

1. Andrea IANNONE, Italy (DUCATI), 1:55.388

2. Marc MARQUEZ, Spain (HONDA), 1:55.401

3. Scott REDDING, UK (DUCATI), 1:55.511

4. Maverick VIÑALES, Spain (SUZUKI), 1:55.644

5. Andrea DOVIZIOSO, Italy (DUCATI), 1:55.721

6. Dani PEDROSA, Spain (HONDA), 1:55.764

7. Valentino ROSSI, Italy (YAMAHA), 1:55.883

8. Hector BARBERA, Spain (DUCATI), 1:55.919

9. Jorge LORENZO, Spain (YAMAHA), 1:55.934

10. Danilo PETRUCCI, Italy (DUCATI), 1:56.258

11. Aleix ESPARGARO, Spain (SUZUKI), 1:56.293

12. Pol ESPARGARO, Spain (YAMAHA), 1:56.324

13. Cal CRUTCHLOW, UK (HONDA), 1:56.489, crash

14. Yonny HERNANDEZ, Colombia (DUCATI), 1:56.558

15. Loris BAZ, France (DUCATI), 1:56.623, crash

16. Bradley SMITH, UK (YAMAHA), 1:56.728

17. Jack MILLER, Australia (HONDA), 1:56.900

18. Alvaro BAUTISTA, Spain (APRILIA), 1:57.012

19. Tito RABAT, Spain (HONDA), 1:57.429

20. Stefan BRADL, Germany (APRILIA), 1:57.541

21. Eugene LAVERTY, Ireland (DUCATI), 1:57.722

More, from a press release issued by Aprilia:



Losail (Qatar), 18 March 2016 - On the Losail track, in preparation for the Qatar GP that will kick off the MotoGP World Championship on Sunday, the second day of practice was held with two sessions today, FP2 and FP3.

Aprilia has the new RS-GP bikes on the grid for their maiden race weekend and they have continued to improve their times session after session. In the three sessions held yesterday and today, the Aprilia V4 machines demonstrated consistent progress on the clock both with Bautista (1’57.129 - 1’57.012 - 1’56.749), and with Bradl (1’57.989 - 1’57.541 - 1’57.069). This is good feedback for a project that is taking its first steps with margins for improvement that are still just waiting to be discovered.

The Aprilia Racing Team Gresini riders put in a total of 77 laps today (34 for Alvaro and 33 for Stefan), confirming the increasing reliability of the RS-GP, a first step on which to set up development in terms of performance as well.


“We're working nonstop trying to find the best sensations in the saddle. The bike is so new that we discover something new on every lap. The results today are that, in terms of race pace I'm rather satisfied. The pace is good with a used tyre. When we tried to improve times with a new tyre we were lacking on the fast lap. Basically I had the same feeling that I had with the tyre that had done 22 laps. In any case, we are achieving our goal, which is to get in as many laps as possible to streamline development”.


“In each session we are improving by almost half a second. I am feeling better and better on the RS-GP. Unfortunately the feeling yesterday was not as I had expected, so we got off to a bit of a slow start, but now we are making up ground. This makes me optimistic. We still have a long way to go, but if we can keep growing at this pace I'm sure we'll be able to get there quickly. Another positive factor is that we are able to solve every small problem that comes up quickly. Of course, we lose a few precious moments during the sessions but we are getting closer and closer to the ideal base set up”.

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

Tech3 duo power on under the flood lights at Qatar

The Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith faced the second day of action at the 2016 season opener today and rode at full speed as they both pushed all the way to the end of FP3.

Pol Espargaro kicked off the day by conducting further adjustments to his Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP bike and concluded free practice two in 10th overall. Then, later today, the young Spaniard confidently leapt into action when FP3 began as he was determined to pass directly through to QP2. After a relentless effort, Espargaro’s fastest lap left him just over six tenths from third position and the 25 year old will now seek to follow up his positive form by clinching a solid qualifying position tomorrow.

On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team pit box, Bradley Smith gave his all throughout the day as he continued the tireless work in preparation for the 22 lap sprint on Sunday. The young Briton commenced the third free practice fully focused and when the chequered flag fell, his fastest time was only 0.029 back from his teammate. Nevertheless, Smith confidently awaits qualifying one tomorrow with the aim to join his teammate in the all important final qualifying session.

Pol Espargaro

Position : 10th Time : 1'55.476 Laps : 19

Pol EspargaroPol Espargaro - 2016"It goes without saying that I'm pleased with the final result as I'm straight through to QP2, which is especially important when considering how things went today. During the first session, it took us a bit of time to get up to speed, mainly due to the fact that we were using the compound that I liked less than the other because we wanted to keep as many of those tyres as possible for FP3 and the upcoming days. However, in the end, I decided to not stop during the final stages of FP3 because for some reason, I'm faster on used Michelin tyres than new ones. This is a completely new situation for me as it was the opposite with Bridgestone where I was able to post one fast lap, but then I usually struggled at the end of the races. Therefore, today, I continued to ride until I ran the lap time I wanted, but at that point there were just four minutes until to the chequered flag fell and I had to come back to the garage. I couldn't continue any longer because there was the risk that I would run out of fueI as didn't stop before, which I was supposed to do. Yet, altogether we can be satisfied because we were able to post our time with an old tyre and after a lot of laps, but still we need to improve in FP4 tomorrow as everybody is really close together so we need to make some steps forward."

Bradley Smith

Position : 12th Time : 1'55.505 Laps : 20

Bradley Smith - 2016Bradley Smith "Of course, I would have preferred to finish today inside the top ten, but the team did a good job and we are confident for tomorrow. To be honest, we struggled a bit in FP2, but then we made some changes and slowly in the third practice I started to feel more comfortable. In the first part of that session, I did a long run with the hard tyre and then switched over to the soft compound, and immediately I was quick. However, I unfortunately made a small mistake during braking into turn six which caused me to fall and it meant that I had to use my second bike with only nine minutes remaining. I actually felt a bit better on it, but we still need to improve and make some modifications in order to get the best out of the Yamaha in the fast corners, especially in sectors 3 and 4. This will be our aim for FP4 and we will try to gain a bit in those areas. I will have to go through QP1 so I need to focus on riding a strong lap there to be able to progress to qualifying 2 tomorrow.”

More, from a press release issued by Pramac Racing:

Up and down Friday at Doha. Scott directly qualified to Q2. Petrux forced to miss the race

On the one hand, joy for Scott Redding who qualified directly for Q2 in his first GP with his new Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati Desmosedici GP. On the other hand, the bad news of Danilo Petrucci’s injury: he will not be able to race on Sunday at Losail International Circuit due to a problem with his right hand.

Petrux ended FP3 feeling strong pain. After the end of the practice, an X-ray follow-up highlighted a dislocated bone segment of the third metacarpal of his right hand. A problem that will force Petrux to miss the opening race.

Scott Redding will watch the first Q1 of the season from his garage thanks to ninth place at the end of FP3, which will allow him to fight for the pole position tomorrow.

It was a very positive day for Scott who began his Friday with the third fastest time recorded in FP2. In the second session, the British rider managed to shave another two-tenths of a second from his time to finish with a time of 1’55.399. Scott could also have done better on the last lap of the FP3 but he crashed without consequences at Turn 13.

9° - Scott Redding - 1:55.399

I'm happy to have qualified directly to Q2. I’m sorry for the crash but it happens sometimes because if you do not try you never win. Probably it would have been a laptime around 55.0/55.1. But I don’t care. Tomorrow I want to make a great qualifying. I'm happy for the work we have done in these first two days.

More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:

 Progress for Repsol Honda riders on night 2 in Qatar

Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa had a positive second night of practice at Losail Circuit, setting the third and sixth best lap times, respectively, in the FP3 session, which decides the top 10 riders that transfer directly into tomorrow’s Q2 session.

After making a step forward in the FP2 session, Marc continued improving over the course of the evening, putting in some very consistent laps with a best effort of 1’54.835, while Dani posted his best lap time of 1’55.113, just over two-and-a-half tenths down on his teammate.

The 30-minute FP4 and 15-minute Q2 sessions await the Repsol Honda duo tomorrow at 7:55 p.m. and 9 p.m. local time, before Round 1 of the MotoGP World Championship gets underway on Sunday at 9:00 p.m.

Marc Marquez

3RD 1'54.835

"Today the feeling was like at the test we did two weeks ago. As soon as we went out for FP2, we changed the setup modification we made yesterday and I finally felt much better. We continued to work well, our pace is not bad and we entered directly into Q2, which is positive because this year everything is very tight on the timesheets. Tomorrow we must continue to improve our pace and we have to decide which front and rear tyre to use. From there, we will see if we can take another step forward. We are not far from the fight for the podium."

Dani Pedrosa

6TH 1'55.113

"Today we were able to use the practice time better; we rode faster than yesterday and we improved our times in the two sessions. The positive thing is that we were able understand the bike a little better and we improved the setup of the bike, although there are still many things to do. Tomorrow we must continue working to progress even more. The track was in good condition and continues to get better as we put in more and more laps."

More, from a press release issued by Dorna:

Iannone throws down the gauntlet

Asserting himself as the fastest man again under the desert floodlights was Iannone who set a 1’54.639 to lead from Lorenzo and Marquez as times tumble.

After a productive first session, the MotoGP™ World Championship riders went into FP3 ready to fight for the top ten. A top ten finish on the combined times of the first three Free Practice sessions guarantees a direct pass into Q2, now more important than ever as almost every rider on the grid is capable of a single fast lap thanks to the new rules.

Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) and Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) had both set the pace in Free Practice 1 and Free Practice 2 with Iannone’s 1’55.388 the fastest time heading into the session. Soft tyres were fitted early in the session and Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) improved almost immediately.

But as is almost tradition now, the times truly began to fall in the final 15 minutes. Times quickly dropped into the mid 1’55s until Jorge Lorenzo threw down the gauntlet with five minutes remaining and set a 1’54.776. Andrea Iannone proved to be Lorenzo’s undoing, the Ducati man setting a blistering 1’54.639 to lead the session. Iannone was also able to hit 348.1 km/h, the fastest top speed of any rider in the session.

Lorenzo’s 1’54.776 was good enough to conclude the day in second and comfortably advance through to Q2 directly. Unlike his Movistar Yamaha MotoGP teammate, Lorenzo is running winglets this weekend.

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was able to overcome many of his and Honda’s problems to set the third fastest time and finish within 0.2s of Iannone. Time are incredibly close in the MotoGP™ field, the new unified Magneti Marelli software allowing more riders than ever to be towards the front.

Both the factory Ducatis are looking strong here in Qatar with Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) ending Friday as the fourth fastest rider. Although he initially struggled to get up to speed in testing, Dovizioso is now showing well and able to push in each session, his 407 laps in testing beginning to pay off.

Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was the only other rider to drop into the 1’54s as he set a 1’54.976 to end the day fifth and 0.337s back on Iannone’s time. Throughout the weekend Viñales has been a considerable distance ahead of his teammate, his talent shining through despite this being only his second year in the premier class.

One of the first riders to improve, Pedrosa eventually ended FP3 in sixth and ahead of Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP). Rossi was just over half a second behind Iannone’s time as none of the factory riders had a clear advantage.

Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing), Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) and Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) completed the top ten and will all head into Q2 directly.

Disaster struck for Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) with just over ten minutes remaining as the Brit fell at Turn 6. He was unharmed and able to improve his time, ending 12th. There was also a fall for Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) as he pushed for a final fast lap, the Australian walking away from Turn 9 unhurt. Redding also fell in the dying stages of the session at Turn 13, again avoiding injury.

Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) was declared unfit to race, his hand still causing him difficulties.

Free Practice 4 at 19:55 Local Time will be the next time the MotoGP™ riders are on track, Qualifying beginning at 20:35 Local Time on the same Saturday.

Lowes controls Moto2™ Free Practice 3 in Qatar

Tight times in Moto2™ once again as Lowes leads FP3 from Luthi and Baldassarri, the Brit faster than his own Moto2™ lap record.

With just a single session on Friday, riders in the Moto2™ World Championship eagerly got to work in Free Practice 3. With both MotoGP™ and Moto3™ having run before them, track conditions were well suited for setting a fast lap, Tom Luthi (Garage Plus Interwetten) setting the provisional best time of the weekend on just his third lap.

This time wouldn’t stand for the entire session as Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) went under his own Circuit Best Lap with a 1’59.262, over a tenth faster than his 2015 pole time. Lowes has been strong in both testing and practice in Qatar, the Brit showing no ill effects of his two crashes on Thursday.

0.211s back on the Gresini rider was Tom Luthi, the Swiss rider’s early 1’59.473 good enough to hold him in second, both in the session and on combined times. Luthi has classically gone well at the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar with three podium finishes, two coming in 2014 and 2015.

Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Team) was also able to improve his best time from Friday to set a 1’59.517 and end only 0.255s off Lowes’ time. With 19 laps under his belt, the young Italian completed the second most laps of any rider in the third practice session.

Fourth in both FP3 and the combined times was Marcel Schrotter (AGR Team), the German able to improve his time by over half a second from Thursday. This put him ahead of fellow German Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) who, although he was fifth in the session, was unable to improve his Thursday time which saw him finish fifth on combined times.

Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40), Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport), Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) and Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) rounded out the top ten, all under the 2’00 barrier.

The next time Moto2™ will be back on the Losail International Circuit will be at 18:55 Local Time on Saturday the 19th for Qualifying. With the pole record time already eclipsed, no doubt the 45-minute shootout will produce more thrilling times.

First day of Moto3™ wraps up with Loi on top

Quartararo leads Moto3™ FP3 from rivals Binder and Loi with Loi’s FP2 time still the fastest of the weekend.

As a result of the night race at the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar, a revised schedule is necessary. Riders in the Moto3™ World Championship had just a single session on Friday. They flooded out of the pits as the session began, all hunting to best Livio Loi’s (RW Racing GP) 2’05.832 from FP2.

It was Fabio Quartararo (Leopard Racing) who set the pace in Free Practice 3, the only rider to dip below the 2’06 barrier in the session with a 2’05.859. The French rider was one of only two riders inside the top ten to improve their time in FP3, but still unable to dislodge Loi from the top spot.

Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was 0.221s back on Quartararo as the pair made it a KTM one-two in the session. Livio Loi continued to show well as he set the third fastest time, the Belgian rider leading the way on the combined time sheets.

As riders head into Qualifying on Saturday it is the Belgian who leads the way overall with Quartararo just behind, the pair the only two to set laps in the 2’05s. Quartararo was 0.027s behind Loi as Binder completed the combined top three.

Rookies Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) and Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) continued to impress on their full time World Championship debut as they head into Qualifying with the fourth and fifth fastest times across the opening three sessions.

Romano Fenati (Sky Racing Team VR46), Francesco Bagnaia (Aspar Mahindra Team Moto3), Andrea Locatelli (Leopard Racing), Jakub Kornfeil (Drive M7 SIC Racing Team) and Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold) completed the combined top ten.

Turn 10 saw an early crash for both Darryn Binder (Platinum Bay Real Estate) and John McPhee (Peugeot MC Saxoprint). Antonelli suffered a heavy fall at Turn 7 with Adam Norrodin (Drive M7 SIC Racing Team) falling soon after at Turn 9. Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) fell at Turn 6 and ended his session early.

Moto3™ will next be on track at 18:00 Local Time on Saturday the 19th of March for Qualifying.

More, from a press release issued by Movistar Yamaha:


Movistar Yamaha MotoGP‘s Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi continued preparing for their 2016 racing campaign today ahead of Sunday‘s Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar. The teammates used the two 45-minute practice sessions at the Losail International Circuit to further amend their YZR-M1s set-ups and ended the day in second and seventh place respectively in the combined session times.

Losail (Qatar), 18th March 2016

After yesterday‘s strong results, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP‘s Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi were keen to get down to business today in the second and third free practice session. They‘re main goal for the sessions was to improve the tyre life, while gaining more experience on the YZR-M1s with Michelin tyres, crucial for the tyre choice come Sunday‘s race. In the afternoon they moved their attention towards setting a fast time to promote directly to tomorrow‘s Qualifying 2 session and the riders finished the day in second and seventh respectively.

Lorenzo started FP2 with the same approach as he tackled FP1; he waited for the entire field to head out of pit lane before mounting his YZR-M1. Though the start to the session was similar, his target for the session was different. Yesterday the Majorcan aimed to show off his blistering pace, today he spent the earlier evening session adapting his setting to his personal preferences. Despite windy conditions somewhat slowing his pace, he ended the first Friday session with a fastest lap of 1‘55.934s, 0.494s slower than his time from yesterday.

The triple and reigning MotoGP World Champion improved in the second 45-minute outing of the day when he battled for a top ten position in the ranking order. After getting a feel for what the track will be like during Sunday‘s race, he put his head down with ten minutes to go and rode a strong stint, securing second place with a incredible lap of 1‘54.776s, just 0.137s behind today‘s leader.

Rossi had a very similar experience to his teammate. When he took to the track it soon became clear that finding front end grip will play an important role in the preparation for Sunday‘s race, which was highlighted when the Doctor skillfully pulled off a big save in turn nine. He completed three runs, trying multiple tyre options and turned up the pace at the very end. He finished FP2 in seventh position with a 1‘55.883 lap, but was unable to improve on yesterday‘s time.

Although the nine-time World Champion faced some technical issues later in the evening, he pushed on in the FP3 session. In sync with the rest of the pack, he headed out on track to do a time attack in the final ten minutes of the track action. He ended the incredibly close third free practice session, that finished with the complete top10 finishing within 0.837s of each other, posting his best lap of the weekend so far. His 1‘55.175s lap puts him in seventh place 0.536s off the front.

Tomorrow the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP teammates will be back on track from 19:55 to 20:25 local track time (GMT+3) for Free Practice 4, followed by the Qualifying 2 session from 21:00 to 21:15.



Today was a little more challenging than we initially expected, but overall we did well. We focused on working on the front tyre and compared two specifications with both riders and they both chose the one for the race. We compared also different bike balance set ups, finding improvements throughout the day in braking and in stability. Jorge and Vale‘s pace were very consistent today and also their final times were quite fast, but as the margins are so small here, there is still some work left for us to do. So far I feel positive about our performance, but we will need to make another step tomorrow for the time attack.


In the first practice there was some wind and we struggled a lot to be competitive compared to the other riders, it looked like the wind affected them less. In the evening, especially in the last laps, there was no wind and we were able to be competitive and try different tyres. Finally we have an idea of which compound is better for the race, but I would like to improve my pace a little bit more. We are in the top group, but I would like to have an advantage. Let‘s see if we can do it tomorrow before qualifying.


Today was a bit more difficult, especially in Free Practice 2. We tried something else, but we expected the tyre to be a bit harder. Unfortunately it didn‘t work, I didn‘t like it, so we had to come back and we worked a lot on the bike. Free Practice 3 was a bit more positive for me. Unfortunately I had a problem with my first bike with the engine, so we had to change bike, but with the second bike I felt good. I had a good pace, especially with the medium tyre on the rear and I think we are quite competitive. After that we put on a softer tyre, but I wasn‘t able to do the perfect lap so this means we‘re not OK with the setting and we have work to do, but we‘re in the top ten, this is important. We have Free Practice 4 tomorrow to improve the setting to better the bike, because it will be very important to start from the front and not too far behind, if not, things will become very difficult.

More, from a press release issued by Ducati Corse:

Ducati Team riders on excellent form in Qatar: quickest time for Andrea Iannone on second day of free practice at Losail circuit, Dovizioso fourth

Andrea Iannone was in superb form on day 2 of free practice at the Losail circuit, the Italian rider setting the quickest time in both of today’s sessions (FP2 and FP3) and proving to have an excellent pace. His team-mate Andrea Dovizioso was not far behind either: after finishing fifth in FP2, he then moved up to fourth in FP3, three-tenths of a second away from Iannone.

As a result, both Ducati Team men go through directly into Q2, which will determine the first four rows for Sunday’s race, and which will start at 9pm local time (19.00 CET) tomorrow.

Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team #29) – 1’54.639 (1st)

“We finished the three free practice sessions with the best time and so for us today was a very positive day. We are working really well and our bike is going very strongly, so now we have to continue along this path and make further improvements. In FP2 we went very well with the hard tyre, then in FP3 we also tried the soft option, but it is still difficult to choose which one we will use for the race. For the moment I am calm and relaxed about the situation because also in the tests I always used the hard tyre and yesterday with the same choice of tyre we didn’t go bad at all. Tomorrow we will use the FP4 session to make the final decision.”

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team # 04) – 1’54.945 (4th)

“I am very pleased with all the work we’ve done and with the progress we have made in our performance: we made small steps but all of them have been in the right direction. We arrived at the third free practice session with a fast pace and above all with a good feeling with the Desmosedici GP, and this has always been my priority. We have always set some good lap times and in my final run I could have improved even more if I hadn’t made a little mistake in Turn 15. I am in any case satisfied because we are up there with the quickest riders and we still have a margin to improve, and with this pace now we can focus on the fine-tuning for the race.”

More, from a press release issued by Avintia Racing:

Barbera moves to Q2 straight away, Baz intends to follow tomorrow

After a great start into the Grand Prix of Qatar, the second day of practice on the International Circuit of Losail was a bit more complicated for the riders of Avintia Racing. The track conditions changed a lot from one session to the next and both Barberá and Baz had to work hard with their crews to re-gain the good feeling with their bikes from the pre-season test one week ago. With eighth position in FP3, Héctor Barberá reached his goal of moving straight to the Q2 session on Saturday. He could have done an even better lap time if a slower rider hadn’t been in his way in the last corner of his best flying lap. Nevertheless, the Spaniard is happy with his achievements and confident to be able to make another step on Saturday.

Loris Baz had more problems to find the right feeling with his bike. In FP2, he suffered a heavy crash and luckily walked away without injuries. After that, he found back to a comfortable feeling on his bike and improved his best time from Thursday by more than a second, which just wasn’t enough to enter Q2 on Saturday. But even though, the French rider of Avintia Racing hopes to break into the group of the twelve fastest riders in Q1 on Saturday.

Hector Barbera | 1'55.323 | P8

“Our goal today was to move up to Q2 and since we achieved this goal, I am happy. The times are very close together and we finished just six tenths of a second behind the fastest rider, which I would have found very acceptable last year, since the difference back then was usually about two seconds…To be in the top qualifying group is a relief for all of us, because you can already be sure of a decent spot on the starting grid and we can use FP4 tomorrow to concentrate on our race preparations. We had quite a lot of problems during these two days, because I didn’t feel really comfortable on the bike and I couldn’t ride the way I did during the test. In my opinion, the track conditions have changed. I can sense these things and notice this change a lot. But we can adapt the bike to this situation and I am doing better every time I go out. Tomorrow, we have to push bit harder, because everybody else will be faster, too.”

Loris Baz | 1'55.773 | P13

“Things started to go really bad today. The track conditions changed a lot and we have been trying many things to get back to the feeling we had during the test. I had a heavy crash in FP2, because my feeling was not good. The most important thing is that I was unhurt. After that, we improved the feeling, but we only achieved this at the end of FP3, which obviously was too late. When we started to improve, it was not enough. Even so, the gap to the fastest rider is just one second, which is not bad. We know that we have the potential to go faster. The main thing is that we recovered the feeling. It was not possible to move straight into Q2, but if we keep going in the right direction, I hope I can do it tomorrow.”

More, from a press release issued by Aspar Team:

Yonny Hernández improves times despite tyre troubles

Aspar Team rider satisfied with Friday performance and places sixteenth. Defective tyres hinder progress for both he and teammate Eugene Laverty

Friday at the Losail International Circuit saw the second night of MotoGP action in the desert, and in the second session there was a taste of what may be to come in qualifying tomorrow. The riders left it until the final ten minutes of the session to make a push for the top of the timesheets, Iannone, Lorenzo, Marquez, Dovizioso and Viñales finally broke the 1'55 mark, and they concluded the night separated by just over three tenths of a second. In addition, less than a second separated the top twelve finishers. The grid for raceday will be decided on Saturday, in the first qualifying session of 2016, and it appears that things will be equally as tight.

Today the Aspar Team riders were able to see the power of their bikes, as the seven fastest bikes on the top speed chart were all Ducatis. Yonny Hernández, -sixteenth at the end of the day and the fifth highest top speed, continued to improve his times and feel more comfortable in each session. He was able to break the 1:57 barrier in the first session of the day and improved further in the second, lowering his times by around half a second. Despite suffering from the misfortune of several faulty tyres (one front and one rear), the Colombian was satisfied with the work carried out with his team and tomorrow will try to get into the first Q2 session of the season.

Teammate Eugene Laverty also had difficulty with defective tyres, in addition to issues with the electronics on his Ducati. Despite having one of the fastest bikes on the grid (sixth on the top speed charts), he still did not feel comfortable riding and ended the day rounding off the timesheets. The Northern Irishman hopes for improvement in tomorrow's action at the Losail International Circuit, in preparation for Sunday's race.

Yonny Hernández 16th 1.56.100 (34 laps): "We have been improving gradually and discovering a lot of things on the bike, and that is something with which we are happy. But on the other hand I am feeling uneasy, because we have already had to deal with several defective tyres. In FP2 we had a front tyre that we saw immediately was not working correctly. We rode yesterday in FP1 with a front tyre that worked perfectly, and we put in 23 laps with it. In contrast, today we changed tyres and on the sixth lap it behaved in a completely abnormal way, so we had to try another type of compound. This gives some concern both for tomorrow and for the race. Apart from that, today I felt comfortable, had a good pace and set a 1.56.1 halfway through the session. At the end we tried to bring that time down, but encountered a defective rear tyre. It's frustrating, but it's best not to think about that; we are doing a great job and we are gradually improving. When we get a bit of luck and put everything together, I'm sure we can fight to be among the top ten. As I said before, our engine is very powerful, so we will push our hardest to get into Q2."

Eugene Laverty 21st 1.57.135 (30 laps): “We had some incidents in the sessions today. The first was a mechanical problem, then we had an electronics issue with the second bike when we went out on that. We fixed that, then had a faulty front tyre to deal with afterwards. It was one of those nights; I maybe should have stayed in bed for a few more hours! I'd been suffering problems in winter testing when trying to make the bike turn in, which had lowered my confidence a little, and now I know why the bike wasn't responding how I wanted; Yesterday was almost like the start of preseason again, but there is reason for optimism because now I understand what I was lacking. With the different engine we've had to go back to the drawing board. I feel as if we are still testing, we're struggling; obviously I'm a rider and I want to push all the time, but we decided to keep a fresh tyre for tomorrow in FP4 and see how the bike is for a longer run.”

More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki Press Office:

Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Maverick Viñales put his GSX-RR into the leading group at tonight’s Qatar MotoGP qualifying sessions to score in the top-five times under the floodlights at Losail International Circuit, as team-mate Aleix Espargaró improved his lap-times from yesterday.

Viñales positioned fourth in the early-evening FP2 with a time of 1'55.644, but improved this to a lap-time of 1'54.976 for tonight’s final session to place fifth – and automatic qualification into tomorrow’s Q2. His progression of performance has been solid and consistent throughout both the sessions, confirming the great confidence Viñales is finding with his machine. The softer Michelin tyres gave him further chances to improve his times on the track, that was more-grippy than yesterday; and this resulted in Viñales being one of the only five riders to lap under the 1’55s bracket tonight.

Espargaró also made big steps forward, finally finding more confidence with the machine’s set-up and improving his best time by nearly eight tenths-of-a-second from yesterday. The third session was crucial for this; and although he had some minor technical issues, Espargaró found an effective set-up and he improved his lap-times aboard his GSX-RR to place 11th with a lap-time of 1'55.491 – which was a significant improvement over his earlier FP2 time of 1'56.293. His best is also only 0.015s far from the top-10, which would have meant the direct access to Q2.

Davide Brivio – Team Manager:

“We are happy with today’s performance of both our riders. Maverick, in particular, is increasing his performance lap-after-lap and it is very positive to see him in fifth place. Even more important is that his performance had been very consistent, being almost always within the top riders and showing a fast race-pace. He has tried different configurations and he has the feeling there is still room for improvement; and this gives us good hopes for tomorrow’s qualifying. On the other side, we are also happy for Aleix, as finally he could find a better feeling and the improvement he has done since yesterday is impressive. He only missed the Q2 direct access by 15 thousands-of-a-second, which means we have good hopes to get into the Q2 through the Q1. Our hope for tomorrow is to see Maverick to stay at the top, hopefully around the position he has already, and also to help Aleix to get closer and closer.”

Maverick Viñales:

“I’m satisfied with the work we have done today and the feeling I have. My best lap is good but more-importantly I feel confident with the pace. Today we tried the softer tyres and the times dropped significantly, but we need to finalise some set-ups and I think we could be even more competitive. We used the two bikes with slightly different set-ups and this allowed us to collect important information that will now be evaluated in order to understand how to exploit our potential even better for tomorrow’s qualifying, because I feel there are still some margins. The objective now is to keep the performance consistent and aim for the second row in order to be immediately competitive.”

Aleix Espargaró:

“It’s a pity I missed the Q2 by only 0.015s but I’m happy with the improvements I could do. Since yesterday we made a huge step forward, my lap-time is better than one second from yesterday and my feeling has improved a lot. Unfortunately, we had some minor technical issues with the machine, otherwise I could probably be in the top-10 because I feel we we’re making positive progress. Now I feel more comfortable with the front and this allows me to be more effective. We still have some time to study some improvements and tomorrow I will do my best to do a good Q1 and get into the Q2 to find a good place in the grid.” 

More, from a press release issued by Marc VDS Racing Team:

Miller and Rabat increase the pace in Qatar

Losail, Qatar – 18 March 2016: Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Jack Miller and Tito Rabat continued to make important progress on the second night of practice for the opening round of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship in Qatar.

Australian Miller took advantage of improved grip levels and a revised riding position to lap 0.7s faster than his previous best time in tonight’s FP3 at the Losail International Circuit.

Miller was satisfied with the performance gains despite a late crash at turn 9 when he ran slightly off line before losing the front-end of his Honda RC213v machine. Miller was unhurt in the spill and he ended 17th overall with an encouraging best time of 1.56.207.

Former Moto2 World Champion Tito Rabat made big strides in his quest to improve front-end feeling after working closely with crew chief Chris Pike to find a more confidence-inspiring machine setting. The Spaniard's hard work was instantly rewarded with a lap of 1.56.625 in FP3 knocking an impressive 0.8s off his benchmark time from earlier in the evening. He finished tonight’s action one place behind Miller in 18th.

Jack Miller: 17th - 1’56.207

“We made some improvements today and I am happy about that. Overall it was a positive day but I made a mistake at the end of the session and had a small crash. It was my fault because I just got onto the dirty line and lost the front. Each time I go out I am getting more comfortable on the bike and I found something with my riding position that helped me used the rear brake more in FP3. We’ll keep working at it to try and close the gap to the guys in front of me.”

Tito Rabat: 18th - 1’56.625

“I am satisfied because we made a really big step with my confidence on the bike and that was one of our main goals for the two sessions today. We made some changes for the first session that didn’t really work but more modifications for FP3 were much better and I had much more trust with the front tyre. We are making small steps but it is important to being moving forward and that’s what we’ve done. The important thing for me is to try and reduce the gap to the front guys and that’s what I am doing. It is still too far but MotoGP is a very difficult class and we know I need time. All I can do is stay calm and keep my confidence to pushing always.”

Cristian Gabbarini: Jack Miller’s Chief Mechanic

“The mood is positive because Jack has been able to improve in every session and it looks like we have found a way to make him more comfortable with the front. I am convinced if we continue working in the same direction that he will be stronger tomorrow and he can have a positive race on Sunday night.”

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