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Apr 4, 2013

Lorenzo Leads Opening MotoGP Practice In Qatar (Updated)

FIM MotoGP World Championship: Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo (99) in action at Losail Circuit.
FIM MotoGP World Championship
Losail Circuit
Doha, Qatar
April 4, 2013
Free Practice One Results (all on Bridgestone tires):

1. Jorge LORENZO, Spain (YAMAHA), 1:56.685
2. Cal CRUTCHLOW, UK (YAMAHA), 1:56.743
3. Valentino ROSSI, Italy (YAMAHA), 1:56.756
4. Marc MARQUEZ, Spain (HONDA), 1:57.276
5. Andrea DOVIZIOSO, Italy (DUCATI), 1:57.538
6. Alvaro BAUTISTA, Spain (HONDA), 1:57.601
7. Stefan BRADL, Germany (HONDA), 1:57.670
8. Dani PEDROSA, Spain (HONDA), 1:57.749
9. Aleix ESPARGARO, Spain (ART-Aprilia), 1:57.843
10. Nicky HAYDEN, USA (DUCATI), 1:57.926
11. Bradley SMITH, UK (YAMAHA), 1:58.369
12. Andrea IANNONE, Italy (DUCATI), 1:58.559
13. Ben SPIES, USA (DUCATI), 1:58.575
14. Hector BARBERA, Spain (FTR-Kawasaki), 1:59.608
15. Randy DE PUNIET, France (ART-Aprilia), 1:59.633
16. Karel ABRAHAM, Czech Republic (ART-Aprilia), 1:59.758
17. Colin EDWARDS, USA (FTR-Kawasaki), 2:00.341
18. Yonny HERNANDEZ, Colombia (ART-Kawasaki), 2:00.426, crash
19. Hiroshi AOYAMA, Japan (FTR-Kawasaki), 2:00.563
20. Claudio CORTI, Italy (FTR-Kawasaki), 2:01.227
21. Danilo PETRUCCI, Italy (SUTER-BMW), 2:01.438
22. Bryan STARING, Australia (FTR-Honda), 2:01.942
23. Lukas PESEK, Czech Republic (SUTER-BMW), 2:02.079
24. Michael LAVERTY, UK (PBM-Aprilia), 2:02.135

More, from a press release issued by Power Electronics Aspar Team:


POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar rider clocks a 1'57.843 to lap just 1.1 seconds off top MotoGP time

After the long dark winter the MotoGP riders emerged blinking into the floodlights tonight as the Losail Circuit played host to the first exchanges of the 2013 season. Current World Champion Jorge Lorenzo struck the first blow, snatching the fastest time at the end of a session dominated largely by his returning team-mate Valentino Rossi. It was a dominant start to the weekend for Yamaha who took the top three positions tonight, whilst CRT honours went to Aleix Espargaró, who was just 1.1 seconds off Lorenzo's best effort.

POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar rider Espargaró was without doubt one of the riders of the day: ninth fastest overall, ahead of four factory prototypes and a massive 1.7 seconds clear of the second fastest CRT. On the other side of the garage Randy De Puniet was the third fastest CRT on track, fifteenth overall after struggling for front grip around the dirty and slippery desert track.

9th Aleix Espargaró 1.57.843 (15 laps): "I am really happy, I don't even know myself where that performance came from tonight. The bike worked perfectly and it allowed me to ride with ease and the more I saw the lap times drop the more I wanted to push. I was able to follow the factory bikes around certain parts of the track, which is something that has never happened before. Clearly the new ART is working even better than last year, it is more nimble and it is helping me a lot in the direction changes. The engine has a bit more grunt, especially at the top end and the feeling here is even better than it was in Malaysia and Jerez. Anyway, it is only the first session and we have to keep our feet on the ground. As usual on the first night here at Losail the track was very dirty and we will need to adapt our set-up as the grip improves over the next couple of days."

15th Randy De Puniet 1.59.633 (16 laps): "I was looking forward to the season starting but to be honest my feeling with the bike wasn't what I expected in this first session. I have struggled to get a feel for the front end and I'm not sure why but I just couldn't brake where I wanted to. I was having to brake early to stop myself from running wide and that affected my corner speed. The positive side is that it's only the first session, we still have a lot of work ahead of us and the track was very dirty tonight so maybe that was the root of the problem."

More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:

2013 Season gets underway in Qatar

Tonight under the floodlights of the Losail circuit in Qatar, the 2013 MotoGP season began.

Repsol Honda's Dani Pedrosa and Marc Marquez made the most of the 45minute FP1 session on a very dirty track. Rookie Marc overcame his initial nerves and took the 4th fastest time of the session with 1'57.276 recorded on lap 15 of 18. Dani, who had issues with corner entry, was 8th fastest with a 1'57.749 on his final lap of 17. Both riders remained on the same tyre for the session.

Marc Marquez 4th 1'57.276
"The truth is that I was a little nervous -above all at the start,- but that's normal. I got over that immediately and set about the practice just like we did in Moto2 last season: Working hard with a focus on the race. I made steady improvement and felt good, which is important at the start but we must remember that this is just the beginning. The grip levels improve a lot during a GP weekend, and thus we will have to keep working on the setup"

Dani Pedrosa 8th 1'57.749
"Today wasn't our best day. We weren't able to ride well with the bike, because I had a little issue on corner entry. That's why we didn't get better lap times. We hope that things go better tomorrow and that we can get better one-off times again"

More, from a press release issued by Pramac Racing:

Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Team rider Andrea Iannone faced the first timed practice session of the 2013 World Championship season, hosted under the floodlights at Qatar's 5380mt Losail Circuit, aiming to put in as many laps as possible with the same set of tyres.

The Italian preferred to improve his pace lap-by-lap rather than stopping often to adjust the bike’s setting.
Andrea ended the positive first day with a good feeling and 12th place result, thanks to a time of 1'58.559.

Andrea Iannone
"I had to stop immediately after the first lap because we had a problem with the gear lever, but the guys were very quick to address the issue and I didn’t lose too much time. I have a completely new feeling with the bike on this track, and I feel a little bit lost. During the first part of the session, I couldn’t find the right braking point. I'm happy anyway, and tomorrow I hope to improve my pace.”

More, from a press release issued by Pramac Racing:

Ignite Pramac Racing Team rider Ben Spies faced the first timed practice session of the 2013 World Championship season, hosted under the floodlights at Qatar's 5380mt Losail Circuit, aiming to put in as many laps as possible with the same set of tyres.
The Texan preferred to improve his pace lap-by-lap rather than stopping often to adjust the bike’s setting.

Ben ended the positive first day with a good feeling and 13th place result, thanks to a time of 1'58.575.

Ben Spies – Ignite Pramac Racing Team
“Today is Thursday, and it’s good to get the first session out of the way. We weren’t exactly where we wanted to be, but for the first time I felt good on the bike and was having fun. I had different feelings. The shoulder is getting better for sure, but I’m trying to take it easy and not go too crazy after not having a great testing season. We still have work to do, but our speed was okay for the first session, and I’m happy about it.”

More, from a press release issued by Yamaha MotoGP Team:

Yamaha Lead the Way as MotoGP Begins in Qatar

Losail (Qatar), 4th April 2013

The opening round of the 2013 MotoGP Championship began this evening at the Losail Circuit in Qatar. The first free practice wound up with Yamaha leading the class and dominating the top of the time sheets. Reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo was quick to find a set up on his YZR-M1 and spent the session challenging within the top few positions. As the track conditions improved in the last ten minutes so did the times, the Mallorcan taking the top spot in the last two minutes and increasing speed again to finish with an impressive 1’56.685.

Teammate Valentino Rossi’s first race weekend back on the YZR-M1 began in style this evening, the Italian nine-time MotoGP Champion took almost immediate possession of the number one spot on the timesheets and was only rarely troubled there throughout the session. Only teammate Lorenzo and fellow Yamaha rider Cal Crutchlow were able to contend for the fastest time, with all three ending the session within one tenth of a second from each other.

Jorge Lorenzo
1st / 1'56.685 / 16 laps
“It's a very good way to start the season, on top. To have three Yamahas in the first three positions like in Jerez means this track can be positive for us. We need to improve though because the other guys will come in the next practice. We’ll make the step little by little by riding, improving the bike and also the track will improve. Today we tried both bikes and tomorrow we will try the new chassis here.”

Valentino Rossi
3rd / 1'56.756 / 18 laps
“The first practice was very positive for us, we are in third position and we are very close to Jorge. Our pace was ok, especially because I used just one set of tyres to understand if I could be fast with a lot of laps. The setting and balance of the bike is good so it looks like we can be competitive.”

Wilco Zeelenberg
Team Manager
“Our position is good, especially as the track is quite tricky and dirty, off line it’s quite slippery, but that’s normal here. To be on top and see the competitors struggling a little is good. We still have a step to make but we have to be satisfied in first position today!”

Massimo Meregalli
Team Director
“It’s a good beginning and the bike is working very well. This circuit really suits the YZR-M1. To see both riders consistently leading the practices means something positive. We'll check the data now and make some small adjustments and see where we can go. The start has been good!”

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

Crutchlow stars on opening night in Qatar

The 2013 MotoGP World Championship roared into action tonight, with Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team rider Cal Crutchlow one of the leading lights in the season's opening practice session at the floodlit Losail International Circuit in Qatar.

The British rider was immediately battling for the top three in a session run in warm but windy conditions, which meant grip levels were far from ideal with sand and dust being blown onto the 5. 38km track surface from the surrounding desert landscape.

An indication of how tricky track conditions were was reflected on the timesheets, with Crutchlow's best pace of 1.56.743 some way off the fastest race lap set by Casey Stoner in 2012 of 1.55.541.

Full of confidence after setting the quickest time during last month's final pre-season test session at the Jerez track in Spain, Crutchlow continued his impressively fast form tonight to help Yamaha take a clean sweep of the top three in the 45-minute session.

A 1.57.795 put Crutchlow inside the top three and he was able to improve his pace by over a second to keep nine-times World Champion Val entino Rossi at bay and secure a stunning second position behind current title holder Jorge Lorenzo.

Tonight's session saw Bradley Smith make his competitive debut for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Team, the British rider making solid progress throughout the session and finished just outside of the top 10 on an encouraging opening night.

The British rider dedicated the majority of his time on track to learning lines and braking markers on the YZR-M1 machine, which has never ridden at the Losail International Circuit.
Smith completed 18 laps and gaining confidence throughout he ended the session with a best pace of 1.58.369 that put him on the brink of the top 10 in 11th and ahead of Andrea Iannone and Ben Spies.

Crutchlow and Smith will continue their prepar ations for the unique night race tomorrow evening when two further practice sessions are held under the spectacular Losail International Circuit floodlights.

Cal Crutchlow 2nd 1.56.743 – 17 laps:
“It was a very good first session on a personal level with me finishing second and also for Yamaha with a clean sweep of the top three. As is always the case on the first night in Qatar the track was quite dirty, particularly off the racing line. Even on the racing line it was quite slippery but I am happy to be right in the mix from the start. We need to make some changes to the bike for tomorrow because I felt we had too much weight transfer on braking and acceleration but I've got to be happy to finish in second and ending up in between Jorge and Valentino. Second place is great but I am not reading too much into it. As the track conditions improve some of the rest will get faster and it is still going to be very tough to be on the podium. I am looking forward to the race and being so competitive from the sta rt certainly gives my confidence another lift and helps me carry on the momentum gained in testing.”

Bradley Smith 11th – 1.58.368 – 18 laps:
“I'm really happy with my performance in my very first practice session in MotoGP. It's nice just to get rid of the initial nerves and tension that has been building up as you get ready for the beginning of the season. With such little time on track in 45 minutes we didn't tweak the bike too much. I just wanted to get familiar with the track because the lines and braking points are completely different to what I am used to in Moto2. Being on track with the rest of the field at the same time helps because I can pick up some pointers and I'll watch a video of the session again to understand where I can improve and be faster for FP2 and FP3, where it will be important to finish in the top 10 for the new qualifying format. I'm satisfied with my posit ion though and I am not a million miles behind Nicky and 1.6s off the best pace is the closest I have been since I first rode this bike, so that shows I am moving in the right direction.”

More, from a press release issued by Ducati Corse:

Positive start for Ducati Team in Qatar with Dovizioso 5th, Hayden 10th

After a long winter testing period, the first free-practice session for the 2013 MotoGP championship took place this evening at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit, which traditionally kicks off the season by hosting the calendar’s only night race.

Conditions were challenging, with winds having blown dust on the track surface during the day, limiting traction considerably, but Ducati Team riders Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden were both happy to finally get the season underway, posting the fifth- and tenth-best times, respectively, on the charts by session’s end.

Tomorrow will see the MotoGP riders taking part in two more free-practice sessions, with qualifying to be held Saturday night and the Grand Prix taking place on Sunday.

Andrea Dovizioso - Ducati Team, 5th (1:57.538)
“I’m pleased with the lap time, especially because I did three laps like that and I could have been even better if I hadn’t come across traffic. Anyway, the times aren’t really a reference in terms of pace, as the first session is always a bit strange here due to the sand. It’s definitely possible to improve. The riders ahead of me used soft tyres, and I was the only one to use the hard front. Tomorrow there are two important sessions in which we can work on our pace.”

Nicky Hayden - Ducati Team, 10th (1:57.926)
“It’s certainly good to get the season started. I was having a lot of trouble in my first exit, and I’m not sure what the problem was. When we switched to my other bike with different tyres, the feeling improved and I started putting in some decent laps. I was getting better as the track cleaned up, but I was losing a lot of time in the last three rights. If I can figure out that section and get it to wheelie less, I should be able to improve quite a bit. It’s not a great start, but I think if we can improve a couple of things, we can put up a good fight here.”

More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda:


Losail, 4 April: the premier class riders undertook their first run out of 2013 season tonight beneath the floodlights of Losail circuit which celebrates the 10th anniversary of the race at the desert track. 2012 MotoGP Rookie Stefan Bradl was seventh fastest, producing a lap time of 1’56.670. The German has already a clear idea on how his RC213V can be improved for tomorrow’s practices.

Stefan: “Actually the 7th position was not our target but I feel better than what is on the paper. When we changed the front setting it took me some time to adapt but at the end I found my rhythm. Our weak point is the braking area and we spotted the same issues of Jerez pre-season test so I missed some confidence in the braking areas right now. However I am quite sure that we can improve the package before tomorrow and this makes me really happy with this first day of practices. We do have the potential to improve our pace and our position on this track”.

More, from a press release issued by Dorna Communications:

Yamaha Factory Racing’s Reigning World Champion Jorge Lorenzo led the way in the first free practice session of the 2013 MotoGP™ season under floodlights at the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar on Thursday ahead of Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow and Yamaha Factory teammate Valentino Rossi.

Thursday’s sole practice for the premier class not only launched the 2013 campaign, but also helped mark the tenth anniversary of the sport in Qatar. Also, for the first time ever, the session had a direct bearing on qualifying, as the new Qualifying format this year means the combined top ten from across the opening three practices will go on to make up the Q2 qualifying line-up this Saturday.

It looked as though Britain’s Crutchlow was to take top spot, having put the hammer down towards the end, but Lorenzo moved ahead with a last-gasp 1’56.685. This leaves the top three separated by just 71 thousandths of a second, with Rossi looking highly confident after leading the way halfway through. Reigning Moto2™ World Champion Marc Márquez came in fourth, whilst Andrea Dovizioso put in a terrific performance on his Ducati to come fifth.

Due to the extremely dusty track surface and riders pushing to find the limits, an assortment of names veered onto the run-off area at Turn 1. PBM’s Yonny Hernández’s was the first rider in MotoGP to suffer an accident in the new year, as the Colombian lost the front end of his ART bike, fortunately walking away with solely scuffed leathers.

It was an encouraging start to the campaign for GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Álvaro Bautista, completing the night in sixth spot from the LCR Honda MotoGP of Stefan Bradl. Bautista, who had mostly recovered from a finger injury obtained in Jerez testing, cited that it had been aggravated once more, and will have to assess his injury tomorrow. It was certainly a low-key start for expected title challenger Dani Pedrosa as the Repsol man ended up in eighth place, having run off the track twice. As Nicky Hayden confirmed a double top ten finish for the Ducati Team, Aleix Espargaró raised eyebrows by ending his evening ninth quickest on the leading CRT bike of the Power Electronics Aspar outfit, just 1.1 seconds off Lorenzo’s leading time.

British newcomer Bradley Smith in the Tech 3 team was just outside the top ten, but ahead of Pramac Racing duo Andrea Iannone and Ben Spies. The rest of the 24-bike field was filled by CRT representatives, with Héctor Barberá and Hiroshi Aoyama in respective 14th and 19th places for Avintia Blusens. Between them were Aspar’s Randy de Puniet, Cardion AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham, NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards and the aforementioned Hernández.

Forward rookie Claudio Corti was 20th and almost a second slower than teammate Edwards in these early stages, with Danilo Petrucci leading the Came IodaRacing Project attack from 21st. He and debuting Czech teammate Lukáš Pešek sandwiched Gresini newcomer Bryan Staring of Australia, as Britain’s Michael Laverty completed the field while continuing early development work on the in-house PBM machine.


Italtrans Racing Team’s Takaaki Nakagami posted the fastest time of the day in the Bank Grand Prix of Qatar’s second Moto2™ practice session on Thursday evening ahead of Tuenti HP 40 pairing Esteve Rabat and Pol Espargaró.

After Espargaró had topped the first session, the later period kicked off in dramatic fashion as NGM Mobile Racing’s Mattia Pasini and Argiñano & Gines Racing’s Steven Odendaal were involved in an incident, with the Italian attempting an ambitious passing manoeuvre on the South African as both riders went down. Although the latter found himself briefly underneath his machine, both men escaped unharmed.

Nakagami’s best effort came in the shape of 2’00.924, making him the only rider to duck inside the 2’01.000 barrier tonight. Rabat, who led for much of the session, was less than a tenth slower, with Espargaró having made a mistake on his final run. Marc VDS Racing Team’s Scott Redding continuously challenged for top times, but was losing ground on the start/finish straight. He finished fourth from the second Italtrans Kalex of Julián Simón and NGM Mobile Racing’s Simone Corsi, doing well to end the day as fastest Speed Up rider.

The top-ten was rounded out by Technomag carXpert’s Dominique Aegerter, Marc VDS’ Mika Kallio, NGM’s Alex de Angelis and Mapfre Aspar Team Moto2’s Nico Terol. Technomag’s Randy Krummenacher ended his night in 16th place after suffering a fall as he lost control at penultimate corner Turn 15, but was able to walk away unhurt.


Red Bull KTM Ajo’s Luis Salom went quickest on day one in Qatar in the second Moto3™ practice session on the opening day ahead of Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3’s Jonas Folger and Estrella Galicia 0,0’s Alex Rins.

Under floodlights for the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar this weekend it was Salom who put in a best effort of 2’07.341 to displace Folger into second, after the German had topped the morning session.

Behind third-placed Rins, teammate Alex Márquez, brother of MotoGP™ rookie Marc Márquez, was fourth fastest, with Niccolò Antonelli and GO&FUN Gresini Moto3 rounding out the top five. In the case of Antonelli, the Italian was fortunate to re-join the action after a fall at Turn 10. Behind came Mahindra Racing’s Efrén Vázquez in sixth spot from Ambrogio Racing’s Brad Binder and Avant Techno’s Niklas Ajo.

It was a mixed session for Team Calvo, including for Maverick Viñales, the rider regarded by many as this year’s title favourite. Still recovering after a crash at the final pre-season test in which he lost a fingertip, the Spaniard ended his evening ninth, as newbie and first female Moto3™ rider Ana Carrasco frustratingly managed only ten minutes of track time. Jakub Kornfeil completed the top ten for Redox RE Racing GP.