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Mar 19, 2016

Lorenzo Tops Tight MotoGP Qualifying Session In Qatar

Jorge Lorenzo (99).

FIM MotoGP World Championship

Losail International Circuit, Qatar

March 19, 2016

Qualifying Results (all on Michelin tires):

From Qualifying Session Two:

1. Jorge LORENZO, Spain (YAMAHA), 1:54.543

2. Marc MARQUEZ, Spain (HONDA), 1:54.634

3. Maverick VIÑALES, Spain (SUZUKI), 1:54.638

4. Andrea IANNONE, Italy (DUCATI), 1:54.693

5. Valentino ROSSI, Italy (YAMAHA), 1:54.815

6. Andrea DOVIZIOSO, Italy (DUCATI), 1:54.963

7. Dani PEDROSA, Spain (HONDA), 1:55.078

8. Hector BARBERA, Spain (DUCATI), 1:55.165

9. Pol ESPARGARO, Spain (YAMAHA), 1:55.302

10. Cal CRUTCHLOW, UK (HONDA), 1:55.352

11. Bradley SMITH, UK (YAMAHA), 1:55.414

12. Scott REDDING, UK (DUCATI), 1:55.508

From Qualifying Session One:

13. Yonny HERNANDEZ, Colombia (DUCATI), 1:56.157

14. Eugene LAVERTY, Ireland (DUCATI), 1:56.186

15. Aleix ESPARGARO, Spain (SUZUKI), 1:56.238

16. Loris BAZ, France (DUCATI), 1:56.375

17. Alvaro BAUTISTA, Spain (APRILIA), 1:56.595

18. Jack MILLER, Australia (HONDA), 1:56.620

19. Tito RABAT, Spain (HONDA), 1:57.108

20. Stefan BRADL, Germany (APRILIA), 1:57.216

21. Danilo PETRUCCI, Italy (DUCATI), no time recorded

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

Miller and Rabat aim for strong season opener in Qatar

Losail, Qatar – 19 March 2016: Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS riders Jack Miller and Tito Rabat are confident they can race to positive results in tomorrow’s season opening MotoGP round under the Losail International Circuit floodlights in Qatar.

Miller and Rabat encountered turning issues on a frustrating third night of track action in Doha, with both unable to show their full potential in a difficult FP4 and 15-minute Q1 session.

Australian Miller’s night started with an early crash but he was able to restore some confidence to push to a best lap of 1.56.620 that placed him 18th on the grid for tomorrow’s 22-lap race.

It was an equally tough evening for Rabat, who was hampered by a lack of front-end feel that prevented him from improving his time of 1.57.108.

The Spaniard makes his MotoGP debut from 19th on the grid, but despite tonight’s difficulties, Miller and Rabat remain optimistic that they can start 2016 with point scoring finishes.

Jack Miller: 18th - 1’56.620

“It had been a positive weekend up until today started! I had some big problems as soon as I went out in FP4. I wasn’t even pushing on my out lap when I lost the front at turn 15 and that definitely knocked my confidence a little bit. A bike that felt perfect last night just turned into something that was very difficult to ride to the limit tonight. Conditions were not easy with cooler temperatures and a big wind blowing around but I only got one qualifying lap in. At least we found something at the last moment and if I get a decent start tomorrow I think I can have a good race.”

Tito Rabat: 19th - 1’57.108

“I am quite disappointed because we changed a few things on the bike and we kept arriving at the same point. It was difficult to improve the lap time and I didn’t have a good feeling with the bike. All we can do is work hard and try to find a better way. It is so strange and I can’t be happy. The bike doesn’t turn and to be honest I think I was clever not to push any harder because I think it was easy to crash given my feeling with the bike.”

Michael Bartholemy: Team Principal

“Tonight was very disappointing and probably not an exaggeration to say it was a disaster after a positive start to the weekend. To be so far down the grid is clearly not where we want to be and Jack and Tito both seem to be complaining about the same issues. We can talk all we want but at the moment we don’t have a solution and that is frustrating. Jack and Tito are very motivated and I hope they can show more of their true potential in the race.”

More, from a press release issued by Aprilia:




Losail (Qatar), 19 March 2016 – In his first qualifiers with the new Aprilia RS-GP, Alvaro Bautista continued the constant process of improving his lap times. In fact, he finished with 1’56.595, which is his best time since the start of the weekend where he has been consistently improving in every session. His performance, although marred by a crash, earned him the sixth row on the starting grid for the GP that will open up the 2016 championship season.

The same result was not to be for his teammate on Aprilia Racing Team Gresini, Stefan Bradl, After improving steadily until yesterday (1’57.069), Bradl was unable to repeat the performance and, also hindered by a crash with no serious consequences in FP4, he finished the qualifying session with 1’57.216, a time that places him on the seventh row. Now the focus shifts to the races tomorrow, when Bautista and Bradl will need to rely on a good race pace - taking advantage of the warm up session to achieve it - in order to improve on their performance during practice.


“Today we continued with our programme, making a few changes during FP4 to try and improve. We are fairly confident with our race pace. We have reached a set-up level that allows me to be rather consistent lap after lap. Especially in terms of the electronics, we have been working well over the past few days. In qualifiers we changed our strategy compared to last year because I need a few laps on the new tyres in order to be fast. So I started with used tyres and we had planned to be on the track for the entire session. It was a shame about the crash. Unfortunately, when it comes to shaving of a few tenths I still don't have the right feeling with the bike. Physically I don't have any problems. I'm confident about the race tomorrow. Our primary goal is still to go the full distance”.


“This was not our best day of the weekend. I was following our practice plan and I was improving, but unfortunately the crash in FP4 stopped me. I'm not really sure what the problem was, but in any case I didn't suffer any injuries and the bike was also sorted quickly. What we're still missing and what we need to find, is that feeling when I'm pushing to the limit, as well as a certain operational stability with the electronics when conditions change. The positive side is that tomorrow we can only get better. The more laps we put in the more we learn about the new RS-GP”.

More, from a press release issued by Pramac Racing:

Fourth row start for Scott in Qatar GP.

Petrux is flying back to Italy

In the first qualifying session of his new adventure riding Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati Desmosedici GP, Scott Redding didn’t manage to repeat the convincing performance recorded at Losail circuit in the last official pre-season tests and during the first two days of the 2016 Motogp season opening week end.

After having easily conquered the Q2 on Friday and confirming good sensations even today in FP4 (despite a mid-session crash without consequences), in Q2 the British rider could not find the right pace to take that step forward that would allow him to start closer to the leading group tomorrow. His fastest lap-time of 1'55.508s earned Scott twelfth place on the starting grid.

A few minutes before the start of Q2, Octo Pramac Yakhnich team greeted Danilo Petrucci who will return to Italy this night after the problem with his right hand accused during free practice on Friday. Petrux will undergo more check up on Monday to obtain instructions on the best procedure to follow for his full recovery.

12th - Scott Redding - 1'55.508

It’s clear that I could do better today. But I do not want to think too much about what has happened so far, partly because two falls in a weekend are something never happened before. I must say that I struggled a a little on the front but I have not lost confidence. I have to think about the race that is my strong point while lap-time is an issue on which I have to work. I am sure we can do well tomorrow as the feeling with used tires is very good . I've got to lap consistently as I did during the tests. Now we have to analyze the data we have. I think it's a matter of details and I am sure that we will solve them before the race.

More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:

Marquez clinches front row in Qatar, Pedrosa qualifies in seventh

An incredibly close first QP of the 2016 season saw Marc Marquez qualify on the front row with the field’s second best lap time (1’54.634), while Dani Pedrosa set the seventh fastest lap at 1’55.078, a fraction away from the second row.

Following a very positive FP4 session in which he posted a succession of laps in the mid 1’55 range, Marc had a solid first exit in Q2, setting a time that was just 91 thousandths down on what would prove to be Lorenzo’s pole time. After exiting the garage again, Marquez began his fast lap a couple of seconds too late, just missing out on the opportunity to improve.

Dani was fifth after the first run but was unable to make the most of his second tyre and had to settle for seventh.

The red lights for the Qatar GP will switch off tomorrow night at 9 p.m. local time.

Marc Marquez

2ND 1'54.634

"I am happy. At first I thought I had taken pole, but when I got back the team told me that the chequered flag had already been shown before I began my lap. On the display I saw 1:54.2 and thought it was the pole time, but it didn’t count. We are satisfied with the feeling we have with the bike and how everything in general is going. At the end of Q2 we had a scare when making a practice start. Something happened and now we have to see what it was. We'll see tomorrow if we can keep this pace up, which I think will be good for the race."

Dani Pedrosa

7TH 1'55.078

"Today was not the best day for us. I've been trying to decide which tyres we will use tomorrow and I didn’t find a good pace in PF4. Later, in Q2, I started well but had a problem with the second tyre and could not improve my times. Unfortunately I dropped down a few places and I am not as high up the grid as I would like, but tomorrow we will be fully focused on having a good race."

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

Tech3 duo primed for opening round battle in Qatar after solid qualifying

Monster Yamaha Tech3 rider Pol Espargaro will commence his 2016 campaign from the third row of the grid after a determined performance today in Qatar. A thorough effort in FP3 yesterday allowed the young Spaniard to progress to QP2 where he launched into action as soon as the session began. Espargaro built up his speed before setting a personal best on his last lap that was only just over six tenths from the front row. With his confidence high in his race rhythm, the 25 year old’s sights are now firmly set on winning the battle for the leading satellite position tomorrow.

Meanwhile, Bradley Smith pushed hard and produced a tireless qualifying assault today that will see him commence the Qatar Grand Prix from 11th on the grid. The 25 year old had to battle through Q1 after just missing the direct qualification to QP2 by only 0.029 yesterday, but he wasted no time and graduated straight through to the second session after setting a 1’55.490. Here, he upped his pace before firing a personal best lap which was just a tenth from his teammate. The British star now confidently awaits the 22 lap sprint tomorrow where he aims to fight for a top eight result.

Pol Espargaro

Position : 9th Time : 1'55.302 Laps : 7

"In all honesty, I think that we have put ourselves in a promising place for tomorrow. My race pace is strong and our position in FP4 showed that. We have a clear idea about which choice of compound to use and we know that some other riders are struggling with the tyre life. However, we still need to stay focused and sort out a few minor issues in tomorrow's warm up, but I feel prepared and ready. Regarding my qualifying position right now, I'm actually a bit irritated because I'm convinced I could have done a better lap time. Of course, that's easy to say now, but when I left the garage for my last run I was together with some other riders and as we aren't particularly strong on one single lap at the moment, the last thing I wanted was to have the other riders behind me. Therefore I waited, but probably a bit too long, so I didn't do a faster time. Nevertheless, I'm realistic and I wouldn't have been on second row anyway, but I could have been at least a bit higher on my line, therefore there is a slight bitter sweet taste in my mouth. Yet, altogether we have done a good job. I did my lap on my own and I believe that there are a few riders with a worse rhythm in front. Tomorrow will, for sure, be entertaining and the initial laps with the full fuel load might be interesting but I'm 100% motivated to clinch a positive result."

Bradley Smith

Position : 11th Time : 1'55.414 Laps : 7

"I am pleased with my qualifying position today even though it was a different experience on the Michelin tyres compared to Bridgestone. I knew that we wouldn’t be challenging for any of the top positions, so I made the decision to stay out on the bike in QP2 in order to get a few more laps under my belt as well as figuring out several things for the race. All in all, I am satisfied that we are in and around the other satellite riders which ranges from 8th to 12th, so with a good start, we can be right in the mix. With regards to the setup, we are still trying to adjust some details, but I did a full race distance on a set of tyres and was still running competitive lap times. This is positive, however, we need to work something out for sector three and four, but particularly the third. The Yamaha’s strength is corner speed which is something we need to improve on as I don’t quite have the confidence to lay it into the corner, release the brake and go through. Therefore, this is what I need in order to make the difference, so we will study the data and go from there. A top eight position is achievable but we need to work hard between now and then. Having said that, I am excited for the first race of the season tomorrow and will give it everything I’ve got.”

More, from a press release issued by Avintia Racing:

Third row for Barbera in the opening race of the season

Following a difficult FP4 with some issues to match yesterday’s pace, Avintia Racing team worked hard to set up Hector Barbera’s Ducati Desmosedici GP for the qualifying session. The Spanish rider also did his job and he was able to set a really fast lap of 1’55.165 to secure the eight place on the grid for tomorrow’s opening Grand Prix of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship. In addition, Barbera was the first Independent rider in the first qualifying session of the season, a good price for the team. Tomorrow he aims to get a good start and try to finish the race as close as possible to the front.

The night sessions didn’t go as well for Loris Baz. The Avintia Racing French rider was not able to find back to the good feeling from yesterday’s last free practice and he couldn’t get a place in the final Q2 qualifying session. He will start the race tomorrow from the 16th place of the grid, but he’s confident in finding the right way during warm up and recover some places during the 22 laps-race.

Hector Barbera | 1'55.165 | P8

“I’m happy because the third row it was something we have targeted before coming here, but at the same time I feel that tonight was possible to do even better. We didn’t get the maximum out of the second tyre. Anyway the lap times are quite tight and this eighth place is a good base to start the first race. I want to thank my team, because they worked really hard during the weekend. Maybe you feel more nervous in the first race, more tense, and you find some more issues. This is because you are more stressed riding the bike as you are so eager to improve every time you get on track. But when I went out for qualifying, everything was ready. The start will be crucial tomorrow. We have to be there from the first corner, because the first three laps will be as important as half a race distance.”

Loris Baz | 1'56.375 | P16

“Today was a difficult day. Our goal was to be inside the top ten and we finished quite far away, but to be honest the track conditions changed every day, and although is the same for everybody, I didn’t ride as well as I would have liked to. I crashed when I was almost in a straight line after just two laps of the FP4, and then I had some issues with my second bike. We did some modifications to improve but we had no time to test them, and when I started to push in the qualifying, I found that we had not taken the right direction; I had more moments in two laps that in the whole winter riding this bike. I tried to save the situation to be in the best possible position for tomorrow during the Q1, because if we manage to get back to yesterday’s set up, I’m sure it will be possible to do much better in the race.”

More, from a press release issued by Aspar Team:

ASPAR riders make big improvements on Saturday in Qatar

Yonny Hernández concludes qualifying thirteenth, whilst Eugene Laverty takes a big step forward for fourteenth on the grid

Today saw the first qualifying sessions of the 2016 MotoGP season, to decide the grid for the Qatar Grand Prix. Pole position for the season opener went to Jorge Lorenzo, who set the fastest time of the weekend with a 1.54.543 lap. He was challenged by Marc Márquez, who placed 0.091s off the top spot, and an all-Spanish front row was completed by Maverick Viñales –who pushed hard on his final lap to also close in on Lorenzo. Just under a tenth of a second separated the front three at the Losail International Circuit.

The ASPAR riders were very active today in the first qualifying session of the season. Both pushed hard to try to sneak into Q2 -something that they finally could not manage- but both Yonny Hernández and Eugene Laverty put in a great performance. The Colombian again encountered a defective tire that disrupted his plans, but was still able to set a 1.56.157 lap and claim thirteenth on the grid.

Only 0.029s slower than him was teammate Eugene Laverty. The Irishman, who had spent much of the practice time adapting to a new engine, took a big step forward to set his best time of the weekend on the final lap of the qualifying session. A gearing issue was the only thing denying him an even faster lap of the Losail International Circuit.

13th Yonny Hernández 1.56.157: "I feel bad because we have not had good tyres throughout the entire weekend, and it has given us several problems. However, the team have done everything possible to give me a good, competitive bike with which to try to fight to be among the top ten. I want to thank the team, because they have done a great job. It's a shame that we had several defective tyres, as I know that we could be higher up if that hadn’t occurred. The base we have, both in terms of chassis and electronics, I really like. We have been progressively improving and I hope to do my best tomorrow in the race to try to fight for a top ten finish. If not, I will try to score as many points as possible. A good start to the season is very important. I hope I'm wrong, but I think there will be a lot of crashes tomorrow. By the looks of things, the tyres will become critical at one point. We have already encountered three defective tyres in two days, so I hope that tomorrow they will not give us any problems and we can finish the race without issues.”

14th Eugene Laverty 1.56.186: “We worked in a good way today. Yesterday we had problems, basically losing an entire practice session. I got comfortable with the new bike and the new tyres in qualifying, so I pushed more. We made another small change in the same direction for the second tyre, and I set a fantastic lap with that. I got a 1:55.8 for my last lap, but I’d shifted to sixth gear before the finish line and lost a bit of pace when it didn’t work. That dropped my time down to 1:56.1. I was really angry, because I lost about 3 tenths because of that. I’d done everything perfectly on the final two corners, but it came undone when the gear didn’t engage. The crew will check what the problem was, but it dropped us down one place on the grid. However, the important thing is that we took a huge step forward. We were behind before, but now we are catching up just in time. I tested out the bike on a medium duration run in FP4, and the bike does change a lot –especially with the rear tyre- so we will have to make a plan for the race with the electronics to give me some options.”

More, from a press release issued by Movistar Yamaha:


Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rider Jorge Lorenzo continued his strong form today during the Qualifying 2 session, returning to the top of the time sheets again under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit. He secured the 62nd pole position of his career with a 1‘54.543s lap, making him the new leader in the all time pole position classification. His teammate Valentino Rossi, on the other hand, left it to the last lap to make his move, securing fifth on the grid for tomorrow‘s Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar.

Losail (Qatar), 19th March 2016

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi rode on the limit this evening during an intense 15-minute qualifying session at the Losail International Circuit to take first and fifth respectively on the grid for tomorrow‘s Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar.

After setting the pace in FP4 with a 1‘55.301s lap, Lorenzo was the last rider to start the 15-minute qualifying shoot out. As the second to last man to leave pit lane he enjoyed some clear track space. He immediately dropped under the 1‘55 mark on his first hot run to take over the provisional pole from his teammate.

Unable to improve on his next lap, he came in for a fresh set of tyres with a little more than six minutes left on the clock and had another go at a time attack only one and a half minutes later. The triple and reigning MotoGP Champion put his head down once more, but had to relinquish the hope of bettering his own time after encountering a big moment on his third flying lap. Fortunately none of his rivals was able come any closer than 0.091s to his 1'54.543s lap, giving him the first pole position of the 2016 season.

Rossi was also on the charge today. Similar to his teammate, the nine-time World Champion left it late to get out on track, but needed little time to put his stamp on the proceedings. His first stint saw him briefly take provisional pole with a 1'56.024s lap. Despite improving his time on his second go, a flurry of activity pushed him back to ninth.

Eager to move up the ranking order, the Doctor quickly returned to the pits and came back out on track with a little less than four and a half minutes of the session remaining. He moved up from tenth to seventh place, but knew he had more to give on his final hot lap. Squeezing out every ounce of effort on his ultimate lap, he clocked a 1'54.815s, 0.272s from pole. This time briefly put him in fourth place, before dropping one place in the qualifying standings. The Doctor will start tomorrow‘s race from the middle of the second row on the grid.



Today we saw some very strong results from our riders. Jorge did very well, setting the pole position on his second lap, on his first tyre. Valentino‘s fifth place is fully deserved and it‘s a good position to start tomorrow‘s race from. We were able to make another step in FP4 and it gave us the edge over our rivals in qualifying. We can be quite satisfied with the work we have delivered so far; the riders are comfortable with their setting and the way how the bike is behaving, but no points will be distributed until after tomorrow. We expect the race to be challenging with all the riders pumped for the opening race. Yet I think we are in with a fair chance to fight for some very good results tomorrow. We will use the warm-up to perfect the bikes‘ settings and then we finally get to start the 2016 season with hopefully a very exciting battle.


It‘s not bad to have this record for most pole positions on the first weekend of the championship. Today it has been quite difficult to keep calm and try not to crash, because sometimes you have a good feeling with one rear tyre and you put in another and you have a different feeling. This is what happened on my second try, I almost crashed on the first lap, but luckily on my first try, my first lap was enough to keep the pole position. I expected to be a little bit faster and that everyone would come closer to the 1‘54.0s, but finally this 1‘54.5s was enough to be on pole.


I‘m quite satisfied, because it‘s important that we start from the top5 and we are fifth. It‘s the ’minimum target‘, but it‘s not so bad because we are not so far from the pole position. I lost a little bit in the second part of the lap, I didn‘t do a perfect lap. If I had done so, I could have stayed a bit more in front, but anyway it‘s good to start in fifth place. I‘m also quite happy about the pace. We have to work and improve in the warm-up tomorrow, but I was already not so bad. It looks like four or five riders are fast and have more or less the same pace, but I‘m most worried about Marquez, because today he had the best pace.

I‘m happy and satisfied with my decision to stay with Yamaha for two more years. I thought I wanted to wait a little bit, but I spoke with Yamaha over the last few days and they were ready, so was I, and the contract was OK, so we said “why not?”. Now we can concentrate on the races.

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

Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Maverick Viñales put-in a sensational final-lap dash to get himself and his Suzuki GSX-RR on the front row for tomorrow’s MotoGP™ opening round at Losail International Circuit in Qatar.

The 21-year-old Spaniard was sitting in eighth position with four minutes to go before jumping up the ranks to third with a best personal lap of 1'54.638, just 0.095s away from Pole Position and securing his second-ever MotoGP™ front row start; his first was at the GP of Catalunya last season.

Team-mate Aleix Espargaró will start from the fifth row after a crash in Q1 and his subsequent run back to the Suzuki Garage to change machines left him out of time to fully exploit a further faster lap. Although his feeling with the machine is growing lap-by-lap in terms of race pace, unfortunately he didn’t have right opportunity for a proper time attack. This will force him into a recovery race, but he is capable of this type of effort that is required.

Davide Brivio – Team Manager:

“For sure this is a good result for us. I want to consider this front row as a reward for all the work that Suzuki’s engineers did during the whole winter, for the preparation work done by the Team during the winter tests and, above all, for Maverick, who has grown-up a lot and is exploiting at its best the year of experience he gained in 2015. This is a first reward that we want to enjoy although it is only Saturday. Of course, this good result makes us curious to see what will happen in race, for sure tomorrow we will start with the consciousness that the race can be different, but we are also aware that we can enjoy it. Aleix has been a little unlucky, I believed he could have got into the Q2 but unfortunately he crashed towards the end of the session and had to replace the machine; and everything got more complicated. His feeling with bike #2 was not the same with bike #1 so he couldn’t do better than 15th place, which is for sure not the position he deserves. Our main task now is to finalise a good set-up that will allow him to feel comfortable in the race and hopefully recover some positions.”

Maverick Viñales:

“I’m very happy, we did an incredible job and finally we are taking some of the profits from all the hard work we have done in the winter. This is only qualifying and the race is tomorrow, therefore I’m keeping my feet on the ground, but being in third place is a very good sensation and makes me proud. It means a lot that last year here, I started in 12th while now I am in third, it shows that we have worked hard and I want to thank Suzuki for the development job they have done in the winter and also to my team that gives me full support. The extraordinary last lap is the result of the hard work I have done in the winter with my training, but also the calmness I have now: I am exploiting the experience I gained last year and also the engine we have now, which is a huge step forward.”

Aleix Espargaró:

“Today I have been unlucky, the practice session we did gave me a good confidence with the pace, but then in Q1 I had a crash and had to switch the bike. Unfortunately my feeling with the second bike was a little different, I felt some chattering at the front and couldn’t find the proper confidence. Of course starting so far back on the grid will make the race very complicated, I will need to push hard to recover; and that won’t be easy. However, my improvements in the past few days are very solid, my confidence with the pace is not so bad, but I still think I can do a good race and then we will take some time to analyse everything and increase our performances for the future. For sure this is not where we belong and I want to get back to the top.”

More, from a press release issued by Ducati Corse:

 Ducati Team riders to start Grand Prix of Qatar from Row 2. Iannone fourth and Dovizioso sixth after qualifying at Losail

The two Ducati Team men will start tomorrow’s opening round of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship – the Grand Prix of Qatar at the Losail International Circuit – from the second row of the grid.

Andrea Iannone was fourth quickest in today’s fifteen-minute qualifying session, the Italian’s time of 1’54.693 coming on the last lap of his second exit. Iannone just missed out on pole position, after being slowed by traffic on the track in the last few corners. Andrea Dovizioso instead finished the Q2 session in sixth place, with a time of 1’54.963 he set on his fourth lap.

Dovizioso was third quickest in the thirty-minute pre-qualifying FP4 session, while Iannone was in fifth place.

Tomorrow’s MotoGP schedule sees the warm-up scheduled for 5pm local time (15.00 CET), with the race due to start at 9pm (19.00 CET).

Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team #29) – 1’54.693 (4th)

“It was a very positive qualifying session, but unfortunately I found Redding on the line during my last lap and he slowed me down when I was improving my time. I could have picked up a nice pole position, but these things happen. In any case I am very happy about the progress we’ve made throughout the weekend and for the work we are doing, because we have always been very quick and constantly in amongst the leading positions. FP4 was useful because it helped us understand something vitally important in view of the race, where I think we will be competitive. For sure it would have been better to start from the front row, but in any case tomorrow we will try and get up to the front right from the early laps.”

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team # 04) – 1’54’.963 (6th)

“I am quite happy with my position, even though maybe I could have been a bit further up. However the aim was to start from one of the first two rows and this is what we have done, so I’m pretty happy about that. Unfortunately today the feeling with the bike, in particular during qualifying, was not the same as yesterday so I was unable to push as hard as I would have liked. I’m satisfied with the work we’ve done up until today: now we will have to decide which rear tyre to use in the race, but we are quick in any case and we have a good race pace, so I reckon we can be in amongst the leading group.”

More, from a press release issued by Dorna:

The first pole of the 2016 FIM MotoGP™ World Championship season went to World Champion Lorenzo, Marquez and Viñales completing the front row.

Q2 was a great unknown for the riders with the new Michelin tyres, most riders feeling the

new French rubber would take five or six laps before they were in an ideal operating condition. But come Q2, riders were able to immediately push and set some of their best times of the weekend during their opening assault. All riders opted for a two run strategy, most coming in with just over five minutes of the session remaining. It proved tense till the end as a multitude of riders were setting red sectors until the flag came out.

For the 36th time in his premier class career, Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) will line up in pole position. The Majorcan set a 1’54.543 on his second lap to secure the first pole of 2016. He had been pushing for a fast time during his second run but a moment forced him to sit up, ending his chances of improving. Lorenzo now heads into the race looking for his first podium finish in Qatar since 2013. His title defence has gotten off to a perfect start, but the triple MotoGP™ World Champion now needs to convert his pole to a strong race result as he has a gaggle of riders right behind.

After Thursday few would have expected Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) to start on the front row, yet alone challenge for pole position. Due to the hard work of his team and Marquez’s undeniable ability to push any motorcycle to its limit, the Spaniard set a 1’54.634s to line up second on the grid.

Completing an all Spanish front row was Maverick Viñales (Team Suzuki Ecstar) who managed a 1’54.693 on his final lap of the session, 0.004s back on second. This is Viñales’ second front row start in the premier class, his second place start at the Catalan GP in 2015 producing a sixth place finish. Under a tenth of a second split the front row, one of the tightest Qualifying sessions in recent years.

Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team) had been on track for a front row start until Viñales bumped him back. Known for his aggressive style, a second row start will likely not hinder Iannone come Sunday as both he and Lorenzo have been able to make the new Michelin tyres work within just a few laps.

Fresh off announcing a new two-year contract with Yamaha, Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) completed the top five. He, Viñales and Iannone were some of the last riders to set their fastest times, Rossi losing out in the final sector.

In sixth was Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team), making it an all-Spanish front row followed by an all-Italian second row. Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing) and Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) were on the third row, making for another entirely Spanish row.

Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) and Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Yakhnich) completed the top 12, and formed an entirely British fourth row. All of the top 12 were within 0.965s, the new tyres and electronics producing a stunning show for all the fans both at the track and watching the action.

With a top speed of 349.7km/h, Andrea Iannone proved that the Ducati is still a force to be reckoned with on the straights. His teammate, Andrea Dovizioso, was the second fastest rider down the kilometre long straight, hitting 344 km/h, Lorenzo the 10th fastest rider in a straight line during the Q2 session. Top end speed could play a defining role in the race with the finish line being a substantial distance from the final corner.

There was an unfortunate fall during Q1 for Aleix Espargaro (Team Suzuki Ecstar) as he slid off at Turn 1, sprinting back to the pits for his second bike. He was able to head back out with four minutes of Q1 remaining. Alvaro Bautista (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) suffered a late fall during the session at Turn 14. Both were unhurt. There were no crashes during Q2.

Sunday the 20th of March will see the first race of the year, starting at 21:00 Local Time at the Losail International Circuit.

Folger takes his second Moto2™ pole ahead of the Qatar GP

Times began to fall almost immediately in the desert, Folger securing pole position in front of Lowes and Rins.

Almost as soon as riders in the Moto2™ World Championship hit the Losail International Circuit, times began to plummet. Sam Lowes’ (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) best time from Friday practice, a new lap record, was bested by Jonas Folger (Dynavolt Intact GP) on the German’s third lap.

The top ten contenders were able to consistently lap in the 1’59s lap after lap, even as traffic increased towards the end of the session. As has been the trend in Moto2™ in recent years, early banker laps proved invaluable as two of the top three riders set their fastest time within their first five laps.

On pole for just the second time in his intermediate class career, Jonas Folger’s early lap proved unbeatable as the German set a new pole record with a 1’59.052. Folger’s previous pole came at the French GP in 2014, starting on the front row a further three times in 2015.

0.072s behind the German was Lowes, the Brit unable to repeat his 2015 pole but still improving his best time to a 1’59.124. Lowes will be looking to add to his five previous podium finishes in the intermediate class. Throughout the weekend Lowes has been quick over multiple laps as well as one offs, frequently setting his best times at the end of longer runs.

Completing the front row is Alex Rins (Paginas Amarillas HP 40), setting a 1’59.354 on his third lap. The Spaniard was unable to improve after he suffered a bike crunching crash at Turn 2, his Kalex tumbling through the gravel after losing the front. His team worked feverishly to repair the bike, sending him back out with just five minutes remaining.

Reigning Moto2™ World Champion, Johann Zarco (Ajo Motorsport) wrestled his way up to fourth on his last lap, only 0.065s off a front row start. No defending Moto2™ champion has ever taken victory in the opening race of the year, the Frenchman aims to change that on Sunday.

Fifth was Franco Morbidelli (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS), the Italian initially struggling during testing and practice with his new team. But when it mattered the Italian was able to produce a 1’59.509 and end 0.457s back on pole. One thing is certain for Sunday’s race; Morbidelli’s aggressive all or nothing style will see him towards the front for at least part of the race.

There was an early involving both Luca Marini (Forward Team) and Ratthapark Wilairot (Idemitsu Team Asia) at Turn 16. Both were unhurt but Marini’s session was reduced to just five minutes.

Mattia Pasini (Italtrans Racing Team) also suffered his second fall of the weekend at Turn 1. Rins was not the only victim of Turn 2, Lorenzo Baldassarri falling at the same corner with one minute remaining. Baldassarri was taken to the medical centre for checks after his crash. He was declared unfit due to dislocating both his shoulders.

The first race of the year will take place at 19:20 Local Time for the Moto2™ World Championship on Sunday the 20th of March. With the top five split by half a second, who will win is still anyone’s guess.

Fenati snatches first lightweight class pole of 2016

High winds saw riders unable to improve on the fastest times of the weekend in Qualifying as Fenati takes pole from Loi and Binder.

With conditions slightly warmer than previous days and a high wind, the Moto3™ World Championship headed out for their first Qualifying session of 2016. Livio Loi (RW Racing GP BV) was the rider to beat heading into the session with the provisionally fastest time of the weekend, a 2’05.832 set on Thursday.

Ahead of the session it was announced that both Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Bo Bendsneyder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) were handed a three-place grid penalty for riding slowly in three sectors in excess of the 110% limit of their fastest sector times in Free Practice 3.

Riders were out for a slipstream, a tow down the 1,068-meter long straight worth over half a second, an eternity in Moto3™. As a result formation flying between teammates was a common sight throughout the session.

A lap in the dying seconds rocketed Romano Fenati (Sky Racing Team VR46) to pole position, just the second pole of his long career in the lightweight class. His first came at the Japanese GP in 2015, where he went on to finish 28th. The young Italian set a 2’06.131 to end 0.047s ahead of Loi.

Loi had been in control of the session until Fenati’s lap but the Belgian remains pleased with his second place start, having never started on the front row before. His time from the opening day of practice still remains as the fastest time of the weekend and he knows there is more to come on race day.

Completing the front row was Brad Binder, the South African setting a 2’06.245 but due to his penalty he will start sixth. This promoted Fabio Quartararo (Leopard Racing) to the front row of the grid for Sunday’s Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar.

Aron Canet (Estrella Galicia 0,0), Brad Binder, Niccolo Antonelli (Ongetta-Rivacold), Enea Bastianini (Gresini Racing Moto3), Philipp Oettl (Schedl GP Racing) and Joan Mir (Leopard Racing) rounded out the top ten. In classic Moto3™ style, the top 19 riders were split by under a second and there's little indication that Sunday's race will be anything other than a battle of bravery and wits.

Rookie Bendsneyder had been eighth but like his teammate Binder, was demoted three places.

There was a fall mid session for Niccolo Antonelli at Turn 13, his third crash of the weekend. This was quickly followed by Jorge Navarro (Estrella Galicia 0,0) going down at Turn 6 and Lorenzo Petrarca (3570 Team Italia) falling at Turn 14. Joan Mir also fell after setting his fastest time. All riders were unhurt.

Racing begins at 18:00 Local Time on Sunday the 20th, the Moto3™ riders doing battle over 18 laps of the Qatar International Circuit.