MotoGP: More From Free Practice In Qatar

MotoGP: More From Free Practice In Qatar

© 2022, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. From a press release issued By Dorna:

Rins heads Marc Marquez by just 0.035 as 2022 blasts out the blocks in Qatar

The eight-time World Champion puts the Honda amongst the Suzukis on Day 1 in the desert

Friday, 04 March 2022

More Suzuki power? Day 1 certainly suggests so. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) topped the timesheets on the first day of 2022 as MotoGP™ returned to blistering action at the Grand Prix of Qatar, with teammate and 2020 Champion Joan Mir in third. Splitting the Hamamatsu assault on the top was eight-time World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) as the number 93 missed out on first by just 0.035.

 

Brad Binder (33). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Brad Binder (33). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

FP1

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Brad Binder pipped Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) to the first MotoGP™ P1 of the season, lunging to the top with a 1:54.851. It was close, however, with 0.056 between the two. Rins rounded out the top three.

Pol Espargaro and Repsol Honda Team teammate Marc Marquez made it three Hondas in the top five to kick off the season too, with just 0.2s splitting the fastest quintet.

Darryn Binder (WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP™ Team) encountered an early issue when his YZR-M1’s belly pan was loose, but nothing came of it for the South African rookie. Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) crashed unhurt with just over 15 minutes to go at Turn 3.

Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team), the runner-up in 2021, then crashed at Turn 6 with five minutes to go – rider ok. The front of the Italian’s GP22 washed away early in the braking zone in an early mistake for Pecco in 2022 as he ended FP1 in P18.

 

Francesco Bagnaia crashed during FP1. Photo courtesy Dorna.
Francesco Bagnaia crashed during FP1. Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

FP2

FP2 saw the floodlights at Lusail International Circuit beaming and the premier class got straight to work. The lap times soon fell, and Marc Marquez sat top before Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) took over.

The riders got some valuable laps under their belts at the same time the race is going to be at on Sunday, but with 20 minutes to go, the time attacks started. Pol Espargaro climbed to the summit, then went even faster on his second flying lap on the soft tyres, the gap up to 0.4. A whole heap of rapid laps were about to appear, however.

The first 1:53 came in from Mir with 13 minutes to go. That was swiftly beaten by Marc Marquez, the new benchmark a 1:53.711, but that didn’t stand as the fastest for long either – and it was Rins who struck back to go 0.174 clear. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) then closed the gap with two minutes to go, before Mir made it a Suzuki 1-2. It still wasn’t done, however, as Marc Marquez returned to P1 with a minute left on the clock.

Again, though, Rins struck back and at the end of play, the Suzuki man is the rider to beat heading into Day 2.

Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) crashed unhurt at Turn 1, and Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) crashed twice in quick succession in FP2, once at Turn 6 and then on the next lap at Turn 10 – rider ok.

 

Marc Marquez (93). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Marc Marquez (93). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Provisional Q2 places

Behind Rins, Marc Marquez and Mir, Martin ends the day in P4 and as both top Independent Team rider and Ducati. For the most part, it had been a quiet day for the Borgo Panigale factory before the 2021 Rookie of the Year struck.

The fastest Yamaha was Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) as a late time saw the Italian leap up the timesheets, with Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team) sixth ahead of qualifying day in the desert. Aleix Espargaro grabbed P7 overall, despite nearly getting in a bit of a tangle with teammate Maverick Viñales on his final flying effort.

 

Joan Mir (36). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Joan Mir (36). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Reigning World Champion Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) is four tenths off the pace in P8, just ahead of Pol Espargaro in ninth and Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) in tenth – the Italian sneaking into the top 10 after a crash at Turn 6 in FP1 dampened his first session.

 

Jorge Martin (89). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Jorge Martin (89). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

0.8s splits the top 15 right down to FP1 pacesetter Brad Binder, and the riders outside the top 10 now face an uphill battle to try and earn an automatic Q2 place in the warmer, daytime conditions… see who can hit back on Saturday with FP3 at 13:15 (GMT +3), before qualifying for the first race of the season kicks off at 18:00.

FRIDAY: TOP 3

1 Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) – Suzuki – 1’53.432

2 Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) – Honda – +0.035

3 Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) – Suzuki – +0.147

 

 

Fernandez flies, denies Acosta on Friday

The first day of the season heralds a Red Bull KTM Ajo 1-2, with Schrötter a close third in Doha

 

Augusto Fernandez (37). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Augusto Fernandez (37). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) ended the first day of 2022 Moto2™ at the top of the timesheets, setting a 1:59.112 as his best lap but fastest in both sessions. The number 37 denied new teammate and rookie sensation Pedro Acosta by just over a tenth and a half, but the now number 51 still made it a Red Bull KTM Ajo 1-2 on Day 1. Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) – recovering from a broken hand – landed P3 late on.

FP1

Fernandez kicked off 2022 in perfect fashion, with 0.138 in hand in FP1. Jake Dixon (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) was second quickest, with Celestino Vietti (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) picking up P3 on his final flying lap.

Fermin Aldeguer (MB Conveyors Speed Up) was P4 and 0.393s away from Fernandez’s 2:00.290, with Aron Canet (Flexbox HP40) rounding out the top five ahead of reigning Moto3™ World Champion Acosta.

Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Italtrans Racing Team) suffered an issue with his machine with just over 15 minutes left of the session, rider ok.

FP2

The opening exchanges of FP2 were busy as track conditions allowed the riders to immediately improve their times. Dixon rose to the top on his fifth flying lap, before Canet moved the goalposts with just under 10 minutes to go. Acosta and Fernandez then exchanged P1 and Dixon crashed – unhurt – as he chased a time to go back to the summit. In the end, Fernandez held P1 from Acosta, with Schrötter rising to P3 on his last lap.

Dalla Porta crashed too, as did Simone Corsi (MV Agusta Forward Racing), riders ok.

Provisional Q2 places

Behind Fernandez, Acosta and Schrötter at the top, Vietti edged out Canet by 0.004 as the pair finished P4 and P5 respectively.

Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) is sixth going into Saturday’s action, with rookie Filip Salač (Gresini Racing Moto2™) going well in FP2 to finish seventh. Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) and Cameron Beaubier (American Racing) were P8 and P9 respectively, as Dixon slipped to P10 after his crash.

Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) pipped teammate Sam Lowes to P11, ahead of Albert Arenas (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team). Manuel Gonzalez (Yamaha VR46 Master Camp Team) impressed on his debut day in P14, the rookie moving over from WorldSSP and making a splash on Friday.

Will that change on Saturday? Tune in for FP3 at 12:20 (GMT +3), before qualifying from 16:25!

FRIDAY: TOP 3

1 Augusto Fernandez (Red Bull KTM Ajo) – Kalex – 1’59.112

2 Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo) – Kalex – +0.160

3 Marcel Schrötter (Liqui Moly Intact GP) – Kalex – +0.164

 

 

Guevara grabs the advantage on Day 1 in Doha

The GASGAS rider heads the combined timesheets on Friday, with a sizeable four tenths in hand after FP2

 

Izan Guevara (28). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Izan Guevara (28). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Izan Guevara (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team) claimed the first Friday Moto3™ honours of the season thanks to a late 2:04.920 in FP2 at the Grand Prix of Qatar, pulling an impressive 0.4 seconds clear of the pack. That pack was led by John McPhee (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), with FP1 pacesetter and 2021 runner up Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) ending Day 1 in P3 thanks to his morning best.

FP1

Foggia put in a commanding performance in the first session of the season, heading the timesheets by a whopping 0.9 seconds. Second was compatriot Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team), with Carlos Tatay (CFMoto Racing PrüstelGP) third quickest but 1.1 seconds off the top. Tatsuki Suzuki made it two Leopard Racing machines in the top five as the Japanese rider claimed P4, with P5 going the way of Riccardo Rossi (SIC58 Squadra Corse).

Track conditions were better than expected, and there were no crashers in FP1.

FP2

Most of the action came in the final five minutes of FP2, but ahead of the final flurry of fast laps, Guevera had to pull up at the end of the front straight with a broken chain. Luckily, the Aspar Team mechanics were able to sort the issue as the Spanish sophomore then went out to slam home the only 2:04 of the day. McPhee briefly sat top with his final fast lap before being deposed, with Suzuki third fastest in FP2.

Ayumu Sasaki (Sterilgarda Husqvarna Max) suffered a technical problem.

Provisional Q2 places

Behind Guevara and McPhee from their FP2 bests, Foggia slots into third thanks to his FP1 stunner – and the Italian rode alone in the closing stages while others went in search of a tow. Suzuki ends the day in fourth, and Sergio Garcia (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team) completed the top five, 0.5s off Guevara.

Migno slots into sixth ahead of 2021 Qatar GP winner Jaume Masia (Red Bull KTM Ajo), with CFMoto Racing PrüstelGP in formation in P8 and P9; Tatay pipping teammate Xavier Artigas. Rossi was 10th.

The final four riders set to move straight through to Q2 as it stands are previous Qatar winner Kaito Toba (CIP Green Power), compatriot Ryusei Yamanaka (MT Helmets – MSI), rookie Joel Kelso (CIP Green Power) and Deniz Öncü (Red Bull KTM Tech3).

See how that shuffles in FP3 from 11:25 (GMT +3), before qualifying begins from 15:30.

FRIDAY: TOP 3

1 Izan Guevara (Gaviota GASGAS Aspar Team) – GASGAS – 2’04.920

2 John McPhee (Sterilgarda Husqvarna Max) – Husqvarna – +0.424

3 Dennis Foggia (Leopard Racing) – Honda – +0.494

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Tech3 KTM Factory Racing:

Tech3 KTM Factory Racing’s Rookies Duo Launches 2022 MotoGP campaign in Qatar

Tech3 KTM Factory Racing and their exciting duo of rookies Raul Fernandez and Remy Gardner travelled to Doha in Qatar this week for the opening round of the 2022 MotoGP™ World Championship. After two very busy media days on Wednesday and Thursday filled with interviews, shootings, and fun activities, things got serious today as the MotoGP™ class launched the festivities with Free Practice 1 and 2 at the Losail International Circuit.

The first session of the season started at 13:40 local time (GMT+3) in Doha and Raul Fernandez was eager to reunite with his KTM RC16, less than two weeks after the official MotoGP™ test in Mandalika. Testing is testing, but nothing matches a race weekend and the challenges it carries, and it was obvious that the Spaniard was ready for it today for his first time on the Losail International Circuit with a MotoGP™ engine. After a first session of discovery and observation, Raul entered the arena under the lights for a night session in preparation for the Grand Prix of Qatar, set to be held at night time on Sunday, at 18:00 local time (GMT+3). He significantly improved his lap-time from the morning, with 1’54.884. He finished the day ahead of all the other rookies.

Remy Gardner was also really excited to get his MotoGP™ career started here in Doha after a very intense preseason in Sepang and Mandalika. The Australian rider had a similar experience to his teammate as the first practice was all about track discovery with a much more powerful engine to what he had been used to here in the past. At night, Remy made some big improvements and reached his best-lap time in 1’54.929. With the top 15 riders all less than one second from each other, our number 87 finished the day in P21, only 1.497 seconds from the top, promising us a very exciting weekend at the Grand Prix of Qatar.

The action will resume tomorrow with FP3 at 13:15 track time (GMT+3), followed by the final Free Practice at 17:20 (GMT+3). Both Remy and Raul will then have their first test when Qualifying 1 kicks-off at 18:00 (GMT+3).

Raul Fernandez

Position: 19th

Time: 1’54.884

Laps: 32

“Today was a difficult day, I believe for all the rookies as well. The Losail International Circuit is a difficult layout, and even more so with a MotoGP engine. Here, you only have one free practice with a decent track temperature, so we did not do too many kilometers in the end. I am happy at the end of the day, as the gap with the top rider is not so big, and I believe that I can get even closer to them.”

Remy Gardner

Position: 21st

Time: 1’54.929

Laps: 32

“Today was my first day as a MotoGP rider and I had a lot of fun out on track. This track feels so different on a MotoGP bike for sure, the corners come much faster and I need to get used to this. We still have some things to improve on my bike set-up, but I believe that we are in the right direction. I enjoyed today a lot and I already look forward to getting back on track tomorrow.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:

Strong opening night for the Repsol Honda Team in Qatar

Marc Marquez opens the year with a solid second place, less than a tenth from the top as Pol Espargaro posts steady improvements and quick times across Friday.

The 2022 MotoGP World Championship season officially got underway in Qatar, the Repsol Honda Team eagerly returning to the racetrack after the winter break. As always, conditions around the Lusail International Circuit improved over the course of the opening day, the first session held under daylight and the second session held at night, under the lights.

A strong Free Practice 1 opened the year for the Repsol Honda Team as Pol Espargaro finished fourth, just a hundredth of a second clear of teammate Marc Marquez. This form would continue into the evening session, Free Practice 2 getting underway at 18:00 Local Time – the same time the race is scheduled for on Sunday.

No matter the conditions in Lusail, Marc Marquez was able to show his pace and was never more than half a second from the fastest time. In the morning the eight-time World Champion ended fifth, 0.286s back on Brad Binder who topped the session. As darkness descended for FP2, Marquez improved his time to a 1’53.467 – over a second and a half faster, to end the day as the second fastest rider and top Honda. The objective for tomorrow is the front two rows of the grid as Marquez continues to find his feet on the new bike.

Pol Espargaro looked strong in both morning and evening conditions, fourth in FP1 and 1.2 seconds faster in FP2. This improvement saw the #44 finish the day in ninth place overall, just 0.531s off Alex Rins who topped the opening day of the season. Confident there’s still more to come, Espargaro is willing to push hard in the morning if his place in Q2 comes under any risk. It was an overall confidence building day for the Repsol Honda Team rider.

Preparations for the Qatar Grand Prix continue on Saturday, March 05. Free Practice 3 begins the day at 13:15 Local Time before the battle for the first pole position of the year starts at 18:00 Local Time – the same time as Sunday’s race.

Marc Marquez

SECOND  1’53.467

“Overall I think we are in a better position than we were expecting and I think that a good target for us tomorrow is to aim for the front two rows. We still need to understand how to improve our rhythm a bit to close the gap to the top. I feel like I am riding quite ‘clean’, I am still working to understand the front of the new bike so my riding does not yet look like ‘Marquez style’ but the lap time is coming. It’s about being patient, it’s very early in the season and this is normally a track where we struggle a bit. It’s still Friday though, the weekend has just started. Today I pushed, tomorrow I will push again.”

Pol Espargaro

NINTH  1’53.963

“It felt good today, especially at a track like here in Qatar where usually I struggle a little bit. We had a good run with our first tyre in FP2 but on the second tyre we had some problems so couldn’t push to the maximum. What’s good is that our time from the first tyre is good enough for the top ten, it’s a big improvement over last year where we had to push a lot just to achieve this – it shows the work the team has done over winter. Tomorrow will be a busy day of trying things, to be fast over one lap and also looking to be fast for the race.”

 

 

 

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

WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team gets 2022 season underway in Qatar  

Andrea Dovizioso and Darryn Binder conclude day one at the Losail International Circuit in P14 and P24.

The Grand Prix of Qatar kicked off today in hot conditions, although the sky was cloudy during the first Free Practice session of the year in the afternoon. Yet, once the sun set over the Losail International Circuit, lap times got quicker on a cooler asphalt illuminated by the famous floodlights all around the 5.4-kilometer circuit outside of Qatar’s capital Doha. Throughout the day, both WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team riders got back in the rhythm of a race weekend and improved their lap times with nearly each exit.

Andrea Dovizioso is returning to a track this weekend, where he already celebrated two wins and three second places, but missed out on the two rounds at the Losail International Circuit one year ago. Therefore, he started to re-adapt step by step aboard his Yamaha YZR-M1. He lowered his lap time from session one to session two by 1.742 seconds and concluded the opening day of the season just 0.182 seconds behind the top 10.

On the other side of the WithU Yamaha RNF MotoGP Team garage, premier class rookie Darryn Binder stepped forward gradually throughout Friday. The South African found out more and more about the bike and the circuit and found himself eventually 1.762 seconds behind his teammate, but was optimistic to further close the gap to the front tomorrow.

Following the opening day of the season, the Qatar GP is set to continue tomorrow with Free Practice three at 13:15 local time (11:15 CET), followed by FP4 at 17:20 (15:20 CET) and the all-important two Qualifying sessions at 18:00 (16:00 CET) and 18:25 (16:25 CET) to determine the first starting grid of the 2022 MotoGP World Championship season.

ANDREA DOVIZIOSO

“I’m happy because I’m closer and closer in terms of pace and also my lap time got faster and faster, meaning that I was getting closer to the top. At the same time my overall feeling was improving. It’s very nice to feel the turning of the bike, but everybody is incredibly fast. Even if you do a good lap time, it’s not even enough for the top 10. This is a bit tricky, as we know it’s impossible in FP3 tomorrow to improve the lap time again. Therefore, it’s going to be difficult, but we are ready to work on it.”

DARRYN BINDER

“There’s a big difference from the test to the first official weekend. Just arriving this morning and you know that you have to be on time and you start when the green light goes green. It just gives everybody a different feeling. The whole vibe is different, it’s race weekend, which is super cool. I was feeling a bit strange going into FP1, as this is the beginning of the first official weekend. We started with some difficulties. I went out of the pits and unfortunately my belly pan broke, I had to come in after one lap and change it, which disrupted our plan a bit. I just wanted to be out there to learn, because we haven’t got that much time. At the end of FP1, I felt quite alright, did as many laps as I could and was just waiting for FP2 tonight to have better conditions. It started off quite good, I improved quite a lot, but later we had a bit of a technical issue, at the end I managed to improve again. I was looking for a lot more with the soft tyres. It’s been a difficult first day, though saying that, I feel I’m not too far from the other guys. Tomorrow, we’ll sort everything out and just do our best.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Pramac Racing:

QATAR GP – Martin ended in P4 and Zarco P18 after the first day of practice.

Pramac Racing Team riders Johann Zarco and Jorge Martín were back on track again at the Lusail Circuit to face the inaugural Grand Prix of the 2022 MotoGP World Championship. On the strength of the results obtained in the two test sessions, Jorge Martin ended the first day of free practice with the fourth fastest time during the FP2 with a time of 1:53.652. Johann Zarco, where on this circuit he scored two consecutive podiums last season, lacked some confidence today, ending the first day of free practice in eighteenth place with a time of 1:54.656.
Jorge Martín

A positive first day, I am very satisfied, finishing with the fourth fastest time is definitely a good start but I want to do even better. Tomorrow it will be important to have a good qualifying session to start at the front on Sunday.

Johann Zarco

A difficult day, I was hoping to finish in the top ten because it will be difficult to get into Q2 but we’ll try anyway. Tomorrow we’ll stay focused, it’s a track I really like and where we can do well, so we’ll give our best.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Mooney VR46 Racing Team:

DAY1 OF THE MOONEY VR46 RACING TEAM IN DOHA

Historic debut for the Made in Tavullia MotoGP Team in the FP1 of the Qatar GP. Marini and Bezzecchi closed the first free practices sessions respectively in P23 and P20 in the combined standings

Losail (Qatar), March 4th 2022 – The Mooney VR46 Racing Team will close the Day1 at the Losail International Circuit, the real debut on the track in a race weekend for the team from Tavullia. Riding the Ducati Desmosedici GP, Luca Marini and Marco Bezzecchi are respectively in P23 and P20.

Among the first guys to test the Doha track in the FP1 with the GP22 bike, Luca closes the first session with a best lap time of 1’56.540. On track in the FP2 to improve his feelings, he is the victim of a crash in the middle of the session and signs a best lap time of the day of 1’55.775.

Rookie debut for Marco, 1’57.430 in the morning, and capable of an important step forward between the two sessions. He signs a flying lap of 1’54.900 improving by over two and a half seconds.

For both, the last two free practice sessions are scheduled for tomorrow before qualifying, which will start at 06:00 pm local time (04:00 pm CET ed).

Luca Marini #10: 

A difficult start for this Championship, lots of things today and now it is important to reset and get back on track tomorrow. In terms of riding, I can say that the grip on the front is very difficult, completely different feelings than in Indonesia. With the crash in FP2, I was not able to do a lot of laps, but tomorrow we have two session from improving. We will not change to much he bike, we will continue to analyse my feelings and work on the electronics. There we can make a step forward.

Marco Bezzecchi #72:

It was a good day: fun and exciting. It was the first day I expected, even on lap times. The level is very high in this category and you have to take care of every detail. Tomorrow we will continue to work, today we did well with the Team and we can make a step forward in terms of electronics for the qualifying.

Pablo Nieto, Team Director:

Today was a special day, the first time for many of us and I’m quite happy with how it went. Luca had a good start, but the crash in the FP2 was not expected and slowed down our plan a bit. Marco did a great job, he is a rookie and tomorrow he can make a step forward to get closer to the group.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Team Gresini Racing MotoGP:

BASTIANINI JUST OUTSIDE Q2 ON DAY ONE IN QATAR

#Qatar free practice. Team Gresini MotoGP had a strong start in Qatar with Enea Bastianini among the protagonists in these first two FP sessions of 2022. The rider #23 showed great signs already in FP1, lapping with hard tyres and setting interesting times,while im FP2 only an issue in the last split prevented him from entering the direct Q2 admission group. Only 42 thousandths separate the ‘beast’ (11th) from the top ten. Will it be a mission impossible tomorrow in FP3? The Team Gresini rider does not think so.

Very first day at school for Fabio Di Giannantonio who was less than two seconds away from the top, including a little bit of regret. A crash in FP1 basically cost him half the session (at least 15 minutes). In FP2, a slower rider was in the way and ruined his quick-lap attempt.

FP3 will get underway at Doha tomorrow at 13:15 (GMT +3).

11st – ENEA BASTIANINI #23 (1’54.013)

“The first day was positive, we were quick in both sessions despite some small feeling issues on the front end. We lost plenty of time in the last sector during the time attack and I couldn’t get on the gas the perfect way at turn 15. We lost at least four tenths in that area: without that I would be in Q2. Tomorrow in FP3 it will be hard, but we will try our best.”

22nd – FABIO DI GIANNANTONIO #49 (1’55.371)

“Today’s emotions were incredible and I can finally say this new adventure has finally started. We worked well even though I’m only half happy: I’m coming from Moto2 where the goal was to win the race and seeing myself so far back makes things a bit more complicated, but it’s fair as I have a lot to learn. I need to understand how I can be faster. Unfortunately I crashed this morning at turn three and if there wasn’t a rider on the line in the afternoon I would have been a little closer to the top.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Idemitsu:

TAKA SECOND IN FP1 AS NEW SEASON STARTS IN QATAR

4 March 2022 | Qatar GP Practice

Taka Nakagami wasted no time in demonstrating his potential on the new Honda RC213v machinery as the 2022 MotoGP World Championship officially got underway in Qatar on Friday. The season started in earnest at the Losail International Circuit and the LCR Honda IDEMITSU rider impressed by taking 2nd spot in the first free practice session of the 2022 calendar.

With FP1 and FP2 now taking place in contrasting day-night conditions, Taka laid down a marker with his final run in the afternoon as he went fastest with his penultimate lap before being edged out by KTM rider Brad Binder. Track conditions were very different once the sun had set, but the Japanese rider narrowly missed out on a top-10 spot and will now fight hard for direct entry to Q1 on Saturday.

Takaaki Nakagami – 12th

(1’54.038)

“Finishing P2 in FP1 was a great way to start. It was a really good feeling this morning. In FP2, we went from day-time to night and the conditions were completely different, but I was only one tenth outside the top-10 lap time. The feeling (with the bike) was good, but we still have a lot of margin to improve and that’s really important. I’m quite happy about how the day went. We’ll keep pushing and working hard with my team. I’m looking forward to the second day here in Qatar.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Castrol:

ÁLEX MÁRQUEZ UPBEAT AFTER OPENING DAY OF QATAR GP

4 March 2022 | Qatar GP Practice

Álex Márquez is confident there is plenty more to come after a mixed first day of free practice at the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix on Friday. The LCR Honda CASTROL rider showed his undoubted pace on the 2022 Honda prototype, but has work to do ahead of qualifying on Saturday following a competitive FP2 session at the Losail International Circuit.

The Spaniard translated his progressive pre-season testing form into an impressive showing in FP1 as he eased into the top-10 on his final run. Although he was unable to maintain that momentum in FP2 as dusk fell, Álex was still optimistic about his chances ahead of the opening GP of the new season on Sunday.

Álex Márquez – 16th

(1’54.475)

“FP1 was really good and I felt confident with the bike and then for FP2, the first run was really good, but for the second one we put on the soft rear tyre with the new front and I made two mistakes, which I apologise to the team for. But, at least, we were able to put on another tyre and be fast again, but not enough to be in Q2 directly. We’ll try tomorrow to have a good FP3, regain our confidence, be fast in FP4 and, hopefully, Q1 as well. I’ll try my best and we’ll look to be as competitive as we can.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki ECSTAR:

QATAR WEEKEND KICKS OFF WITH SUZUKI FIRST AND THIRD

Alex Rins: 1st – 1’53.432

Joan Mir: 3rd – 1’53.579 (+ 0.147s)

Team Suzuki Ecstar enjoyed a great start to the first race weekend of the season with both riders showing excellent early pace at Losail International Circuit in Qatar.

The afternoon’s FP1 session started out cloudy with some dust still hanging around the track, but it didn’t stop Alex Rins from lighting up the timesheets. Joan Mir was quick to join his teammate in the Top 5 and both riders clocked very quick top speeds. Alex and Joan favoured the hard compound tyres for the majority of the session but switched to softs for the final laps. Rins closed FP1 in 3rd, and Mir in 7th. The Top 15 riders were covered by 1 second.

As night fell the team were feeling prepared for FP2, especially as it was likely to be the Top 10 splitter for qualifying with temperatures more favourable in the evening than the afternoon. The Suzuki pair took it easy in the first part of the session, before going for time attacks. Mir was the first one to hit the top of the timesheets, and then Rins did the same. The session continued to tick by, and with less than 5 minutes to go both riders headed out for a final push. Rins was extremely strong over several sectors, especially sector 3, and this allowed him to reclaim top spot. Mir was close behind in 3rd.

Alex Rins:

“Today was a good day, we worked hard in the pre-season and it seems to have paid off because the bike is working well – even a bit better than we expected! I was able to be fast with used tyres and new ones, so that gives me some confidence for the next days. Obviously, we need to keep working and pushing because the level is high out there, but it’s certainly a great start.”

Joan Mir:

“It’s only the first day, but I’m very happy about how everything’s going, I feel great with the bike and we can really see and feel that the package has improved compared with last year. We understood what was needed to get faster and more competitive, and now everything feels a little easier, so that’s really important. I tried all the tyre options and I liked the feeling of all of them here, so I’m looking forward to tomorrow.”

Livio Suppo – Team Manager:

“It’s a good start to the weekend, and a good initiation for me as a first day on track. Both our guys did a really good job and the bike is looking very fast, for a Friday I can’t ask for more! We’re aiming to continue like this for the whole weekend, and the feeling is good for the coming days.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Monster Energy Yamaha:

DILIGENT START FOR MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP ON QATAR GP FRIDAY

Losail (Qatar), 4th March 2022

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo kicked off their 2022 MotoGP campaign today at the Losail International Circuit. They finished in 5th and 8th place respectively in the combined Friday free practice timesheets.

5th FRANCO MORBIDELLI 1’53.845 / 18 + 19 LAPS

8th FABIO QUARTARARO 1’53.906 / 18 + 17 LAPS

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP’s Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo went straight down to business today during the first two free practice sessions of the Grand Prix of Qatar. They worked on their race set-ups for Sunday and finished the day in 5th and 8th place respectively in the combined Friday free practice results.

Morbidelli put any concerns about his healing progress to bed in the hot and humid FP1. He was soon up in third place with a 1‘55.551, on his seventh lap. The Italian showed no signs of slowing down, completing two runs of nine laps each. He improved his best time to a 1‘55.294s, set on lap 17/18, to finish the first session of the 2022 season in sixth place, 0.443s from first.

The number-21 rider resumed the action as the clock struck 18:00 local time. He continued to work on his bike‘s setting, only to put it to the test at the very end of the session. He set a 1‘53.845s on lap 18/19, that moved him up to the top 5. He concluded his first day of riding at 100% fitness in fifth place in the FP2 and the combined standings, 0.413s from first.

Quartararo had his head in the game from the off. He immediately started preparing for Sunday‘s race, eager to repeat the 2021 Doha GP result. The Frenchman worked systematically on his bike‘s set-up and gradually improved his race pace over the first 45 minutes of riding action at Losail. He produced a 1‘55.600s on lap 17/18, that put him in 11th place, 0.749s from the top.

The number-20 rider made a big step in the evening session. With the sun setting, the conditions got trickier, catching out multiple riders. Meanwhile the defending World Champion shaved off more than 1.3s of his FP1 time by his twelfth lap. With eight minutes on the clock, he started his final push of the first free practice Friday of 2022. He ended in eighth place in the FP2 and combined FP standings, 0.474s from first, with a 1‘53.906s best lap set on 16/17.

MASSIMO MEREGALLI

TEAM DIRECTOR

Today we‘ve officially kicked off the 2022 season. It‘s been a long time since we‘ve last ridden here. In previous years, we had a test in Qatar before the race but this time we didn‘t, so we are working with last year‘s data. FP1 gave us the feeling that the track was already fast, but we approached it like we always approach the first session of the season: no time attacks, just collecting data without pushing too much. After that, we went into FP2 with the aim to do the time attack to secure a provisional place in Q2 because we expect the conditions of FP3 to be hotter, reducing the performance. We reached our target. Even though there‘s a gap to the top that we need to bridge in time for Q2, we feel positive that we have enough time to get the job done. Tonight we will compare both riders‘ data, and tomorrow we will evaluate the modifications that we‘ll prepare for FP3.

FRANCO MORBIDELLI

It was a good day for us. We‘ve been fast in FP1 and in FP2 as well. We also had a chance to try the medium tyre. I was expecting a little bit more from it. I’m not entirely happy about that run, but everything came back on the soft tyre, and I was able to make a decent lap or five. The competition is fast, so we’ve got to dig to find something. But at the same time, I’m really happy because we’re getting back to working for important things and the top spots and being with the top guys, and that’s a very nice feeling.

FABIO QUARTARARO

Today was a tough day. I didn’t feel so good on the bike to be honest. We need to find a way to improve. I was fast in the first two sectors, but something was missing today, and we need to understand why and solve it for tomorrow. I felt like I was riding on the limit, but we’re not on our real limit. But it’s just the first day in Qatar – normally we have a test here. We’ll check last year’s data to see what’s different and where we can improve. We are not extremely safe for the Q2, so we will see if we will do a time attack in FP3 or not.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Ducati Lenovo Team:

Jack Miller concludes Friday free practice for GP of Qatar in sixth place. Pecco Bagnaia tenth

Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia took to the track this afternoon for the first Friday free practice of the 2022 MotoGP season, which begins as usual, at night, with the Grand Prix of Qatar, at the Lusail International Circuit in Doha this weekend.

After the first FP1 session held in the daylight with track temperatures just above 40 degrees, the Ducati Lenovo Team riders returned to the track at 6pm, as the sun went down, for FP2, finding conditions similar to those they are likely to encounter in Sunday’s race, which is scheduled at the same time. On the floodlit track, both Jack and Pecco improved on their morning lap times and managed to finish Friday in the top ten, securing a provisional spot in Q2 tomorrow.

In his time attack attempt, Miller improved his lap time by over a second and a half, ending Friday in sixth place. On the other side of the garage,  Bagnaia, who finished the first session only 18th after suffering a small crash, stopped the clock at 1:53.971 in FP2 to set the tenth fastest time overall.

Jack Miller (#43 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 6th (1:53.870)

“All in all, it was a good day. In FP2, I had some small issues, and I couldn’t ride consistently. In the end, I was able to put a good lap together and I am satisfied with it. Despite the sand surrounding the circuit, the asphalt was pretty clean today, and the conditions were excellent. I’m satisfied with these first two sessions here in Qatar, and I’m confident I can improve again tomorrow”.

Francesco Bagnaia (#63 Ducati Lenovo Team) – 10th (1:53.971)

“I’m not completely happy with this first day because I struggled a bit, especially at the start. I was expecting to be a little faster this evening in FP2. Anyway, I am positive: my team and I have already identified the areas we need to work on to improve my feeling with the bike, so I am confident I can do well in qualifying tomorrow”.

The Ducati Lenovo Team riders will be back on track tomorrow at 13:15 local time (12:15 Italian time) for FP3, while the first qualifying of the 2022 season will take place at 18:00 (CET +2.00), after FP4.

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