Raul Fernandez was quickest during MotoGP Free Practice Two (FP2) Friday evening at Lusail International Circuit, in Doha, Qatar. Riding his CryptoDATA RNF Aprilia, the Spaniard lapped the newly repaved 3.4-mile (5.4 km) track in 1:52.843, which was very close to Francesco Bagnaia’s All-Time Lap Record of 1:52.772.
Fabio Di Giannantonio was the best of rest with a 1:52.892 on his Gresini Racing Ducati, and Maverick Vinales rounded out the top three with a 1:52.936 on his factory Aprilia RS-GP.
The top 18 riders in the session were separated by just 1.094 seconds.
More, from a press release issued by Dorna:
Martin & Bagnaia split by 0.007s as Raul Fernandez goes fastest on Friday
The title contenders end Day 1 in P7 and P8 as Aprilia and Diggia take over the top three
Friday, 17 November 2023
Raul Fernandez (CryptoDATA RNF MotoGP™ Team) enjoyed a dream Friday Practice session at the Qatar Airways Grand Prix of Qatar, not only bagging himself a spot in Q2 but ending Friday fastest of the bunch. It was as close as ever though, with just 0.049s back to first on the chase Fabio Di Giannantonio (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) as the Italian looked strong from the off. The gap back to third fastest Maverick Viñales (Aprilia Racing) is even smaller too, just 0.044.
Title contenders Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) and Jorge Martin (Prima Pramac Racing), meanwhile, ended the day in P7 and P8. Split by just 14 points in the duel for the Championship, it’s even closer out on the circuit so far this weekend as the duo were just 0.007s apart.
There were Q2 spots up for grabs in Practice as the riders hit the circuit for a full hour of track time around the Lusail International Circuit. Bagnaia and Martin weren’t having it all their own way either, and as we headed into the closing stages, both riders needed to find time despite having ended FP1 higher up the order, with Martin fastest and Bagnaia third, two tenths back.
As always once the final few minutes were underway in the afternoon, red sectors came flying in. And it was Raul Fernandez who went top, beating Viñales’ benchmark. Martin pulled a lap time out of the bag to propel himself into the top 10, as did Bagnaia, but yellow flags then caught out several riders as Pol Espargaro (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3) crashed unhurt at the final corner while on a time that looked certain to take the #44 into the top 10. In the end, despite some late improvers, Martin and Bagnaia secured crucial top 10s.
As close as ever in MotoGP™
It’s tight at the top as Diggia, number 49, ended up a somewhat fitting 0.049 off Raul Fernandez, with that 0.044 back to Viñales becoming an even smaller 0.019 to Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) in fourth. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing) rounds out the top five as Aprilia came out swinging, only another 0.078 in arrears, with Luca Marini (Mooney VR46 Racing Team) putting in a very late run to grab P6.
From there it’s the only gap in the top ten bigger than a tenth down to Martin, that 0.007 back to Bagnaia and then a smashing Day 1 job from Augusto Fernandez (GASGAS Factory Racing Tech3). He was on a hot one in FP1 too, lighting up the timing screens before crash at Turn 14.
Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) had a solid day on the timesheets and stole a tow from Bagnaia to round out the top 10, too, denying Jack Miller (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) a place in Q2 by just 0.014.
There are some heavy hitters set for battle in Q1 on Saturday. Miller will be joined by the Sprint victor and podium finisher from last weekend Alex Marquez (Gresini Racing MotoGP™) as well as Franco Morbidelli (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) and Marco Bezzecchi (Mooney VR46 Racing Team), Johann Zarco (Prima Pramac Racing) and Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP™) – among others.
The penultimate qualifying of the year kicks off at 15:40 local time (GMT+3). There, we’ll know how Bagnaia and Martin will face down the next two battles for the maximum of 37 points on offer at Lusail… don’t miss it!
SHOWTIME IN QATAR
The stage is set for Qualifying and the Tissot Sprint! Make sure you tune in:
MotoGP™ FP2: 15:00
MotoGP™ Q1: 15:40
MotoGP™ Q2: 16:05
MotoGP™ Sprint: 20:00
Aldeguer takes lap record in demolition job on Day 1
Fermin Aldeguer (Beta Tools SpeedUp) is the rider to beat after the opening day of the Qatar Airways Grand Prix of Qatar. The Boscosuro rider’s 1:58.059, a new all-time lap record, came in the late stages of Practice 2 to deny Aron Canet (Pons Wegow Los40) Day 1 honours by 0.104s. Sam Lowes (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team) enjoyed a positive Friday too, rounding out the top three.
Somkiat Chantra (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) made a big improvement in P2 to move up to fourth place ahead of Jake Dixon (Inde GASGAS Aspar Team) who lit up the timing screens to eventually finish in 5th. Manuel Gonzalez (Correos Prepago Yamaha VR46 Mastercamp) was looking very strong in P1 as he took well to the Lusail International Circuit, and the Spaniard finished the day in P6 ahead of Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia).
It was a quiet day for Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo), who, despite looking there or thereabouts in Practice 1, could only manage 8th place overall on the combined timings. The World Champion finished just ahead of Alonso Lopez (Beta Tools SpeedUp) and Tony Arbolino (Elf Marc VDS Racing Team), the latter rounding out the top 10.
Moto2™ will be back in action on Saturday for Practice 3 at 14:15 and qualifying at 18:45 local (GMT +3), make sure to come back for more!
Moto3™: Masia maintains momentum ahead of match point
Jaume Masia (Leopard Racing) has shown superb speed on the opening day of the Qatar Airways Grand Prix of Qatar. The Spaniard topped the timesheets with his 2:06.794 seeing him sit half a second clear of the rest of the field, and over a second quicker than his closest title rival Ayumu Sasaki (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP).
Romano Fenati (Rivacold Snipers Team) found form in Practice 2 and was the closest to Masia in second, and despite a late-session trip to the gravel trap, Collin Veijer (Liqui Moly Husqvarna Intact GP) rounded out the top three on his first-ever visit to the Lusail International Circuit.
Ivan Ortola (Angeluss MTA Team) missed out on the top three by 0.009s as he took P4. Next up behind the Spaniard was Matteo Bertelle (Rivacold Snipers Team) who rounded out the top five ahead of Xavier Artigas (CFMOTO Racing PrüstelGP) and David Alonso (Gaviota ASGAS Aspar Team), the latter taking an early-session tumble.
Sasaki had a tougher Friday in Qatar and has work to do to on Saturday. The Japanese rider managed to salvage P8, as Daniel Holgado (Red Bull KTM Tech3) and Stefano Nepa (Angeluss MTA Team) completed Friday’s lightweight class top 10.
Moto3™ action continues on Saturday, make sure not to miss any of the action with Practice 3 at 14:30 local time (GMT +3) and qualifying at 17:50 (GMT +3). Can Masia set himself up to face match point from pole?