Espargaro Sets Early MotoGP Pace In Qatar

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Aleix Espargaro was fastest in the first practice session for Sunday's MotoGP opener in Qatar. (MotoGP Photo)
Aleix Espargaro was fastest in the first practice session for Sunday's MotoGP opener in Qatar. (MotoGP Photo)
Aleix Espargaro was fastest in the first practice session for Sunday’s MotoGP opener in Qatar. (MotoGP Photo)

DOHA, Qatar -Aleix Espargaro of NGM Forward Racing set the pace in the opening FP1 session of the year for the premier MotoGP class at Qatar’s Losail Int’l Circuit on Thursday.

Alvaro Baustista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini) and Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech3) were second and third respectively.

In the first Grand Prix practice session of the new ‘Open’ class era it was Espargaro first with his Open entry Forward Yamaha with a 1:55.201, with Bautista .466 of a second behind him. Espargaro’s pace was more than .3 of a second slower than he was in testing in Qatar two weeks ago.

At the start of his second season in MotoGP Smith was third by a .6 of a second, with Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing) and rookie Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech3) also in top five. Riders who tested in Qatar occupied the top end of the timesheet.

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team) and Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) were the quickest Factory riders in sixth and seventh, whilst the top ten was completed by Colin Edwards (NGM Forward Racing), Jorge Lorenzo (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) and Nicky Hayden (Drive M7 Aspar).

World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was 11th as he tested his fitness after breaking his right leg in the preseason, whilst Yonny Hernandez (Energy T.I. Pramac Racing) finished 15th and went for a scan after walking away from a turn 16 crash which caused a brief red flag for debris.

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