DOHA, Qatar – Defending MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo led the way during the first practice of the season under lights at the Losail Int’l Circuit on Thursday.
Prior to Sunday’s Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar, the Yamaha Factory Racing rider finished ahead of Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Cal Crutchlow and Factory teammate Valentino Rossi. Marc Márquez headed Repsol Honda Team’s charge from fourth.
Thursday’s sole practice period for MotoGP not only launched the 2013 campaign, but also helped to mark the tenth weekend for the sport in Qatar. For the first time ever, the session had a direct bearing on qualifying; the combined top ten from across the opening three practices will go on to make up the Q2 qualifying line-up on Saturday.
It looked as though Britain’s Crutchlow was to retain the top spot, having also led the final pre-season test in Jerez, but Lorenzo moved ahead with a last-gasp 1’56.685 lap time. 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 Márquez and Andrea Dovizioso – now riding for Ducati Team – completed the top five.