Nicky Hayden (69) and Bradley Smith (38) are seen during preseason testing at Losail International Circuit. (Photo: Getty Images)

Nicky Hayden (69) and Bradley Smith (38) are seen during preseason testing at Losail International Circuit. (Photo: Getty Images)

The general race pace in next weekend’s season-opening Commercial Bank Grand Prix of is set to exceed that of 2013, according to tire supplier following the last preseason test at the Losail International Circuit.

At the final gathering of the preseason, it was NGM Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro who topped the timesheets to conclude an impressive testing period on the Forward Yamaha. However, Bridgestone was pleased with the pace overall.

“The final preseason test at Qatar was very productive,” explains Masao Azuma, Chief Engineer for the Bridgestone Motorsport Tire Development Department. “Both Bridgestone and the teams were able to collect a lot of data which will serve us well for the opening race of the season in a couple of weeks’ time.

“It was encouraging to see how quick the pace was during this test, both over a single lap and during the race simulations, as this track offers comparatively little grip compared to other venues on the calendar. The best lap time from this test was 0.6 seconds faster than the best race time from 2013 and many riders also had good results in their race simulations as well, so overall I am pleased that our 2014-spec tires worked well here.

“I would like to thank all the teams and riders for their efforts over the two months of preseason testing; I feel we are very well prepared for the first race of the season.”

This year’s Grand Prix in Qatar will be the 11th at the desert-based venue, which has featured on the calendar since 2004. It has hosted the season-opener since 2007, which in-turn has taken place under floodlights since 2008.

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