Aleix Espargaro (NGM Forward Racing) set the pace in the opening FP1 session of the year for the premier class in Qatar, with Alvaro Baustista (GO&FUN Honda Gresini) and Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech3) second and third respectively.
In the first Grand Prix practice session of the new ‘Open’ class era it was Espargaro in P1 with his Open entry Forward Yamaha with a 1:55.201 best lap, with Bautista 0.466s behind him. Espargaro’s pace was over 0.3s slower than he went in testing here two weeks ago.
At the start of his second season in MotoGP Smith was third by a 0.6s margin, with Andrea Iannone (Pramac Racing) and rookie Pol Espargaro (Monster Yamaha Tech3) also in top five as the riders who tested in Qatar occupying the top end of the timesheet. The younger Espargaro brother appears to be riding smoothly despite his collarbone injury sustained ten days ago at this track.
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 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 due to track debris.
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