Espargaro continues to lead on second day of practice in Qatar

Open class rider improves on best time while factory teams continue to flounder

Aleix Espargaro continued to assert his dominance on the free practice session for the opening round of the 2014 MotoGP championship at the Losail International Circuit with the NGM Forward Racing rider leading the way ahead of fellow Open class rider Andrea Iannone on the Pramac Racing machine and GO&Fun Honda Gresini rider Alvaro Bautista maintained a spot in the top three times.

I’m really happy to close the second day here in Qatar on top of the time sheets.

Aleix Espargaro

Espargaro led the day from early on and improved lap by lap to eventually set a best time of 1m 54.773s with Iannone a further .413s behind and Bautista .467s behind. The Ducati Team are also getting to grips with the new Open class and Andrea Dovizioso had a very productive day with the 4th best lap time of 1m 55.250s with the best of the factory machines coming in the form of a recouperating Marc Marquez on his Repsol Honda machine and the Spaniard pushed through the pain barrier to set a 1m 55.446s lap.

Bradley Smith suffered a wicked highside during the third free practice session but nevertheless the Monster Yamaha tech 3 rider astonishingly proceeded to take his second machine on track and set the 6th fastest time of 1m 55.474s but while Smith will be very happy with his performance, there were no smiles on the face of Movistar Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo who is continuing to struggle on his YZR-M1and the new Bridgestone tires with a 1m 55.495s the best the Spaniard could achieve.

Andrea Iannone, Pramac Racing Team
Andrea Iannone, Pramac Racing Team

Photo by: Pramac Racing

Stefan Bradl set the 8th fastest time on his LCR Honda machine with his best lap of 1m 55.676s good enough to stay 0.181s ahead of Valentino Rossi despite the Italian actually improving on his day one time on his Movistar Yamaha. Dani Pedrosa also sits in an uncharacteristic 11th place on the timing sheets with a 1m 55.754s lap just better than that of Pol Espargaro’s 1m 55.793s lap for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 squad. Cal Crutchlow continues to experiment with his Ducati machine and is 12th with a 1m 56.013s lap and ahead of Nicky Hayden setting a best time of 1m 56.357s for the Drive M7 Aspar team.

Espargaro was very happy with his performance today but remains focused on Sunday’s race and said, “I’m really happy to close the second day here in Qatar on top of the time sheets. We have a good race pace with the hard tyre and then we could make another step forward with the soft tyre. We have a good set up but we need to keep on working. Tomorrow we aim at the front row in order to fight for the podium on Sunday. We know that it won’t be easy as we loose a lot in terms of top speed on the long straight, but finishing on top for two days in arrow is already a fantastic result. Together with the team we are all very excited and motivated.”

Speaking after grabbing tray's second best time, Iannone said, "I'm very happy with how it went today , I never expected to go so well. Surely it is also thanks to all the guys who worked at home this winter . I am happy that I was able to take advantage of almost one hundred percent of my bikes potential. We still have to continue working to improve some small things on the bike to make sure that I am able to ride better for the race. I thank the whole team for the work done so far and I want to thank again Ducati for all the support they give me."

Alvaro Bautista, Go & Fun Honda Gresini
Alvaro Bautista, Go & Fun Honda Gresini

Photo by: Team Gresini

Bautista remained very upbeat after making some positive steps with his bike set up today and speaking afterwards he said, “I'm happy because at the moment I continue to be the fastest rider with the medium compound tyres, just behind the motorcycles that can use the extrasoft option. In addition, my feeling with the bike has improved slightly compared to the recent tests. We need to further improve the behaviour of the bike with worn tires, because after only 3 or 4 laps the rear tire performance drops a lot.

Tomorrow we still have one more free practice session to try to improve the situation, then we will give the maximum in qualifying to try to get a good starting position, even though it will be hard to beat the bike that can use the extrasoft rear tire, which offers an advantage of about 4 tenths of a second,” Bautista added.

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About this article
Series MOTOGP
Article type Practice reports
Tags bautista, espargaro, forward racing, gresini, hatch, honda, iannone, pramac