Lorenzo grabs top spot in first MotoGP session of the year in Qatar

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Reigning MotoGP Champion leads Crutchlow and Rossi under the lights

The first free practice session of the 2013 MotoGP season got underway under the lights at the Losail International Circuit in preparation for the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar and grabbing the limelight on day one was the reigning MotoGP Champion Jorge Lorenzo on his Yamaha Factory Racing machine with Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider Cal Crutchlow snatching second place while the return of Valentino Rossi for the Yamaha Factory Racing team saw the seven times MotoGP Champion securing third fastest slot on day one.

It's a very good way to start the season, on top.

Jorge Lorenzo

With just one session allocated on the first day of free practice, every one of the 24 riders were eager to get the season underway and make an early impression. Weather conditions were good for the 45-minute session with some dusty sand being blown onto the track early on. It didn’t take long for the top riders to rise to the top of the timings with Lorenzo and Rossi leading the way with the latter sitting in first place for over half the session. Lorenzo wasn’t fazed by Rossi and his stellar return to the Yamaha Factory Racing team and the Spaniard sent an early message to his teammate with a quickest time of 1m 56.685s while Crutchlow snatched second place at the death with a 1m 56.743s lap to that of Rossi’s 1m 56.756s.

Leading the charge for the Repsol Honda Team was rookie rider Marc Marquez who continues to show phenomenal speed on the RC213V and set the 4th fastest lap (1m 57.276s) while the Andrea Dovizioso set an encouraging time of 1m 57.538s for 5th place on the Ducati Team GP 13. Alvaro Bautista finished the first session in 6th place for the Go&Fun Honda Gresini squad setting a lap time of 1m 57.601s with LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl not far behind with his best lap of 1m 57.670s. Dani Pedrosa was not his usual self today and ended up with a 1m 57.749s lap to sit in 8th place ahead of top CRT rider Aleix Espargaro and the Power Electronics Aspar team (1m 57.843s) and the final top ten spot went to the second of the Ducati Team machines in the hands of Nicky Hayden with a 1m 57.926s lap.

Cal Crutchlow, Monster Yamaha Tech 3
Cal Crutchlow, Monster Yamaha Tech 3

Photo by: Hazrin Yeob Men Shah

Bradley Smith sits in 11th for the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team with a best time of 1m 58.369s while in 12th place is the Pramac Racing machine of Andrea Iannone with a best time of 1m 58.559s just better than that of his teammate, Ben Spies (1m 58.575s). Hector Barbera ended his day in 14th place on the Avintia Blusens machine (1m 59.608s) while Randy De Puniet (Power Electronics Aspar) sits in 15th place on a best time of 1m 59.633s. Karel Abraham ended the day in 16th for the Cardion AB Motoracing team on a best time of 1m 59.758s with NGM Forward Racing’s Colin Edwards set the 17th best time of 2m 0.341s.

Yonny Hernandez (Paul Bird Motorsport) ended the day in 18th with a best time of 2m 0.426s while Hiroshi Aoyama set the 19th best time of 2m 0.563s for the Avintia Blusens team. The final five places were taken up by Claudio Corti (NGM Forward Racing) - 2m 1.227s; Danilo Petrucci (Came IodaRacing Project) 2m 1.438s; Bryan Staring (Go&Fun Honda Gresini) - 2m 1.942s; Lukas Pesek (Came IodaRacing Project) - 2m 2.079s; Michael Laverty (Paul Bird Motorsport) - 2m 2.135s.

Lorenzo was in a very confident mood after topping the evening session and said, “It's a very good way to start the season, on top. To have three Yamahas in the first three positions like in Jerez means this track can be positive for us. We need to improve though because the other guys will come in the next practice. We’ll make the step little by little by riding, improving the bike and also the track will improve. Today we tried both bikes and tomorrow we will try the new chassis here.”

Happy with his first day, Crutchlow said, “It was a very good first session on a personal level with me finishing second and also for Yamaha with a clean sweep of the top three. As is always the case on the first night in Qatar the track was quite dirty, particularly off the racing line. Even on the racing line it was quite slippery but I am happy to be right in the mix from the start. We need to make some changes to the bike for tomorrow because I felt we had too much weight transfer on braking and acceleration but I've got to be happy to finish in second and ending up in between Jorge and Valentino.

Valentino Rossi
Valentino Rossi

Photo by: Yamaha MotoGP

Second place is great but I am not reading too much into it. As the track conditions improve some of the rest will get faster and it is still going to be very tough to be on the podium. I am looking forward to the race and being so competitive from the start certainly gives my confidence another lift and helps me carry on the momentum gained in testing,” Crutchlow added.

Rossi was very happy to be right back in the mix with the top riders and speaking afterwards he said, “The first practice was very positive for us, we are in third position and we are very close to Jorge. Our pace was ok, especially because I used just one set of tyres to understand if I could be fast with a lot of laps. The setting and balance of the bike is good so it looks like we can be competitive.”

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Series MOTOGP
Article type Practice report
Tags crutchlow, featured, hatch, lorenzo, rossi, tech 3, yamaha