Marquez sets the pace at MotoGP season opener in Qatar

Repsol Honda rider leads first free practice session ahead of teammate Pedrosa and Aleix Espargaro.

The 2015 MotoGP Championship got underway at the Losail International Circuit today with Repsol Honda riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa laying down an early marker in first and second on the timing sheets with Team Suzuki Ecstar rider Aleix Espargaro in third position.

Marquez and Pedrosa were immediately up to speed under the floodlights in Qatar and Marquez set his fastest time of 1m 55.281s just within a few laps of Pedrosa with both riders separated by just 0.073s.

It is always important to make a good start to the weekend.

Marc Marquez

Espargaro was very close on the Suzuki’s first competitive outing and set a best lap time of 1m 55.685 while his teammate Maverick Viñales ended his first day in the MotoGP class in 17th place with a best lap of 1m 56.922s.

Jorge Lorenzo ended his first day with the 4th best time of 1m 55.698s on the Movistar Yamaha with the Spaniard five places better than his teammate Valentino Rossi in 9th place.

CWM LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow continues to show he has the pace to challenge for podiums this year with the British rider setting the 5th best lap of 1m 55.818s, while the first Ducati on the timing sheets today was not the Factory machine but that of Pramac Racing’s Danilo Petrucci with the Italian leading his fellow countryman Andrea Dovizioso in 7th place and separated by just 0.041s.

Yonny Hernandez also put in a strong performance on the Pramac machine and his best lap time of 1m 56.139s was enough to finish ahead of Andrea Iannone on the second of the factory Ducati’s in the final of the top ten positions.

Pol Espargaro and Monster Yamaha Tech 3 teammate Bradley Smith ended their first day in 11th and 13th respectively while Scott Redding finished in 12th on the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda with a best lap of 1m 56.374s.

Stefan Bradl put in a solid start for the Athiná Forward Racing team 1m 56.577s while his teammate Loris Baz also worked hard to grab the final spot in the top 20 with a best lap of 1m 57.031s.

Karel Abraham ended the day in 15th on the AB Motoracing machine with a 1m 56.651s lap and 0.117s in front of Alex De Angelis for the Octo IodaRacing Team while Hector Barber ended the day in 8th for the Avintia Racing team and one place ahead of Jack Miller with the Australian rookie setting the 19th best lap time of 1m 56.983s.

Nicky Hayden finished in 21st for the Aspar MotoGP Team while his teammate Eugene Laverty ended in 23rd with a 1m 57.224s lap while Alvaro Bautista finished in 22nd and outpaced Aprilia Racing Team Gresini teammate Marco Melandri while Avintia Racing’s Mike Di Meglio finished in 24th.

Frontrunners very pleased on day one

Marquez was very happy with his first outing under competitive conditions and said: "Today went pretty well. It is always important to make a good start to the weekend. I felt good and the feeling was similar to that which we had in pre-season testing, although maybe there was a little less grip.

"We tried some things that we had prepared after the test and this went well. Tomorrow we will try to keep progressing, but we can't forget that the track surface here will improve a lot and the times will come down."

Likewise, Pedrosa was pleased with his performance and remains focused on getting the RC213V set up even better. He said: "We have completed the first session of the year and we have done quite well.

"Now we are going to work on the bike to in preparation for the coming days. We need to keep taking steps forward as the weekend goes on and keep improving our pace. The track was in quite good condition and we'll see how it evolves over the course of the Grand Prix weekend.”

Espargaro was very happy with his time attack but has a lot of set up needed on his machine up for race distance. He said: “It’s been a positive day. I found a lot of confidence with the hard tire but I’m very satisfied with my single lap with a soft one, since I’m up with the top riders.

"We wanted to recover some of the time we lost in the last test here in Qatar so we focused on finalising traction control and electronics. We had very important feedback that gives us many indications for the work we need to do next. Tomorrow I need to try a long run to evaluate the situation in terms of race-pace, but for the moment the work-plan is going smoothly.”

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Drivers Nicky Hayden , Valentino Rossi , Bradley Smith , Eugene Laverty , Marco Melandri , Alvaro Bautista , Andrea Dovizioso , Jorge Lorenzo , Cal Crutchlow , Stefan Bradl , Scott Redding , Aleix Espargaro , Dani Pedrosa , Karel Abraham , Marc Marquez , Yonny Hernandez , Danilo Petrucci , Loris Baz , Pol Espargaro , Andrea Iannone , Jack Miller , Maverick Viñales
Article type Breaking news