Movistar Yamaha MotoGP prepares for title fight as MotoGP season starts

Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi made the most of their first practice session to be ready for Sunday‘s racing action.

With the 2015 MotoGP season finally underway, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi return to Qatar and finished the first free practice session under the floodlights of the Losail circuit in fourth and ninth place.

On a completely dry circuit, as opposed to the conditions last week on the final day of testing, both Lorenzo and Rossi made the most of their first practice session to be ready for Sunday‘s racing action.

Lorenzo, who currently holds the Qatar pole position record, showed he‘s in good shape and ready to start the title challenge. Back to his typical routine, he left his box early and was the first rider to complete a lap around the slippery circuit.

After warming up his tyres, he was quick to post consistent times under the 1‘56 mark, dropping a 1‘55.698 lap as his fastest time. He ended the first practice in fourth position, just under 0,417s from the front.

Teammate Valentino Rossi was also eager to get to work. He left the pit box soon after his teammate to resume the testing schedule he was unable to complete during last week‘s interrupted Qatar testing session. Despite suffering from a lack of grip, he worked on the set-up of his YZR-M1 and gradually moved up the timesheets to a provisional fifth position with a 1‘56.162 lap. He later dropped four places, finishing 0,881s from the leading time as the session came to an end.

As Qatar is the only night race of the season, there will be a second and third free practice session tomorrow.

Jorge Lorenzo (4th / 1'55.698 / 17 laps): “Everybody has been quite fast on these new tyres, even if the track wasn‘t perfect. Moto2 almost broke a record, I think, but in MotoGP we need a little bit more grip. The track is dusty, so it looks like the bike is a bit flowy everywhere. It‘s difficult to have confidence but I think today our side has done a quite good job from the beginning. When I feel great on the bike, which wasn‘t on the last run, I feel great. To be honest, I hope to be much faster tomorrow. We are still a second from my best lap time from last year. We have a margin, but for a first practice, knowing the track is not perfect, this is not a bad start.”

Valentino Rossi (9th / 1'56.162 / 18 laps): “It was quite difficult because I wasn‘t fast enough and I‘m just in the ninth position. We tried something different than what we did during the test, but unfortunately it was bad for the rear tyre. I already damaged the rear tyre after five or six laps and the bike moved around a lot. We also weren‘t fast enough during the second part of the practice, but we‘ll take the data and now we have to try to understand how to improve. Unfortunately there was just one practice today, so we have to work on the data and try to modify the setting. We will wait for tomorrow to see if we are able to go faster. I have a problem with the rear tyre, which is very soft. There‘s a lack of grip that we have to fix and I have to improve my pace. I want to try to stay under the 1‘55 tomorrow and finish in the top ten for Saturday‘s qualifying session.”

Massimo Meregalli - Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director: “Finally the new MotoGP season has started and our results today were better than our expectations for the first free practice session. The conditions of the track weren‘t very good but they were still better than we thought. Jorge was fast and has been consistent for the whole session, but we still have a big margin to improve the bike. Vale suffered much more from a lack of grip and wasn‘t able to ride the bike the way he wanted. Tonight we will study all the data that we could collect from FP1 and we will prepare a good package for tomorrow‘s FP2.”

Tech3 pair back on track as 2015 begins in Qatar

Pol Espargaro began the first day of the 2015 MotoGP season with best lap time of 1’56.361 as the MotoGP paddock returned back to action at the Losail International Circuit. The young Spaniard got straight to work with his Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team and began refining the setup of the Yamaha YZR-M1 in preparation for the opening race on Sunday. The 23 year old finished the session in 11th and he set his quickest time on the 3rd lap as he completed 18 in total. His efforts saw him only a second from the top time and he also scored the fastest speed of the Yamaha MotoGP bikes with 344.6 kmh. Espargaro now looks onwards to tomorrow where he will intend to improve his position.

Meanwhile, Bradley Smith concluded the opening day of action under the floodlights in Qatar with a 13th placed finish in FP1. The young Briton dug deep and completed a total of 20 laps, which was more than any other rider, as he began making the necessary steps and changes to his MotoGP bike. Smith produced his best time of 1’56.428 on his 11th lap which left him only 0.067 behind his teammate. Having kicked off his MotoGP campaign today, the 23 year old optimistically awaits the other two free practice sessions tomorrow with a view of making additional steps forward and ascending up the grid.

Pol Espargaro (11th / 1'56.361 / 18 laps): “Today was not a bad start to the 2015 season as we were fast straight away. However, we used the same tyre for the whole session and I wasn’t able to improve as the practice came to an end. In addition, I made a small mistake at the beginning of the session where I went wide on the track. Beside that, it's logical that after the rain this week the track conditions would not have been ideal and it certainly gave an advantage to the riders who used a softer tyre towards the end of the session, so we lost several positions. Yet, I'm confident already that tomorrow there will be more grip on the track so the situation will change and we will be further up the grid.”

Bradley Smith (13th / 1'56.428 / 20 laps): “It’s good to get the first practice underway and be back riding again. The difference you feel when you are actually racing for real where it means something is amazing and you don’t get that sensation when testing. I think the track conditions today were a bit tricky and not ideal for the setting which we have in place at the moment. However, I know we will improve tomorrow when the grip level increases. My lap times were good and I actually rode a better time on the ideal laps, where I was more than three tenths faster than my final result which would have placed me well inside the top ten. We still need to work more with the rear of the Yamaha to make it easier for me to ride, as the bike is a bit nervous at the moment. In any case, it's nice to ride and just get a general feeling of the track as it's a quite tricky one and I'm already looking forward to the next two sessions tomorrow.”

Stefan Bradl fastest Open bike at Losail

Stefan Bradl ends the first day of practice sitting on top of the standings of the Open category while Loris Baz managed to stay inside the Top20 at the Losail circuit.

After struggling on this track last week during the winter test, Bradl had a strong session wearing the new team colours of the Athinà Forward Racing. The German, without using the soft tires, posted a personal best of 1.56.577, which earned him the 14th position, first among the Open bikes.

It was a productive day also for his teammate Loris Baz. The Frenchman, at his race premiere in the world championship, stopped the clock on the time of 1.57.031, just four tenths off his team-mate and close to the other open bikes.

Stefan Bradl (14th / 1'56.577 / 18 laps): “After a difficult test on this track it was important to make a good first practice session. I started well, I was able to be immediately fast and I set my best lap without using the soft compound. I focused immediately on the race pace, doing a lot of laps to find the best setup possible. I'm confident for tomorrow: I have kept the soft tire to try to improve the flying lap.”

Loris Baz (20th / 1'57.031 / 15 laps): “It’s been a good day. After many months of work it's time to get on track for the race. It was a positive session: the feeling was the same of last week and also the my pace on the long run is good. I was able to be immediately faster than before and I finished just four tenths short of the first Open bike. I am confident for my weekend debut in MotoGP.”

Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar - FP1

1. Marc Marquez (SPA), Repsol Honda Team, 1'55.281
2. Dani Pedrosa (SPA), Repsol Honda Team, 1'55.357
3. Aleix Espargaro (SPA), Team Suzuki Ecstar, 1'55.685
4. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA), Movistar Yamaha MotoGP, 1'55.698
5. Cal Crutchlow (GBR),CWM LCR Honda, 1'55.818
6. Danilo Petrucci (ITA), Pramac Racing, 1'55.939
7. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA), Ducati Team, 1'55.980
8. Yonny Hernandez, (COL), Pramac Racing, 1'56.139
9. Valentino Rossi (ITA), Movistar Yamaha MotoGP, 1'56.162
10 Andrea Iannone (ITA), Ducati Team, 1'56.315
11. Pol Espargaro (SPA), Monster Yamaha Tech3, 1'56.361

13. Bradley Smith (GBR), Monster Yamaha Tech3, 1'56.428
14. Stefan Bradl (GER), Athina Forward Racing, 1'56.577
20. Loris Baz (FRA), Athina Forward Racing, 1'57.031

Yamaha Racing

 

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About this article
Series MotoGP
Event Qatar GP
Sub-event Friday practice
Track Losail International Circuit
Drivers Valentino Rossi , Bradley Smith , Andrea Dovizioso , Jorge Lorenzo , Cal Crutchlow , Stefan Bradl , Aleix Espargaro , Dani Pedrosa , Marc Marquez , Yonny Hernandez , Danilo Petrucci , Loris Baz , Pol Espargaro , Andrea Iannone
Article type Practice report