Qatar MotoGP: Morbidelli tops FP1 as Miller crashes

Petronas SRT’s Franco Morbidelli led Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro in the opening MotoGP practice of 2021 at the Qatar Grand Prix, as pre-race favourite Jack Miller on the Ducati crashed.

Qatar MotoGP: Morbidelli tops FP1 as Miller crashes

Miller picked up where he left off testing by topping the early part of FP1 with a 1m56.160s, while fellow Ducati rider Johann Zarco became the first crasher of the 2021 season when he slid off his Pramac GP21 at Turn 4.

Turn 4 would catch out Miller with 23 minutes of the session remaining, the Australian having a similar crash to Zarco in losing the front-end under braking for the right-hander.

Top spot changed hands a number of times across the early part of the session as the riders cleared the desert dust from the Losail track, Honda’s Pol Espargaro trading first place with his Aprilia-mounted brother Aleix, Yamaha duo Fabio Quartararo and Maverick Vinales, and Francesco Bagnaia on the works team Ducati.

Morbidelli took over top spot with a 1m55.266s with just under 15 minutes of the session gone, before improving that to a 1m55.092s around 15 minutes later.

The SRT rider’s time finally fell in the dying stages when Espargaro powered his Aprilia to a 1m55.046s.

But this was to be short-lived, as Morbidelli produced the first sub 1m55s lap of the weekend on his ‘A-spec’ Yamaha with a 1m54.921s.

Espargaro shadowed him by 0.125 seconds, with Miller completing the top three having regrouped from his earlier spill.

Quartararo fired in a late 1m55.213s to end his first session as a factory team Yamaha rider fourth ahead of reigning world champion Joan Mir, who leaped up to fifth at the end on his Suzuki.

These improvements shuffled Vinales – who is without his crew chief until at least Sunday following a reactive COVID test - back to sixth ahead of the Suzuki of Alex Rins, while Bagnaia ended FP1 eighth.

Valentino Rossi was just 0.498s off the pace in ninth at the end of his first official race weekend session as a Petronas SRT rider, while KTM’s Miguel Oliveira rounded out the top 10.

LCR’s Alex Marquez – who is also without his crew chief to start the weekend – headed his teammate Takaaki Nakagami in 11th, while Zarco recovered to 13th after his crash.

Pol Espargaro fell from his factory Honda at Turn 6 midway through the session, ending the first session 15th behind temporary teammate Stefan Bradl.

Enea Bastianini was the only other faller in the session, the Avintia rookie and reigning Moto2 world champion sliding off on the fast approach to Turn 1.

He walked away unscathed and ended the afternoon 18th behind fellow rookie and teammate Luca Marini. 

Cla   Nº   Rider   Bike   Time   Delay 
21  Franco Morbidelli Yamaha 1'54.921  
41  Aleix Espargaró Aprilia 1'55.046 0.125
43  Jack Miller Ducati 1'55.112 0.191
20  Fabio Quartararo Yamaha 1'55.213 0.292
36  Joan Mir Suzuki 1'55.255 0.334
12  Maverick Viñales Yamaha 1'55.309 0.388
42  Alex Rins Suzuki 1'55.353 0.432
63  F.Bagnaia Ducati 1'55.365 0.444
46  Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1'55.419 0.498
10  88  Miguel Oliveira KTM 1'55.745 0.824
11  73  Álex Márquez Honda 1'55.748 0.827
12  30  Takaaki Nakagami Honda 1'55.754 0.833
13  Johann Zarco Ducati 1'55.871 0.950
14  Stefan Bradl Honda 1'55.942 1.021
15  44  Pol Espargaró Honda 1'56.046 1.125
16  33  Brad Binder KTM 1'56.057 1.136
17  10  Luca Marini Ducati 1'56.069 1.148
18  23  Enea Bastianini Ducati 1'56.191 1.270
19  Danilo Petrucci KTM 1'56.230 1.309
20  89  Jorge Martín Ducati 1'56.541 1.620
21  32  Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia 1'56.559 1.638
22  27  Iker Lecuona KTM 1'56.943 2.022

 

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