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Practice report
MotoGP Qatar GP

MotoGP Qatar GP: Martin tops Zarco in first practice, Bagnaia third

Jorge Martin led a Pramac 1-2 in first practice for the MotoGP Qatar Grand Prix, as championship leader Francesco Bagnaia completed the top three.

Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing

MotoGP’s return to Qatar for 2023 has come later in the year than normal, after the event was shifted from its traditional season-opener slot due to major track works.

As such, lap times at the end of a largely unrepresentative FP1 were some four seconds off the outright record of 1m52.772s set in 2021 by Bagnaia.

With just 14 points splitting Bagnaia and Martin in the standings, this weekend offers the latter a chance to wrap up the world championship if he can score 23 more points than his rival.

Martin drew first blood at Losail, topping FP1 by 0.172 seconds from Pramac team-mate Johann Zarco, as Bagnaia completed the top three – 0.229s off the pace.

RNF Aprilia’s Raul Fernandez was fourth and set the early pace at the start of the 45-minute session, posting a gentle 1m59.140s as the riders got to work cleaning up the new asphalt.

Martin took his first trip to the top of the order with just over seven minutes into the session, the Pramac rider going fastest with a 1m58.626s.

He would improve to a 1m58.235s on his next tour, before Gresini’s Fabio Di Giannantonio – who faces an uncertain future as the factory Honda seat for 2024 now looks unlikely to go his way – went slightly quicker with a 1m58.019s.

This was short-lived, as Malaysian GP winner – and last year’s Qatar victor – Enea Bastianini took over top spot with a 1m57.982s, before factory Ducati team-mate Bagnaia edged ahead with a 1m57.936s with half an hour to go.

This stood as the benchmark for the next 15 minutes until Di Giannantonio went on a run that culminated in a 1m56.830s.

With just under six minutes to go, Martin fired in a 1m56.393s on a fresh medium rear tyre, which would see him to the chequered flag as the pacesetter of FP1.

Zarco put in a 1m56.565s to complete a Pramac 1-2, while Bagnaia set his 1m56.622s on the harder rear tyre.

Behind fourth-placed Fernandez came Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli and VR46 Ducati’s Luca Marini, who told media on Thursday that there had been no movement on his potential switch to Honda next year.

Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro was seventh despite a crash at Turn 14 early on, with Di Giannantonio, Tech3’s Pol Espargaro and KTM’s Brad Binder rounding out the top 10.

There was an odd moment between Pol Espargaro and VR46’s Marco Bezzecchi at the end of the session during the practice starts.

The pair got close on track at the last and first corner after the chequered flag, before Bezzecchi repeatedly nudged Espargaro’s rear tyre in the practice start zone.

Bezzecchi ended the session 18th behind Bastianini and last week’s sprint winner Alex Marquez, who crashed at Turn 4.

Fabio Quartararo was 11th on his Yamaha ahead of Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales and KTM’s Jack Miller, who tested a new rear wing on his RC16.

Tech3’s Augusto Fernandez was the only other crasher in the session and was 14th, while top Honda honours went to Joan Mir in 19th as all RC213V riders slotted in behind him.

MotoGP Qatar GP - FP1 results:

 
 
         
Driver Info
 
 
 
   
Cla Rider # Bike Laps Time Interval km/h Speed Trap
1 Spain J. Martin Pramac Racing 89 Ducati 17

1'56.393

  166.401  
2 France J. Zarco Pramac Racing 5 Ducati 15

+0.172

1'56.565

0.172 166.156  
3 Italy F. Bagnaia Ducati Team 1 Ducati 17

+0.229

1'56.622

0.057 166.075  
4 Spain R. Fernández RNF Racing 25 Aprilia 16

+0.292

1'56.685

0.063 165.985  
5 Italy F. Morbidelli Yamaha Factory Racing 21 Yamaha 17

+0.411

1'56.804

0.119 165.816  
6 Italy L. Marini Team VR46 10 Ducati 14

+0.426

1'56.819

0.015 165.794  
7 Spain A. Espargaro Aprilia Racing Team 41 Aprilia 14

+0.427

1'56.820

0.001 165.793  
8 Italy F. Di Giannantonio Gresini Racing 49 Ducati 16

+0.437

1'56.830

0.010 165.779  
9 Spain P. Espargaro Tech 3 44 KTM 16

+0.492

1'56.885

0.055 165.701  
10 South Africa B. Binder Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 33 KTM 18

+0.501

1'56.894

0.009 165.688  
11 France F. Quartararo Yamaha Factory Racing 20 Yamaha 17

+0.568

1'56.961

0.067 165.593  
12 Spain M. Viñales Aprilia Racing Team 12 Aprilia 13

+0.582

1'56.975

0.014 165.573  
13 Australia J. Miller Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 43 KTM 18

+0.667

1'57.060

0.085 165.453  
14 Spain A. Fernandez Tech 3 37 KTM 12

+0.703

1'57.096

0.036 165.402  
15 Portugal M. Oliveira RNF Racing 88 Aprilia 19

+1.213

1'57.606

0.510 164.685  
16 Spain A. Marquez Gresini Racing 73 Ducati 13

+1.442

1'57.835

0.229 164.365  
17 Italy E. Bastianini Ducati Team 23 Ducati 16

+1.589

1'57.982

0.147 164.160  
18 Italy M. Bezzecchi Team VR46 72 Ducati 16

+1.678

1'58.071

0.089 164.036  
19 Spain J. Mir Repsol Honda Team 36 Honda 15

+1.784

1'58.177

0.106 163.889  
20 Spain M. Marquez Repsol Honda Team 93 Honda 17

+1.800

1'58.193

0.016 163.867  
21 Spain I. Lecuona Team LCR 27 Honda 18

+1.951

1'58.344

0.151 163.658  
22 Japan T. Nakagami Team LCR 30 Honda 13

+4.036

2'00.429

2.085 160.825  

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