Sparks fly: Dovizioso edges Petrucci and Rins
Stunning Friday action as one second splits the top 14 under the floodlights
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) started his Grand Prix of Qatar in the best possible way as the Italian ended Friday at the top of the timing screens, stunning his rivals with a lap time of 1.54.361 to put him just 0.006s ahead. It was the perfect test for race pace in the second session of 2018 for MotoGP™, as bikes take to the track at the same time as the lights will go out for the race to put track conditions to the most realistic test.
Fellow Ducati rider Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) completed the day as top independent rider in second position, as he set his time with three minutes remaining and only beaten by his compatriot. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) broke the Ducati dominance in P3, sitting 0.097s behind Dovizioso after a strong session and leading the way in the final ten minutes. Rins was also the first rider to break into the 1:54 bracket.
The most successful rider at the venue, Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team), secured fourth position overall around Losail, and his time of 1.54.831 was set following a busy start to his session as his Ducati caused sparks to fly on the home straight. Italian Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) wasn’t far behind his teammate Rins in fifth with a lap of 1.54.841, with reigning World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) ending the day in sixth position just 0.001 ahead of his teammate Dani Pedrosa.
Honda’s Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) sits in eighth as the second of the Independent team runners to go just ahead of ninth placed Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP), who was unable to blast in a fast lap at the end of the session. Frenchman and 2017 Rookie of the Year Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) rounds out the top ten on Friday in Qatar, with just half a second splitting the men provisionally into Q2 on Saturday. As yet, 2017 Qatar GP winner Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) is in eleventh on the combined timesheets.
The fastest rookie was Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), with the Japanese rider taking back that honour after impressing in testing but getting edged out in the #QatarTest.
Don’t miss a minute of the #QatarGP as the Championship builds up to the much-anticipated first race of the 2018 season. FP3 kicks off at 12.40 local time (GMT +3) ahead of the fight for pole at 19:20, with the lights going out for the race on Sunday at 19:00.
Positive start for two Ducati Team riders in the GP of Qatar at Losail: Andrea Dovizioso first and Jorge Lorenzo fourth after first day of practice
Andrea Dovizioso topped the timesheets at the end of the opening day of free practice action in the 2018 MotoGP World Championship, taking place at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar. The Ducati Team’s Italian rider, who finished the early afternoon FP1 session in the top slot, did the same in the evening’s FP2 with a time of 1’54.361, just a fraction ahead of Danilo Petrucci with the Desmosedici GP18 of the Pramac Racing Team.
Fourth place in today’s free practice standings went to Jorge Lorenzo, with a best time of 1’54.831. In the first session the Spanish rider had obtained the fifth quickest time.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 1° (1’54.361)
“Finishing both Friday sessions in first place in the opening GP of the season is always a great pleasure! Today we went really well but on this track I didn’t have many doubts. Now however we must continue to work hard, because we found conditions that were quite different to those of the tests, and it’s much warmer. We will now have to focus on managing tyre wear and on the small details that make all the difference in a 22-lap race. At any rate I’m very happy with the overall feeling with the Desmosedici GP18.”
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team #99) – 4° (1’54.831)
“All in all, as a first day of practice, things didn’t go badly and I’m quite satisfied because we managed to find a good pace. In the end I was missing an ‘explosive’ lap and for the moment Andrea and Danilo are quicker than me, but today my sensations were better than what I had during the tests. The aim for tomorrow is to work on some small changes on the bike that will allow me to improve even further, and I’m confident because my progress in any case has been positive.”
Grand Prix of Qatar
MotoGP 2018 Round 1
2018 MotoGP season gets underway in Qatar
The opening day of the Grand Prix of Qatar saw Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa wrapping up the Friday evening action at Losail International Circuit in sixth and seventh place respectively and split by 0.001”, both of them less than half of a second down on top.
This year’s revised schedule meant that MotoGP FP1 took place in the afternoon’s daylight, while FP2 was run completely at night. Temperature’s and conditions were therefore quite different between the two sessions, though generally quite warm, with 31°C air, 39°C ground and 24% of humidity in the afternoon, and 25°C air, 27°C ground and 51% of humidity in the evening.
“We are happy enough with how this first day in Qatar went in general. We had the first contact with the track and had the chance to see if we were getting the same feeling we had during the test. Actually the track has changed compared to the test and we now have to adapt the setup of the bike in order to make the tyres working well. Tomorrow we will see if we can get closer to the riders that are ahead of us who, at the moment, seems to have something more.”
“Conditions were a bit different from the test and consequently our feeling was different. Two weeks ago at the end of the three days the asphalt was in quite good conditions while today it was a bit dirty. At the beginning we were less comfortable but we improved over the day and that’s positive. We can see that our rivals are fast, but lap times are quite tight and there are many riders on almost the same time. We have to see tomorrow how conditions we’ll be.”
THE APRILIA RS-GP MACHINES DO WELL ON THEIR DÉBUT IN THE FIRST PRACTICE SESSIONS IN QATAR
ESPARGARÓ AND REDDING GET GOOD SENSATIONS IN VIEW OF TOMORROW’S DECISIVE SESSIONS
The engines have finally roared to life for the long-awaited 2018 MotoGP season. And among the many reasons for high interest in the new world championship is also Aprilia, called on to confirm the growth demonstrated in the final part of last season.
Aleix Espargaró and Scott Redding rode the fledgling 2018 RS-GP in the official opening sessions. Their sensations were clearly positive. Both of the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini riders improved significantly between the first and second Friday sessions. In FP2, Aleix even made an appearance in the top end of the standings, then continuing to work in view of the race, getting good sensations especially in the comparative tests between the different tyre solutions for Sunday. He finished with the 12th best time of 1’55.236, just 87 hundredths from the leader and 38 hundredths behind the top 6.
Redding made clear progress in the second session, although continuing to work, as advisable for him, on the settings, both for tomorrow’s sessions which will decide the starting order and with Sunday’s race in mind, finishing with a time of 1’55.718.
“I am very happy with the day. After a winter of ups and downs, the initial feedback here in Qatar was good. The evolution of the engine, which has not been revolutionised, proved to work well all around. It lets me ride with a style very close to my needs, whereas before I had to open up the throttle with the bike still very much leaned over. As for the race configuration, we are rather close to the leaders. We lost a few positions in the final attempt with a soft tyre. In the time attack, even pushing to the limit, we are still struggling to get as much out of the tyre compared to the other riders. We’ll work especially on this in the technical debriefing today, because even though our pace is promising, we still cannot sacrifice qualifying.”
“The sessions today once again confirmed how close the times are this year. It really takes very little to make a big difference. I am satisfied with our first day. The evolved engine works well, but overall I feel like we can still improve quite a bit. Compared to the tests, I have less feeling with the front, even testing different compounds, and I feel the dips on the track more, so much that I risked locking up the front a couple of times. If I can increase my confidence in braking, I’m sure that we can take a step forward.”
The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team were keen to begin their 2018 MotoGP World Championship challenge today. Valentino Rossi’s and Maverick Viñales’ main goal for the first two practice sessions was to set up their YZR-M1s for Sunday’s Grand Prix of Qatar. They secured 9th and 11th place respectively in the combined timesheets.
Rossi showed he meant business as FP1 got underway in the afternoon. Feeling comfortable right from the start, it wasn‘t long before he breached into the top-3. He kept up his competitive pace throughout the session and briefly topped the timesheets with a 1‘55.723s. He finished in second place, clocking a 1‘55.427s, just 0.061s from the top.
The lowering temperatures in the evening made it difficult for the riders to keep their rhythm in the second free practice session, but the Doctor was hungry for improvement. Riding under the floodlights, he put his head down and battled for a top ten position in the ranking order. His best time, a 1‘54.853s, earned him ninth place, 0.492s behind today’s leader.
Viñales had a busy afternoon session. When he took to the track it soon became clear that, with small margins separating the riders, he had no time to lose to fine-tune his Yamaha. He completed three runs to test various setting options and increased his speed at the very end. He ended FP1 in 11th position with a 1’56.130s lap, 0.764s from first.
The Spaniard pushed on in FP2 and made the 45 minutes count. He kept up with the pace, breaching into the 1‘55s-laps. He steadily improved his time, but the setting he tried in the afternoon didn‘t give him the same feeling in the cooler conditions. He ended the session in 11th place, posting a fastest lap of 1‘55.195s, 0.834s from the front.
Today‘s FP1 and FP2 results see Rossi and Viñales also take 9th and 11th position respectively in the combined results. Tomorrow they will be back on track from 14:35 – 15:20 local track time (GMT+3) for Free Practice 3, followed by Free Practice 4 from 18:40 – 19:10 and the qualifying sessions from 19:20 – 20:00.
“It’s great to be back in action, even though it was a bit of a challenging start to the season today. The grip level of the track wasn‘t perfect and under these circumstances we usually suffer. We expect that the circuit will provide a better grip session by session, which will help us exploit the strong points of our bike. Most of the problems that we‘re facing are caused by a lack of grip. The new schedule is a bit tricky, it has some up and downsides. The format has made FP1, FP3 and the Warm Up session somewhat useless, because the track conditions in the afternoon and evening sessions are quite different, and these aspects need to be carefully considered whilst making set-up changes. Even though we don‘t want to completely turn the bike upside down, we have some ideas that we will try tomorrow with both riders.” –Maio
The feeling during the day was quite positive because I feel good with the bike and also my pace is not so bad with the used tyres, that’s very important for the race. The level of performance is unbelievable, especially from fourth to tenth place – we’re very close. I didn’t ride in a perfect way and I lost some time during my lap, I made some small mistakes and I paid for them, because my position is not fantastic, I’m just ninth. It’s very important to stay in the top-10, because maybe tomorrow in FP3 it can be a little bit more difficult. We have to keep trying because I’m sure somebody will improve, and after that we’ll see. It’s always difficult with the front tyre, because we’re at the limit, so we need to make the right choice and we still have to work on the balance of the bike. I’m very happy to race at 7 o’ clock and not at 9, because the track is better. The only problem is that FP1, FP3 and Warm Up are not very important because you ride them in hotter conditions.
Honestly, I don’t feel like this is my best moment. As I said during the test, we’re having some trouble. I didn’t feel good on the bike, but we are working to solve the problems. We tried something different, which – with the hot temperatures – I was liking quite a lot, but this evening it wasn’t working. I did two time-attacks, but I wasn‘t feeling comfortable, so we have to continue tomorrow to find a better set-up.
Tech 3 Yamaha
Position: 10th – Time: 1’54.912 – Laps: 33
“For the first day in Qatar it is quite ok to be inside the top 10. I experienced some issues, which made it difficult to find the same great feeling like I had during the test here. I tried to keep calm and work. It’s just small details, because the balance of the bike is good, but to be as fast as the top guys, we need to understand better how the grip level is changing. We’re working on it and I know that we need to improve tomorrow to be competitive and ready for Q2.”
Position: 22nd – Time: 1’56.454 – Laps: 33
“In the first Free Practice, I had a lot of confidence and felt really comfortable on the bike. I’m not sure why my feeling was not as good as in FP1 in the second session. We used the soft tyre for the first time, but couldn’t improve a lot. In the end, we went one tenth of a second faster than in the first session. Now, we try to understand the situation, I know, that I have to stay calm and that I have to try to understand the telemetry, therefore I’ll speak with my guys tonight. Anyway, I’m very positive. For tomorrow, I aim to improve further.”
LCR Honda CASTROL rider Cal Crutchlow finished eighth fastest on the opening day of the Qatar Grand Prix as the 2018 MotoGP World Championship got underway at the Losail International Circuit today. The Briton headed into Friday’s free practice sessions in confident mood after a positive winter of testing on board his new factory Honda machinery.
The 32-year-old was on the pace all day and looked good after posting the seventh quickest time in FP1. However, he was unable to find his best rhythm in a typically frantic finish to FP2 and eventually had to settle for eighth spot. While not satisfied with his position, Crutchlow is hopeful of improving again on Saturday.
Cal Crutchlow – 8th
(1’54.852 – lap 15 of 16)
“The day was positive enough, although I’m not positive that we’re five tenths off at the moment. I felt we were strong all day, but on my last lap I did not have a great feeling with the bike at all, I was stronger at the start and the middle of the session. So to be eighth is disappointing, but at least we’re in the top ten because I think it will be harder to make a good lap time tomorrow.
“I had some important chattering and we are now investigating. On the whole we’re happy and positive as we have been for most of the winter tests – I’m not happy to be eighth because I think my pace is better than that, but tomorrow hopefully we’ll have a better day and go faster.”
Alma Pramac Racing starts the 2018 MotoGP season with a stunning Danilo Petrucci who ends up in second position the first day activity at the Losail International Circuit in Doha, Qatar. Jack Miller wasn’t able to make the most of the soft tyre on his fast lap and had to postpone his attack to Q2 to tomorrow’s FP3.
After the very encouraging results of Qatar testing, Petrux confirms to have a great feeling with the Ducati Desmosedici GP 2018 on the Losail Circuit. The Italian rider is already fast in the FP1s played under the sun of Qatar and in the FP2s lit by the energy of the 44 Pramac’s generators, he manage to do a stellar time attack, finishing in p2 just 6 thousandths of a second from Andrea Dovizioso.
Jack Miller can’t find the conditions to be able to win the Top 10. In the afternoon the Australian rider managed to lower his morning lap-time by 1 second and 3 tenths but in the final time attack of FP2 he could not find the ideal conditions to stay in the top 10. It’s very tight (14 drivers in 1 second) and in tomorrow’s FP3 the Australian rider will have the possibility to fight again for direct access to Q2.
2nd – Danilo Petrucci 1’54.367
“I am very pleased with what we have done today. We had some very good feelings during the tests and I am happy to have confirmed that feeling. The position is very good but it is clear that we have not yet done anything: we will have to fight tomorrow”.
14th – Jack Miller 1’55.360
“I am not happy with my position but I am positive because the pace is encouraging. We had some problems with this circuit during the last official tests and we are working to improve day by day. We are all very close so there is confidence for tomorrow”.