Thomas Luthi - Photo Credit: MotoGP.com

Thomas Luthi - Photo Credit: MotoGP.com

 

Thomas Luthi maintained his unbeaten record at the Qatar Grand Prix after dominating the third free practice session on Friday night. The Swiss rider hit the front with 15 minutes to go and was never toppled, cementing his status as favourite for pole position tomorrow.

Luthi's time from Thursday's second session went unbeaten until the final two minutes when the Suter rider set a 2:00.479. At the time, he was a full half-second clear of the rest of the field but Pol Espargaro used Scott Redding's slipstream to get within a tenth on his penultimate lap. The Spaniard led his teammate Esteve Rabat in third while Redding's late effort was good for fourth.

Claudio Corti completed a quartet of Kalex riders in fifth while Simone Corsi ended up the leading FTR in sixth. Andrea Iannone, so often anonymous in practice sessions, jumped up to seventh at the death while Bradley Smith beat championship favourite Marc Marquez to eighth.

Alex De Angelis completed the top ten for Forward Racing but a number of other big names found themselves in uncomfortable surroundings. Grand Prix winners Mika Kallio, Yuki Takahashi, Roberto Rolfo and Toni Elias were all outside the top 15 and all trailed behind class rookies Johann Zarco and Nicolas Terol in their first weekend since moving up from 125s.

Gino Rea's tough baptism continued as the Briton ended the night in 28th place while teammate Ratthapark Wilairot crashed his Gresini Moriwaki early on.