Espargaro Leads Qatar Opener For Forward Racing


Aleix Espargaro made another statement of intent for the open-class Forward Racing team by setting the pace in first practice ahead of the Qatar Grand Prix. The Spaniard put the field on notice by going fastest at the Losail pre-season test and carried that form into FP1 with a lap four tenths quicker than anybody else.

The session seemed to favour those who tested in Qatar earlier this month with the full factory teams not enjoying their usual advantage. Instead, it was the Pramac Ducati of Andrea Iannone that led early on but the team’s joy was short lived as Yonny Hernandez crashed his GP14 at the final corner. The session was temporarily halted as gravel was swept off the circuit and the Colombian has been taken to the medical centre for x-rays on a shoulder injury.

The elder Espargaro had snuck in the fastest time just before the red flags flew but when running resumed, Bradley Smith came to the fore with a 1:55.816. The Briton wasn’t at the top of the leaderboard for long as Alvaro Bautista took over despite being held up by Danilo Petrucci but the final word went to Aleix Espargaro as the Forward rider unleashed back-to-back hot laps, both quicker than anyone else could manage.

Bautista and Smith completed the top three ahead of Andrea Iannone while reigning Moto2 champion Pol Espargaro made a solid start in fifth. Dani Pedrosa was the first of the recognised frontrunners in sixth ahead of Valentino Rossi while Colin Edwards took the second Forward Yamaha to eighth, outpacing Jorge Lorenzo’s factory machine.

The final top ten place, which will secure an automatic passage to Q2 once FP3 has been completed, went to Nicky Hayden while defending champion Marc Marquez set the eleventh quickest time on his first ride since breaking his leg in pre-season training.

 

 2014 COMMERCIAL BANK GRAND PRIX OF QATAR – FREE PRACTICE 1 RESULT
POS RIDER MOTORCYCLE TEAM TIME
1  ALEIX ESPARGARO FORWARD YAMAHA NGM FORWARD RACING 1:55.201
2  ALVARO BAUTISTA HONDA GO&FUN HONDA GRESINI 1:55.667
3  BRADLEY SMITH YAMAHA MONSTER YAMAHA TECH 3 1:55.816
4  ANDREA IANNONE DUCATI PRAMAC RACING 1:55.996
5  POL ESPARGARO YAMAHA MONSTER YAMAHA TECH 3 1:56.020
6  DANI PEDROSA HONDA REPSOL HONDA TEAM 1:56.332
7  VALENTINO ROSSI YAMAHA MOVISTAR YAMAHA MOTOGP 1:56.542
8  COLIN EDWARDS FORWARD YAHAMA NGM FORWARD RACING 1:56.626
9  JORGE LORENZO YAMAHA MOVISTAR YAMAHA MOTOGP 1:56.668
10  NICKY HAYDEN HONDA DRIVE M7 ASPAR 1:56.670
11  MARC MARQUEZ HONDA REPSOL HONDA TEAM 1:56.682
12  STEFAN BRADL HONDA LCR HONDA MOTOGP 1:56.726
13  CAL CRUTCHLOW DUCATI DUCATI TEAM 1:57.046
14  ANDREA DOVIZIOSO DUCATI DUCATI TEAM 1:57.100
15  YONNY HERNANDEZ DUCATI ENERGY T.I. PRAMAC RACING 1:57.623
16  KAREL ABRAHAM HONDA CARDION AB MOTORACING 1:57.779
17  HIROSHI AOYAMA HONDA DRIVE M7 ASPAR 1:58.182
18  HECTOR BARBERA FTR KAWASAKI AVINTIA BLUSENS 1:58.394
19  SCOTT REDDING HONDA GO&FUN HONDA GRESINI 1:58.495
20  MIKE DI MEGLIO FTR KAWASAKI AVINTIA BLUSENS 1:58.732
21  DANILO PETRUCCI ART IODARACING PROJECT 1:59.321
22  BROC PARKES PBM PAUL BIRD MOTORSPORT 1:59.328
23  MICHAEL LAVERTY PBM PAUL BIRD MOTORSPORT NO TIME
TOP TEN AFTER FP3 ADVANCE TO QUALIFYING 2