Jonas Folger set the fastest time in first practice ahead of the Qatar Moto3 Grand Prix as the new season got off to a low-key start at Losail. The German hit the front ten minutes from the end of the session before building up a lead which reached almost half a second over Alex Rins.
Conditions were far from ideal in the desert with sand lying on the circuit, making it immensely slippery for the riders who failed to stay on the racing line. Niccolo Antonelli and Efren Vazquez were among the riders to slide off the race track while attempting to overtake but thankfully only one person, Hyuga Watanabe, fell off their motorcycle altogether.
After two years in the doldrums, Mahindra got off to a lightning start with Vazquez and Miguel Oliveira moving into a dominant 1-2 by the halfway stage as the expected title contenders waited for conditions to improve. Vazquez had improved to a 2:09.594 before being usurped by Folger and the German would go on to break into the 2:08s bracket, the only rider to do so.
Like Folger, Rins is expected to be amongst the championship challengers this year and the Spaniard edged ahead of Vazquez to take second a couple of minutes from time while Luis Salom also left it late to grab third, half a second off the pace. As a result, Vazquez was demoted to fourth with Niccolo Antonelli an impressive fifth ahead of the second Mahindra of Miguel Oliveira.
Brad Binder took the Ambrogio Suter to seventh ahead of Jack Miller and Jasper Iwema, two more riders eying improved campaigns in 2013, while Maverick Vinales ghosted up to tenth on his first ride since severing a fingertip in pre-season testing. The two British riders both made solid starts with Danny Webb and John McPhee fifteenth and seventeenth respectively.