Jorge Lorenzo led a Movistar Yamaha 1-2 in first practice ahead of the Qatar Grand Prix as the new MotoGP season burst into life at Losail. The reigning champion led teammate and likely title rival Valentino Rossi by a quarter of a second but with just 0.772s covering the top ten, the new regulations appear to have closed the field up.
Lorenzo was quickest throughout the session with his opening run culminating in a 1:55.693, placing him an ominous six tenths clear of nearest challenger Marc Marquez. As conditions improved though, the field closed in on the no.99 with a trio of Ducatis circulating together, towing themselves up the order. Andrea Iannone was the quickest of the three, climbing to second on a 1:55.736, while Hector Barbera profited from the slipstream to take third.
Times continued to tumble in the closing minutes but unfortunately for British fans, Bradley Smith did likewise, losing the front of his Tech 3 Yamaha at turn 13. Rossi avoided such pitfalls to snatch second from Iannone on a 1:55.707, shadowing the Suzuki of Maverick Vinales as he did so, while the young Spaniard leapt up to fifth behind the Avintia Ducati of Barbera.
Pol Espargaro took sixth on the other satellite Yamaha with the leading Repsol Honda of Dani Pedrosa languishing down in seventh, one spot ahead of Marc Marquez who failed to improve on his opening run. Andrea Dovizioso was ninth fastest on the second factory Ducati while Scott Redding completed the top ten, demoting the fallen Smith to eleventh.
2016 COMMERCIAL BANK GRAND PRIX OF QATAR (FP1 CLASSIFICATION)
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