File Photography By Gold & Goose
The first MotoGP practice session of the season saw a little bit of what every one has been waiting for during the off-season: Valentino Rossi at the top of the timesheets, Cal Crutchlow also taking a turn at the top, rookie phenom Marc Marquez showing well, and a Ducati in the top five. But when all was said and done, it was defending World Champion Jorge Lorenzo showing that he’s still boss with his two best laps coming in the final laps of the 45-minute session at the Losail Circuit in Qatar.
Lorenzo did his best lap on his last lap, the 1:56.685 besting his previous best of 1:56.736 with the two fast ones coming at the very end of what was a windy session in Qatar. Lorenzo has the fastest ever lap of Losail, the Spaniard turning a 1:53.927 during qualifying in 2011; the best race lap is held by Casey Stoner, the retired Aussie lapping at a best of 1:55.153 in 2008.
Lorenzo’s best today bumped Monster Energy Tech 3 Yamaha’s Crutchlow from the top spot, the Brit settling for second – just .058 of a second.
“It’s a very good way to start the season, on top.” Lorenzo said. “To have three Yamahas in the first three positions like in Jerez means this track can be positive for us. We need to improve though because the other guys will come in the next practice. We’ll make the step little by little by riding, improving the bike and also the track will improve. Today we tried both bikes and tomorrow we will try the new chassis here.”
Crutchlow had taken his spot at the head of the timesheets with some five minutes to go in the session, bumping Rossi from the spot that he held off and on throughout the session. Rossi, in his return to Yamaha, posted the third fastest time of the opening session – his 1:56.756 just .071 of a second slower than his teammate Lorenzo as Yamahas took the top three spots.
The first non-Yamaha was the Respol Honda of rookie Marquez. The young Spaniard looked a little ragged at times, but was fast throughout and he was just a tick over half a second slower than Lorenzo at the end of the session.
Somewhat of a surprise was the fact that a factory Ducati was fifth in the session with new recruit Andrea Dovizioso within a second of Lorenzo with his 1:57.538. Dovizioso was as high as third at one point in the session.
Go & Fun Honda’s Alvaro Bautista ended the session in sixth, just ahead of fellow satellite Honda rider Stefan Bradl on the LCR Honda.
Then came Dani Pedrosa, the Repsol Honda rider struggling to eighth in the first session of the new season. Pedrosa’s best was 1.158 slower than Lorenzo’s best.
Power Electronics Aspar’s Aleix Espargaro was ninth fastest – one spot better than Nicky Hayden on the second factory Ducati with Hayden rounding out the top 10.
Fellow Americans Ben Spies and Colin Edwards ended the session in 13th and 17th, respectively.
MotoGP Free Practice 1
1. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:56.685
2. Cal Crutchlow (Yamaha) 1:56.743
3. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:56.756
4. Marc Marquez (Honda) 1:57.276
5. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 1:57.538
6. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1:57.601
7. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1:57.670
8. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:57.749
9. Aleix Espargaro (ART) 1:57.843
10. Nicky Hayden (Ducati) 1:57.926