PHOTOGRAPHY BY GOLD & GOOSE
On day two of practice for the MotoGP season opener at Qatar it was more of the same – NGM Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro is still the fastest. And while there’s still a race ahead, it has to be getting a bit worrying to the factory Yamaha and Honda teams a bit because so far the Open class and satellite-team bikes are showing them up.
Of the four ‘old school’ factory guys, Respol Honda’s Marc Marquez was the fastest in fifth. A very frustrated Jorge Lorenzo was at least able to improve his time on the Movistar Yamaha from 11th to seventh in the last five minutes of the session; and Marquez’ teammate Dani Pedrosa followed Lorenzo in eighth and was the only rider in the top 10 not to improve his time in FP3. And the other man on the factory Yamaha, nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi, barely squeaked into the top 10 by just .026 of a second.
The softer tire compound allowed and the additional testing time that the factory teams missed out on have proven to be an advantage that even the formerly dubbed ‘aliens’ are having some difficulty overcoming thus far.
In the second spot is Pramac Ducati’s Andrea Iannone, who also set his best time within the last five minutes of the session. Behind him was Go&Fun Gresini Honda’s Alvaro Bautista, who has been consistent so far and the fastest on the medium compound tire that is the softest option available to the non-Open class bikes.
Ducati’s Andrea Dovisioso, meanwhile, dropped from second to fourth. His teammate Cal Crutchlow struggled a bit and ultimately finished 12th after crashing in turn 10 with 14 minutes left of the session.
Bradley Smith also had a nasty crash on the exit of turn five a little over halfway through the session. He was unhurt and able to jump on his other Tech 3 Yamaha bike to improve his time and finish sixth.
LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl finished ahead of Rossi in ninth and Americans Colin Edwards and Nicky Hayden finished 13th and 14th, respectively.
There were a few bits of water halfway through the session, but it didn’t stop most of the field from improving their times.
2014 Qatar MotoGP FP3
1. Aleix Espargaro (Yamaha) 1:54.773
2. Andrea Iannone (Ducati) 1:55.186
3. Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1:55.240
4. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 1:55.250
5. Marc Marquez (Honda) 1:55.446
6. Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 1:55.474
7. Jorge Lorenzo (Yamaha) 1:55.495
8. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:55.562
9. Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1:55.676
10. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:55.702
13. Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:56.238
14. Nicky Hayden (Honda) 1:56.357