NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro continued his 2014 pre-season testing ritual of turning heads today at the Losail Circuit in Qatar, the Spaniard leading the way on the first day of MotoGP testing at the facility that will host the first race of the season in two weeks.

Granted, the big four of Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa and MoviStar Yamaha’s Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi weren’t there (ditto for the factory Ducati team of Cal Crutchlow and Andreas Dovizioso), but Espargaro’s lap times were impressive nonetheless on his “Open” class Yamaha M1. Espargaro’s best lap was a 1:55.386 on his 38th of 43 laps at the test that was run mostly under the lights – less than a second off Lorenzo’s lap record.

The lap also put him .253 of a second clear of Bradley Smith, the Brit ending up second and .43 of a second ahead of his teammate Pol Espargaro, the younger brother of Aleix and the non-defending Moto2 World Champion. Smith and the Espargaro lapped at 1:55.639 and 1:56.072, respectively.

Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl ended the first day with identical lap times – 1:56.081 - on the Go & Fun Gresini and LCR Hondas. Andrea Iannone on the Pramc Honda was sixth, 1.3 seconds off the best lap.

Then came the first of the Americans – Colin Edwards on the second NGM Mobile Forward Racing Yamaha. Edwards lapped at 1:56.961 – 1.575 behind his teammate Espargaro.

Yonny Hernandez was next on the Pramac Ducati with Drive M7 Aspar Honda’s Nicky Hayden ninth and just over two seconds off Espargaro’s best.

Losail International Circuit

MotoGP Test Day 1

1.              Aleix Espargaro (Yamaha) 1:55.386

2.              Bradley Smith (Yamaha) 1:56.639

3.              Pol Espargaro (Yamaha) 1:56.072

4.              Alvaro Bautista (Honda) 1:56.081

5.              Stefan Bradl (Honda) 1:56.081

6.              Andrea Iannone (Ducati) 1:56.780

7.              Colin Edwards (Yamaha) 1:56.961

8.              Yonny Hernandez (Ducati) 1:57.318

9.              Nicky Hayden (Honda) 1:57.574

10.           Scott Redding (Honda) 1:57.574

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