Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto2 class at Losail:
Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto3 class at Losail:
If the warm windy conditions brought lukewarm action for Moto3 and Moto2, the premier class had some sparks from the off but not the kind that the world champion team would have enjoyed much. Jorge Lorenzo managed to enjoy about five minutes of the session before taking a big tumble on cold rubber in turn six. The Spaniard walked away but as thoughts of Clinica Mobile crossed his mind, Repsol Honda’s afternoon got worse as teammate Marc Marquez seemed to get caught out by feisty wind in turn 14.
Another outing in the desert sun for the intermediate class and a chance to shine for KTM. Moto3 reigning champion Jorge Martin topped his first session after he stole it in the final five minutes from FP1 leader Marcel Schrotter. The duo finished within half a tenth of each other but a second slower than Lorenzo Baldassarri’s best time from Friday evening. Brad Binder looked on course to top the session on his final lap and add to KTM’s jubilation but crashed in final corner and had to settle for eighth.
Another windy morning for the lightweight crowd and with not much payoff as far as qualifying was concerned. Much hotter conditions than FP2 predictably meant that the top 14 for Q2 was settled last night and there was not that much to learn for the race in these much different conditions, which left the minor laurels of headlining FP3 on the table.
And so hope and expectation meet reality. On Friday, we could stop fantasizing about just how good this season might be, and see for ourselves just how close the field is in the premier class. Well, how close it is outside Marc Márquez' insane record-crushing lap in FP2, made following Maverick Viñales around and using him as a target. It may only be Friday, but Márquez beat Johann Zarco's pole-setting lap record from last year by three tenths of a second. And they will only be going faster again tomorrow.
Any concerns that Marc Márquez might ease himself back into MotoGP, nursing the shoulder he had operated on last year until it was back at 100%, were laid to rest. "No, I ride full attack. I am riding full attack, I am pushing," Márquez said.
Viñales, who knew that Márquez had been following him when he made his fastest time, joked about it being a magnanimous gesture towards a weakened rival. "Yeah, I knew he was there, but I know he is injured, so I tried to help him a little bit... " the Monster Energy Yamaha rider joked. "Maybe I helped him too much! But it was important to see where our competitors are, so at the moment, we have to put the head down and work, work, work. They are ahead at the moment, some tenths ahead, so we need to keep working really hard."
From development to practice
The final outing of the day started off with a slight delay due to Moto2 debris and ended with Marc Marquez breaking the all time lap record around the Losail circuit by three tenths of a second. The world champion saw a missed opportunity in FP1 (and throughout winter testing) and got straight down to business with a handful of laps in the high 1:54s. It was enough to keep him on top after the first run, although the Ducati tag team were a looming threat right behind the Spaniard, both on track and on the timesheets.
As night fell over the Losail circuit, the intermediate class came out to play and a handful of riders shared the spoils throughout the second session of the day. Sam Lowes was the early leader, after sorting out the technical gremlins that robbed him of a shot at a fast time in the afternoon session. The final ten minutes of FP2 brought on a time attack for privileged positions with an eye on qualifying, which dethroned the Gresini rider and eventually crowned Lorenzo Baldassarri as the fastest man of the day.
The familiar night lights of Losail kicked off the second session of the day for the lightweight class but the change in conditions brought many of the same names to the fore. Aron Canet’s own change of scenery to Max Biaggi’s squad seems to have benefited the young Spaniard, who set up at the top of the standings halfway through the session and the seven tenths of a second gap proved a hurdle too high for his rivals.
And new season, same old show-offs at the top. Reigning champion Marc Marquez was keen to demonstrate that he’s still the man to beat despite his lengthy recovery from his now notorious shoulder surgery. The Spaniard set camp at the top of the timesheets early on and showed consistent pace in the low 1:55s, although times were not all that relevant due to the drastically different conditions to race time. Regardless of such practicalities, the final couple of minutes turned into a fierce battle for FP1 supremacy.