2018 Qatar MotoGP Saturday Round Up: A Record Falls, A Horde Announce Thenselves

It took ten years and nine days, but the last of the pole records set on qualifying tires has finally been beaten. And not just once, but three times. On their final laps in the Q2 session of qualifying, three riders streaked across the line and dived under Jorge Lorenzo's now ancient pole record at Qatar set in 2008. History was made, and the final specter of the 800 era was cast out from the all-new, utterly rejuvenated MotoGP class. The slate has been wiped clean.

That Lorenzo's record stood for so long and that it was broken at all are both remarkable feats. The old qualifying record was set in Lorenzo's very first MotoGP qualifying session – though in 2008, the system was a little easier for the riders, one hour of qualifying with a generous supply of both race and qualifying tires. In the midst of the tire wars, the Michelin (and Bridgestone) qualifiers were worth well over a second a lap, and sometimes two. Lorenzo's pole lap smashed the previous record by 1.075 seconds. But that pole position, taken on his MotoGP debut, was Jorge Lorenzo serving notice that he was something a little bit special.

It took a special rider to dispatch Lorenzo's lap to the dustbin of history. Johann Zarco had been struggling during the first weekend of his second year in MotoGP, trying but failing to make an impression on the timesheets. He was clearly suffering from the pressure of the expectations placed upon him. Being linked to factory rides, being tipped for the championship before he has even won his first race. He faltered during practice, but with fresh rubber and a light bike he found his feet and dismantled Jorge Lorenzo's record along the way.

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2018 Qatar MotoGP FP4 Result: Ducati Dominates With Dovi and Danilo

More of the same sandy and windy treatment for the premier class on their last opportunity to confirm their race preparedness. Danilo Petrucci did exactly that and reinforced his position as a contender for the win in Qatar by shooting to the top of the timing tower as soon as the session started. The Pramac rider looked certain to keep the lead until his factory colleague Andrea Dovizioso fired in a low 1:55 on used tyres to steal the spotlight on a medium front and a soft rear tyre.

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2018 Qatar MotoGP FP3 Result: Sun Shines on Zarco

Hot, windy, dusty – add the adjective of your choice to denote how unhelpful the conditions were to prepare for a race taking place much later in the day. With over 40 degrees track temperature it was always unlikely to get a shot at improving position on the combined standings with Q1 in sight so not much constructive work seemed to be done throughout the session.

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2018 Qatar Moto2 FP3 Result: Marquez Mugs Baldassarri

Hot tarmac and wind was the order of the day for the intermediate class, raising no expectations of improving on Friday’s times or learning much for the race. Nonetheless, they chased each other around for 45 minutes and fought for vaguely relevant supremacy.

Alex Marquez was living up to the surname by offering us noteworthy replays and running off track in every session he took part in this weekend. The Spaniard got it together in the very last minute to dip into the 2:01s and go two tenths faster than the opposition.

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2018 Qatar Moto3 FP3 Result: Canet Steals One From Martin

It was another hot start to the day in Qatar for the lightweight class and it was the usual names making their mark on the timesheets. Philipp Oettl was the first man/boy to cut the sizeable early lead in the final five minutes of the session, when action finally started to heat up. Soon after it was Aron Canet’s time to steal the show and the Spaniard kept top position on the timing sheets to the flag. The Estrella Galicia rider dipped into the 2:07s but with the sweltering conditions it was to be expected that the times would not come tumbling towards the best of FP2, ending up a tenth slower than FP1 – a session which took place in similar conditions.

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