Aleix Espargaro extended his long-term lease at the top of the Free Practice timesheet Friday with fast lap of 1'54.773, a time that left him nearly half of a second clear of the field. The satellite bikes of Andrea Iannone (Ducati, 2nd) and Alvaro Bautista (Honda, 3rd) rounded out the top three during a qualifying session that saw both a brief sprinkle of rain and a five-time Qatar winner languishing until late.
Factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso finished the free practice as the top factory rider with a fourth-fastest time. Current world champion Marc Marquez continued his improving form with a fifth. Bradley Smith, who suffered a massive highside in the middle of the session, managed a sixth followed by the factory Yamaha of Jorge Lorenzo.
Lorenzo, a five-time winner here, lingered in 11th for much of the session until he made a strong run with three minutes remaining to put him into seventh place. Stefan Bradl, Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa completed the top ten and now can wait for the second qualifying practice and a chance at the pole position.
Although it does not look like much of a chance, given the gap at this point. Aleix Espargaro, on his open class Yamaha, is taking advantage of the extra fuel and soft tires to set blistering laps well ahead of the field. But the race is expected to be a different story as the soft option allowed for open class riders does not appear to be able to last an entire race. Espargaro's likely race pace -- he tested the harder race tire during the free practice -- is much more in line with the top seven riders.
|Pos.||No.||Rider||Bike||Time||Diff. / Prev.|
|1||41||Aleix ESPARGARO||Forward Yamaha||1'54.773|
|2||29||Andrea IANNONE||Ducati||1'55.186||0.413 / 0.413|
|3||19||Alvaro BAUTISTA||Honda||1'55.240||0.467 / 0.054|
|4||4||Andrea DOVIZIOSO||Ducati||1'55.250||0.477 / 0.010|
|5||93||Marc MARQUEZ||Honda||1'55.446||0.673 / 0.196|
|6||38||Bradley SMITH||Yamaha||1'55.474||0.701 / 0.028|
|7||99||Jorge LORENZO||Yamaha||1'55.495||0.722 / 0.021|
|8||6||Stefan BRADL||Honda||1'55.676||0.903 / 0.181|
|9||46||Valentino ROSSI||Yamaha||1'55.702||0.929 / 0.026|
|10||26||Dani PEDROSA||Honda||1'55.754||0.981 / 0.052|
|11||44||Pol ESPARGARO||Yamaha||1'55.793||1.020 / 0.039|
|12||35||Cal CRUTCHLOW||Ducati||1'56.013||1.240 / 0.220|
|13||69||Nicky HAYDEN||Honda||1'56.357||1.584 / 0.344|
|14||5||Colin EDWARDS||Forward Yamaha||1'56.373||1.600 / 0.016|
|15||68||Yonny HERNANDEZ||Ducati||1'56.633||1.860 / 0.260|
|16||7||Hiroshi AOYAMA||Honda||1'56.939||2.166 / 0.306|
|17||45||Scott REDDING||Honda||1'56.997||2.224 / 0.058|
|18||17||Karel ABRAHAM||Honda||1'57.345||2.572 / 0.348|
|19||23||Broc PARKES||PBM||1'57.665||2.892 / 0.320|
|20||63||Mike DI MEGLIO||Avintia||1'58.204||3.431 / 0.539|
|21||8||Hector BARBERA||Avintia||1'58.219||3.446 / 0.015|
|22||70||Michael LAVERTY||PBM||1'58.378||3.605 / 0.159|
|23||9||Danilo PETRUCCI||ART||1'58.651||3.878 / 0.273|