2016 Qatar MotoGP FP1 Result: Lorenzo Dominates, Rossi Leads Ducati Chase

Jorge Lorenzo has taken his pace from testing into the first full event of the season. The reigning world champion topped the timesheets early, and by the halfway mark had set a pace few could follow during his first long run. In the second half of the session, he dropped his time even further, stretching out his advantage to over a quarter of a second.

Valentino Rossi ended the session in second, the Movistar Yamaha rider chasing his teammate hard. Rossi sat in a group of riders including Maverick Viñales and Hector Barbera, lapping at speed and pushing for a fast lap at the end of the session. Rossi ended the session just ahead of the factory Ducati of Andrea Iannone, who was in turn just quicker than Hector Barbera. Barbera's pace on the Avintia Ducati GP14.2 was impressive, using Rossi as a target but never truly getting a tow from the nine-time world champion. 

Rossi had done the same to Maverick Viñales, the Suzuki rider leading the group. Viñales pace was very solid, ending the session in fifth after a quick lap at the end of testing. The gap from Rossi in second to Viñales in fifth is small, just 0.14 seconds.

Pol Espargaro was the first of the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha bikes, after Bradley Smith had a crash at the end of the session. Espargaro just pipped Dani Pedrosa to sixth, the Repsol Honda man the first rider on an RC213V. Pedrosa was over a tenth quicker than his teammate Marc Marquez, who had been closer to the top of the timesheets earlier in the session. 

A pair of Ducatis round out the top ten, with Andrea Dovizioso on the factory bike leading the Pramac Ducati of Scott Redding. The entire top ten were covered by less than a second.

That was the last session of practice for MotoGP on Thursday. Tomorrow, they will have two more free practice sessions, before qualifying on Saturday.

Results:

Pos No. Rider Bike Time Diff Diff Previous
1 99 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1'55.440    
2 46 Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1'55.707 0.267 0.267
3 29 Andrea Iannone Ducati 1'55.736 0.296 0.029
4 8 Hector Barbera Ducati 1'55.810 0.370 0.074
5 25 Maverick Viñales Suzuki 1'55.847 0.407 0.037
6 44 Pol Espargaro Yamaha 1'56.051 0.611 0.204
7 26 Dani Pedrosa Honda 1'56.098 0.658 0.047
8 93 Marc Marquez Honda 1'56.258 0.818 0.160
9 4 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 1'56.387 0.947 0.129
10 45 Scott Redding Ducati 1'56.412 0.972 0.025
11 38 Bradley Smith Yamaha 1'56.524 1.084 0.112
12 35 Cal Crutchlow Honda 1'56.596 1.156 0.072
13 76 Loris Baz Ducati 1'56.783 1.343 0.187
14 43 Jack Miller Honda 1'56.939 1.499 0.156
15 9 Danilo Petrucci Ducati 1'56.981 1.541 0.042
16 41 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki 1'57.096 1.656 0.115
17 19 Alvaro Bautista Aprilia 1'57.129 1.689 0.033
18 68 Yonny Hernandez Ducati 1'57.192 1.752 0.063
19 50 Eugene Laverty Ducati 1'57.421 1.981 0.229
20 53 Tito Rabat Honda 1'57.916 2.476 0.495
21 6 Stefan Bradl Aprilia 1'57.989 2.549 0.073

 

Round Number: 
1
2016
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Comments

Just about even, like it was during their Tech 3 days. I don't understand why they left, they both had stronger finishes back then. Meh, just FP1.

Brings a whole new meaning to 2 tenths of a second xD

Even so, great to see the boys back on track!!!

2 1/2 tenths to Lorenzo with an open track ahead of him on the main race line. The conditions at Doha are difficult to over represent here. When the tires start going off I will be rivited to the throttle control, race craft, adaptibility and sensitivity of everyone.

Then a cluster of 4 including Iannone, Vinales and current rotating guest. AI29 and the GP16 have a solid opportunity to shine now here. Question - is Vinales on the fully seamless today? And how did the Suzuki motor look relative to the Ducati on the straight? Is Iannone walking away or no?

Answer from Vinales re the gearbox w tire thoughts. He thinks they are going to get a lot further w electronics too.

“The tyre needs some laps to warm up and the time was going down. I then did my last lap, which was my best. For sure it was difficult. I'm happy. It was so difficult to start because the track was so slide-y. Even the hard tyre was more difficult. We kept the concentration and calm so I'm happy. We tried one exit (w the fully seamless) but it still it didn't feel so good because now I feel so good with my bike I don't want to change anything. It's difficult to change when you feel great. I tried and we'll make different set-ups for tomorrow." Rumor has it that the fully seamless feels too rough on down shift and needs sorting.

The mechanical grip and overall rideability of the Suzuki can be contrasted with the Honda at this point much as the Yamaha has been. With the rise of Lorenzo and Marquez we can better see the historical shifts of the four stroke era. First we had the amazing Honda V5. Then the amazing Rossi. An amazing Yamaha has followed. Along with it came the sheer amazing pace of the cluster of Aliens, all 3 and a half of them (one is pint sized and sometimes just an astronaut). Now we have the addition of the pace of development of the Ducati and Suzuki bikes. And another set of young promising riders getting the grand circus tow out of mortal orbit while Vinales and a series of good seat openings pull like a black hole. Whatever Iannone does not do alongside what Stoner and tests do will incite fury from below for the Ducati seats.

Honda has work to do and as per testing the Marquez garage has a direction and is en route. Very curious to see what follows in DP26 and CC35's garages. I think of it as earning the hard way what the 14.2 was gifted largely by circumstance. I don't see Honda wrangling the bike this early in the season. I expect to see a sudden improvement for DP26, and not this weekend. FP1 is a small step forward for him though isn't it? I am worried that Honda and MM93 can't get a bike/rider and Qatar conditions all confluent when things are in flux. They may struggle with tire wear.

Speaking of tires, let's see these two compounds both working for race distance. And when we do let's heap praise on Michelin. We are going to see a few front end crashes and hear some grumbling from riders about the tires. Realize that the pace being run now with these tires on the unified electronics for 2015 machines is a remarkable success for Micbelin, and the series.

Lorenzo has made his entrance. Okay, he can't grab the first corner and first lap necessarily, but he can the third. More interesting happenings are afoot. And for our next act...

...is going to be a bloodbath!Its only Thursday, but by Sunday I´m going to be a nervous wreck.

The entire top ten were covered by less than a second.
Congratulations to everyone who had a hand in making that sentence possible

Looked for NH69s time on the sheet? then it dawned on me...

We will miss you Nicky. Best of luck to you in WSBK

Very interesting comparing Rossi and Vinales over the last 4 laps or so. Rossi had no or minimal speed advantage on the straights, despite being close enough to benefit from the slipstream of Vinales. Hector Barbara was not close enough to benefit from the combined slipstream of the two in front, but certainly was not gaining either. Clearly the GP14.2 of Barbara has not got the mechanical advantage the factory GP16's have (339 vs 347km/h).

Suzuki has certainly closed the straightline performance gap and has always been very capable in the twisty bits. Maverick is riding the thing very well indeed.

Early to call for some surprise results, but is there a whiff of a Suzuki upset in the air?

From the comments of Pedrosa and the current position of Marquez it suggests to me that the Honda engine was originally designed to be hooked to a computer harness rather than to a human hand.