The Qatar sunshine finally gave us the first appetiser for the 2018 season in the shape of a hot track full of eager youngsters running in bright daylight. The 32 degrees air temperature didn’t seem to intimidate them much after a long winter break and the lightweight class started off with a low key session, a handful of crashes and the key protagonists shining through.
Enea Bastianini’s switch to the Leopard outfit debuted on a positive note, the Italian looking like a good fit for the reigning World Champion team and heading the first results sheet of the year. Despite Bastianini’s late headline-stealing lap time, the three big title favourites were split by only two hundredths of a second.
Aron Canet was another early FP1 leader but the Spaniard had to settle for second, missing out on the top honour by only nine thousandths of a second. The all Honda top three was completed by Jorge Martin, the pole master starting off his season just as fast as he finished in Valencia.
The rest of the field were left a little in the dust, literally and otherwise, with John McPhee impressing in fourth position but still eight tenths of a second down on the leader. The gaps were significantly smaller behind the Scotsman, with Marco Bezzechi three hundredths down in fifth, Andrea Migno another two thousandths of a second behind his compatriot and the final Italian within a second of the leader – Fabio di Giannantonio in seventh position.
The top ten was completed by Kaito Toba for the Honda Team Asia squad, the KTM of Jakub Kornfeil and the leader’s teammate, Lorenzo Dalla Porta.
|7||21||Fabio DI GIANNANTONIO||Honda||2'08.655||0.914||0.076|
|10||48||Lorenzo DALLA PORTA||Honda||2'08.952||1.211||0.035|