MotoGP Qatar Free Practice 3 results: Espargaro on top again

Lorenzo speeds up and makes it into Q2, while teammate Rossi barely squeaks in at last minute

In what basically amounted to a preview of qualifying tomorrow, the MotoGP field used the latter portion of the third Free Practice session at the Losail Circuit in Qatar to install the softest tires possible in order to stake their claim to either the Q2 or Q1 qualifying sessions tomorrow. The top ten quickest riders automatically qualify for the Q2 session that determines the front three rows, while the rest of the field runs in the Q1 session that occurs first; the top two riders in the Q1 session then qualify to run in the following Q2 session.

As expected, NGM Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro continued to lead the MotoGP field, using the ultra-soft tire option available to the Open class teams to drop his best time down to a 1:54.773. Pramac Racing Ducati’s Andrea Iannone used that same soft tire option to shoot up the standings (he was 10th quickest in the previous FP2 session) and end up second, edging GO&FUN Gresini Honda’s Alvaro Bautista by 0.126 seconds, with Ducati factory rider Andrea Dovisioso continuing to show good form to end up fourth. Reigning World Champion Marc Marquez ended up fifth, while Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradley Smith came in sixth despite a nasty highside crash in the middle of the session that destroyed his “A” bike.

There was plenty of nail-biting in the factory Movistar Yamaha MotoGP pit box, as Jorge Lorenzo continued to encounter rear tire grip problems that prevented him from cracking the top ten. With just six minutes to go in the session, his crew threw on a medium option tire (the softest option available to the Factory class) and hoped for the best. Lorenzo put his head down and managed to set the seventh quickest time, automatically putting him in Q2 and allowing his crew to breathe a sigh of relief. Lorenzo’s teammate Valentino Rossi wasn’t doing as well, and looked like he might miss out on the cut for Q2, but a last-ditch effort allowed him to hold off Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Pol Espargaro (Aleix’s younger brother) for the final spot.

Combined Practice Times:

Pos. Rider Country Team Machine Time
1 Aleix Espargaro SPA NGM Forward Racing Forward Yamaha 1:54.773
2 Andrea Iannone ITA Pramac Racing Ducati 1:55.186
3 Alvaro Bautista SPA GO&FUN Honda Gresini Honda 1:55.240
4 Andrea Dovisioso ITA Ducati Team Ducati 1:55.250
5 Marc Marquez SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 1:55.446
6 Bradley Smith GBR Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 1:55.474
7 Jorge Lorenzo SPA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1:55.495
8 Dani Pedrosa SPA Repsol Honda Team Honda 1:55.562
9 Stefan Bradl GER LCR Honda MotoGP Honda 1:55.676
10 Valentino Rossi ITA Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Yamaha 1:55.702
11 Pol Espargaro SPA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 Yamaha 1:55.793
12 Cal Crutchlow GBR Ducati Team Ducati 1:56.013
13 Colin Edwards USA NGM Forward Racing Forward Yamaha 1:56.238
14 Nicky Hayden USA Drive M7 Aspar Honda 1:56.357
15 Yonny Hernandez COL Energy T.I. Pramac Racing Ducati 1:56.633
16 Hiroshi Aoyama JPN Drive M7 Aspar Honda 1:56.939
17 Scott Redding GBR GO&FUN Honda Gresini Honda 1:56.997
18 Karel Abraham CZE Cardion AB Motoracing Honda 1:57.345
19 Broc Parkes AUS Paul Bird Motorsport ART/Aprilia 1:57.665
20 Mike Di Meglio FRA Avintia Racing FTR/Kawasaki 1:58.204
21 Hector Barbera SPA Avintia Racing FTR/Kawasaki 1:58.219
22 Michael Laverty IRL Paul Bird Motorsport ART/Aprilia 1:58.378
23 Danilo Petrucci ITA Ioda Racing Project Ioda/Aprilia 1:58.651