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Lorenzo leads opening night in Qatar

Jorge Lorenzo fastest during Thursday night's practice session for the Qatar MotoGP at Losail.
Reigning double MotoGP champion Jorge Lorenzo led a Yamaha top three during Thursday night's practice for the season-opening Qatar MotoGP, at Losail.

The Factory Yamaha rider snatched the top spot by just 0.058s from Tech 3's Cal Crutchlow, while team-mate Valentino Rossi turned back the clock to lead most of the 45-minutes.

Riding on a dusty surface, Rossi picked up where he had left off prior to his ill-fated Ducati venture by shooting straight to the top on his first flying lap.

The seven time MotoGP champion then knocked chunks out of his lap time to stay ahead of Lorenzo and Crutchlow as the halfway stage came and went.

Lorenzo momentarily moved ahead, but it was Crutchlow who went top - and stayed there - by just 0.080s over Rossi with five minutes to go. Lorenzo edged ahead of them both with one minute to run, then went a fraction faster on his final lap.

Rookie Marc Marquez was best of the rest, 0.520s from Rossi in fourth for Repsol Honda, with new Ducati signing Andrea Dovizioso claiming a promising fifth place (+0.853s). Marquez and Dovizioso both featured as high as third during the session.

Gresini Honda's Alvaro Bautista (+0.916s) and LCR Honda's Stefan Bradl (0.985s) were the last riders within one-second of Lorenzo, who won from pole at Losail in 2012.

Marquez's team-mate and last year's title runner-up Dani Pedrosa ran wide several times on his way to surprisingly low eighth place (+1.064s). Aspar's Aleix Espargaro was just a fraction slower after a highly impressive performance on his CRT specification Aprilia.

Nicky Hayden (+1.2s) completed the top ten for Ducati, followed by rookies Bradley Smith (+1.6s) and Andrea Iannone (1.9s). Iannone's team-mate Ben Spies - yet to recover full strength in his healing shoulder - was the slowest of the manufacturer riders in 13th place, 1.9s from Lorenzo.




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