MotoGP rookie Pol Espargaro enjoyed another strong ride in Qatar as the reigning Moto2 world champion finished ahead of Honda pair Alvaro Bautista and Stefan Bradl on the first day of testing at the Losail circuit.

The Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider was third fastest overall behind Aleix Espargaro on the Open class Forward Yamaha and his British team-mate Bradley Smith, setting a best lap in 1m 56.07s to finish 0.686s off the top.

Espargaro, whose time on the YZR-M1 has been restricted solely to the Sepang pre-season tests this year, relished the chance to ride the Yamaha at a different venue as the clock ticks down to the season opener in Qatar on March 23.

"I am very happy with how today went, as it was my first time here on a MotoGP bike. I am pleased to be riding somewhere other than Sepang, as it allows me to explore the bike more," he said.

"There is still a lot to learn, and the main aim during the next two days is to make me ride a bit smoother as this is how the Yamaha goes fast.

"I am still fighting a bit too much with the bike, but I need to become one with it, which is what I am going to work on," he added.
"Overall, the bike worked well today and the team helped me a lot with adapting to this circuit so quickly."

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