17 March 2016
MotoGP Qatar: Form man Lorenzo heads Rossi in FP1
Reigning MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo kick-starts 2016 title defence by topping first free practice session of the new season as Valentino Rossi makes it a Movistar Yamaha 1-2.
True to form, Jorge Lorenzo led the way as the first free practice session of the 2016 MotoGP World Championship got underway underneath the floodlights at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar on Thursday evening.
The Movistar Yamaha rider and team-mate Valentino Rossi were the top two on day one, separated only by 0.267 seconds.
Lorenzo quickly moved to the top of the times ahead of Repsol Honda's Marc Marquez, pulling 0.3 seconds clear of the field with a lap in 1m 56.0s after ten minutes with Ducati's Andrea Iannone running third on the G16.
The reigning world champion then upped the pace further on the M1, lapping in 1m 55.693s to lay down a marker as he put 0.6 seconds between himself and Marquez.
Italian Iannone slashed Lorenzo's deficit to 0.043 seconds with 15 minutes of FP1 remaining, with Hector Barbera impressing on the Avintia Ducati GP14.2 as he climbed to third ahead of Marquez, who ventured out with winglets fitted to his RC213V.
Rossi on the second of the factory Yamahas was holding fifth ahead of Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda) and Bradley Smith (Monster Yamaha Tech 3).
With five minutes to go, Rossi pulled a fast time out of the bag to jump into third place, only 0.113 seconds behind his team-mate, while Barbera improved his time by 0.4 seconds as he held a solid fourth on the times. Pedrosa and Pol Espargaro on the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 filled the top six places.
British rider Smith, in the spotlight in Qatar after claiming he was unlikely to have a seat in the Tech 3 team in 2017, had the misfortune of becoming the first MotoGP rider to suffer a spill after sliding off at turn 13 while lying 11th with two minutes to go.
As the clock ticked down, Lorenzo found another tenth to cement his position at the top, lapping in 1m 55.440s, while Rossi made it a Yamaha one-two as he slotted into second with a lap in 1m 55.707s – 0.267 seconds back.
Iannone ended FP1 in a fine third on the Ducati, just 0.029s behind Rossi, with Barbera completing an excellent day's work as the Spaniard fourth, 0.370s off the pace of Lorenzo.
Suzuki's Maverick Vinales made sound progress throughout the session, improving all the time to eventually finish fifth fastest on the GSX-RR, one place ahead of Pol Espargaro.
Pedrosa was the top factory Honda in seventh after Marquez dropped down the order, with 0.160s between the pair, although Marquez has eight tenths to find on Lorenzo.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) and Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Ducati) completed the top ten, with Smith next ahead of Cal Crutchlow on the LCR Honda.
Aleix Espargaro was 16th on the second of the works Suzuki machines behind Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Ducati), while Ireland's Eugene Laverty finished 0.029 seconds behind his Aspar team-mate Yonny Hernandez as the pair wrapped up FP1 in 18th and 19th respectively.
Rookie Tito Rabat was 20th on the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Honda ahead of Aprilia's Stefan Bradl, whose team-mate, Alvaro Bautista, was 17th fastest.
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