A small piece of MotoGP history was made at Qatar on Friday night, when Aleix Espargaro put his Open class Yamaha on top of the official testing timesheets.

Admittedly the Honda, Yamaha and Ducati manufacturer teams were absent, having held their final pre-season test at Phillip Island earlier this week, but four Factory class machines are present alongside the Open competitors at Losail.

It was one of these, Monster Yamaha Tech 3's Bradley Smith, who dominated much of the opening night's testing. However Espargaro moved steadily closer to the Englishman before putting his Forward Yamaha on top during the final hour.

Espargaro concluded the night 0.253s clear of Smith with a best time of 1m 55.386s. That is already faster than the best race lap in last year's grand prix and only a few tenths behind Casey Stoner's 2008 official lap record.

Fourth quickest - and ahead of all the satellite Yamaha and Honda riders - at both Sepang tests, Espargaro's potential has recently been slightly overshadowed by Ducati's Open class switch.

However the Spaniard has provided a timely reminder that the Factory class will have more than one brand of bike to watch out for in the March 23 season opener, at the same Losail circuit.

Third on the timesheets was Smith's rookie team-mate Pol Espargaro (+0.686s), younger brother of Aleix, with Gresini Honda's Alvaro Bautista and LCR Honda's Stefan Bradl setting exactly the same lap time in fourth (+0.695s)!

The second best Open class rider was Pramac Ducati Andrea Iannone (+1.394s), followed by Espargaro's team-mate Colin Edwards (+1.575s) and Iannone's team-mate Yonny Hernandez (+1.932s).

The Production Honda riders will again be concerned by the gap to the front with Aspar's Nicky Hayden in ninth (+2.188s) and Gresini rookie Scott Redding in tenth (+2.536s). On a personal level, Redding should at least be satisfied by the small difference to former champion Hayden.

Further down the order the PBM team returned after skipping the second Sepang test to finish the night in 14th (Broc Parkes) and 17th places (Michael Laverty), out of the 17 riders.

The Iodaracing team was making its 2014 debut, with the lone entry of Danilo Petrucci unsurprisingly first out on track as he got to grips with the team's new ART machinery. Petrucci was 16th quickest after 57 laps. Only Iannone and Hernandez completed more Friday laps (63).

Testing continues on Saturday and concludes on Sunday night.



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