MotoGP Qatar: Lorenzo leads Rossi in opening practice

Picture: Bonnie Lane

Reigning MotoGP World Champion Jorge Lorenzo set the pace in today’s opening MotoGP practice session at Qatar and headed Movistar Yamaha team-mate Valentino Rossi in second with factory Ducati’s Andrea Iannone in third while Dani Pedrosa was the best of the Honda’s in seventh place.

Lorenzo took the lead on the half hour, going in front of leader Marc Marquez with a 1’56.279 and then topping it with a 1’56.080 before pulling a big gap with a 1’55.693 on his seventh lap of the Losail circuit. No-one had an answer for the Mallorcan but Iannone came close on a 1’55.736 before Lorenzo came out again and stamped his authority on the field.

Lorenzo stuck in a 1’55.515 in the final minute and then on his last lap banged in a 1’55.440. Rossi had been chasing Maverick Vinales for the final ten minutes and had Hector ‘The Caravan’ Barbera in tow. The Doctor had been sitting in third place after a slow start but leapt ahead of Iannone with his final lap of 1’55.707.

Iannone stayed third with his 1’55.736 - set on his eighth lap - while Barbera held on to fourth, his final lap behind Rossi enough to demote Suzuki’s Vinales back to fifth after he occupied fourth for about one second.

Pol Espargaro jumped into sixth place with his last lap, setting a 1’56.051 to demote Repsol Honda’s Pedrosa who was one place and 0.160s ahead of team-mate Marquez. Andrea Dovizioso ended in ninth place, one in front of Scott Redding who came into the top ten after a slow start. The British rider is less than a second off the pace.

Bradley Smith ended in 11th place, putting in a 1’56.524 on his 13th lap before losing the front at turn 13 with only a couple of minutes left to run. Cal Crutchlow finished his session in 12th, with Loris Baz, Jack Miller and the injured Danilo Petrucci in 15th.

Eugene Laverty, who missed a lot of pre-season testing due to injury, was 19th.

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