MotoGP: Fierce competition and fastest laps: the stage is set on opening day in Qatar

MotoGP: Fierce competition and fastest laps: the stage is set on opening day in Qatar

After a long winter break, we look upon testing as the first answers to the questions raised by rider moves, current form and potential that begins to brim in the final races of the season before. But really, it’s more a teaser that whets our appetite ahead of the first Grand Prix of the season and even then, it’s when the lights go out for racing that we really get some answers.

So Day 1 in the desert kept us guessing in tantalising style with records broken, mysteries solved and ups and downs for many on the grid – a perfect storm of unpredictability and fierce competition for the VisitQatar Grand Prix.

Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was undoubtedly the headliner of Act 1, however. The now seven-time World Champion’s new lap record – nearly half a second clear at the top – laid down an early benchmark that puts him squarely in the driving seat but it’s not one-lap pace that’s been in doubt for the Spaniard. Coming back from surgery to his shoulder, longevity and consistency is the question on everyone’s lips. And behind Marquez’ eyebrow-raiser of a 1’53.380, the riders were packed together down the timesheets.

The first of those was Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP). After a more difficult season at times in 2018, consistency is also a key word for him and the Iwata marque so topping testing and showing some solid pace on Day 1 is a good start. He did have some close company in the form of Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) though – top Independent Team rider on Friday and fastest Ducati – as the Australian ended Friday just 0.054 off the Spaniard.

Next up behind Miller was another Ducati: Mission Winnow Ducati Team newcomer Danilo Petrucci, who was the top Borgo Panigale factory team rider once again – as he was in testing. Teammate and 2018 Qatar winner Andrea Dovizioso was in P6 but not far off, however, and therein came the seemingly solved mystery: the switch seen on the Ducati in testing was spotted in action on Day 1 and it appeared to fit with the rumour mill theory of a holeshot device for race starts. Will we see more on Saturday?

Splitting the two Italian factory machines was another impressive performance from Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT). The French rookie was the fastest newcomer to the class once again, and threatened the top just like in testing. So that seems one question answered: yes, he can do it again. And his teammate, Franco Morbidelli, had a solid showing on Day 1 too – slotting it just behind ‘DesmoDovi’, pushed down to P7 by just 0.019 despite a crash.

Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Alex Rins, another superstar in testing, was eighth quickest on Friday by another tiny gap of less than half a tenth, just ahead of Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s Aleix Espargaro. Espargaro, who was well within the top ten at the Qatar Test too, was another answer revealed on Day 1 – it’s a feat that can be repeated during the race weekend. Rookie Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) completed the top ten after shooting first in the time attack at the end of FP2, only a tenth off teammate Rins and briefly top before times tumbled.

So who’s missing in the provisional top ten of Q2 qualifiers? First is the still-recovering Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team), near the top in the morning, who just got relegated to 11th by Rins’ final fast lap at the end of FP2. And Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP), the fastest man in the first session just ahead of Lorenzo, ended the day in 17th overall and was just 0.005 ahead of Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Pol Espargaro so the two will be pushing to move forward in FP3. Will Rossi deal a faster hand when we head back out on track for more? Will the conditions allow those outside the top ten to improve? Or can those between the ‘Doctor’ and old nemesis Lorenzo – Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol), rookie Francesco Bagnaia (Alma Pramac Racing) and Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) – set us up for a Q1-shootout to remember?

Winning margins used to be minutes, then they became seconds, tenths, hundredths…now it’s thousandths that separate the laptimes for one of the strongest grids ever seen. Day 1 set the stage for a stunning Saturday at Losail International Circuit, so make sure to tune in for qualifying from 20:00 (GMT +3) local time.

 

Baldassarri beats Schrötter to the top
Italian comes out the blocks quickest but it’s tight behind him on the timesheets

Lorenzo Baldassarri (Flexbox HP 40) led the way in an exceptionally tight Moto2™ field on Day 1 of the VisitQatar Grand Prix, with just three quarters of a second separating the top fifteen. The Italian was second in the race last season but of the competitors still in the class, he was the highest finisher – a benchmark in itself, adding to the new lap record set on Friday. At the top he had a little breathing space, however, with an advantage of a quarter of a second over FP1’s fastest man Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP). Remy Gardner (ONEXOX TKKR SAG Team) locked out the top three, only 0.030 in further arrears as the Australian signalled the start of the infinitesimal gaps from there on out.

Fourth place went to Sam Lowes (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) as he converted impressive race pace in testing to a solid time attack too, with Alex Marquez (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) completing the top five. Jorge Navarro (+Ego Speed Up) took P6 and showed more impressive speed for rider and manufacturer, ahead of a leap up the timesheets from Andrea Locatelli (Italtrans Racing Team). Brad Binder (Red Bull KTM Ajo) was the fastest KTM and made sure the Austrian factory were represented in the top ten, 0.005 off Locatelli, with Xavi Vierge (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) taking P9.

The top ten was completed by rookie Enea Bastianini (Italtrans Racing Team) as the Italian took the honour of fastest debutant on Friday. He was hundredths in front of Augusto Fernandez (Flexbox HP 40), with NTS RW Racing GP’s Bo Bendsneyder in P12 as the Dutchman continued his top form in 2019. Tom Lüthi (Dynavolt Intact GP), returning from the premier class, was 13th despite a crash near the end of the day but remains a provisional Q2 graduate. This weekend the new qualifying format comes in and it’s the fastest 14 after FP3 who’ll go through automatically – so it’s reigning Moto3™ World Champion and Moto2™ rookie Jorge Martin (Red Bull KTM Ajo) currently on course to be the final rider to graduate.

American Racing KTM’s Iker Lecuona crashed in FP1 and was declared fit, returning to the track after a check up to rejoin the action in FP2. Now it’s FP3 time and the final practice session starts at 14:20 (GMT +3) local time on Saturday – tune in to see if there’ll be a shake up before qualifying.

 

Canet topples Fenati on Friday
Spaniard goes quickest in FP2 despite the Italian’s ominous form in both testing and FP1

Aron Canet (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team) blitzed the Moto3™ field by the end of Day 1 at the VisitQatar Grand Prix; the only rider to go below the 2:05 barrier and an impressive 0.595 clear of FP1’s fastest man, the returning Romano Fenati (Snipers Team). It was close competition to complete the top three, however, as 2016 Qatar GP winner Niccolo Antonelli (SIC58 Squadra Corse) was third quickest but only 0.084 off Fenati despite a crash.

It was a record-breaking FP2 session as Canet’s time was well under the old lap record to throw down the gauntlet, and more than half a second in hand on Friday makes for good reading as the new qualifying format for the lightweight class begins this weekend. For the first time, entry to Q2 will be decided by the combined standings at the end of FP3 and the fourteen fastest earn automatic graduation.

Behind the top three it got seriously close, however, so competition will be tight. Less than four tenths separate fourth place Andrea Migno (Bester Capital Dubai) to 16th place John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing). Behind Migno, Gabriel Rodrigo (Kömmerling Gresini Moto3), less than a week after fracturing his collarbone in testing, finished Day 1 in Qatar in an incredible fifth place. He led Jakub Kornfeil (Redox PrüstelGP) by 0.090, with Lorenzo Dalla Porta (Leopard Racing) just a further 0.005 in arrears.

Tony Arbolino (Snipers Team) cemented eighth on his final run with a 2:05.480, ahead of  Kazuki Masaki (BOE Skull Rider Mugen Race) and Albert Arenas (Angel Nieto Team) in ninth and tenth respectively. Kaito Toba (Honda Team Asia), Reale Avintia Arizona 77’s Vicente Perez, Red Bull KTM Ajo rider Can Öncü and Dennis Foggia (Sky Racing Team VR46) are currently set to join them in Q2 – but there’s time yet for that to change in FP3. That begins at 13:25 (GMT +3) on Saturday.

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24 minutes ago

F1

Back in 1986, onboard cameras were *the* cool new thing in F1 🎥

And in Australia, Johnny Dumfries showed everyone why 🤩
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Manual gearbox and clutch F1 car onboards are the best, the drivers were proper manhandling them round the circuit and it was spectacular viewing. This setup actually lasted until 1995, when the Forti FG01 was the last F1 car to have this system

These guys were epic...they literally had to muscle these cares around a track...and do it one handed while shifting! Impressive 🙂

In tht Grand Prix, Nigel Mansell (Williams) retired (puncture) and the world championship was clinched by Alain Prost (McLaren)

From a time when drivers drove and pilots flew planes, stunning footage but what happened at appx 50 seconds 🤔🤔

What track is this?

This was real racing, manual gearbox and the steering......

Would love to see the PS generation drive those cars! 😊

Real driving with gear changing... absolute magic!! 👍🏁

The era turbo: simply, cars were beasts. And these drivers were superb!

Wow that was cool shifting sound and flames 🙌💪💪

He took a shower of gasoline from the ahead car,when you see that the camera goes white, imagine that while have to deal whith a manual gearbox monster

Audio is completely out of sync. Ahhh those where the days

No electronic aids, no flappy paddle shifters. These cars had to be driven, manhandled, beaten into submission until tamed. And only the best could truly tame these beasts.

You should use much more onboard on F1 transmissions. MUUUUUCH more.

How cool would it be to bring back a manual gearbox and clutch!

Like a boss!!! One handed on the wheel and shifting gears like a man. 🙂

WOW!!! Only 34 years ago but technology seems light years apart

My bum was biting lumps out of my chair while watching

These old onboards are some of my favorite things to watch during quarantine

His team mate on pole (Ayrton )

Look at the Turbo Lag 🔥🔥🏁

Adelaide ❤ e lo sponsor Foster's... quanta nostalgia ❤

Back when f1 cars were just huge go karts

in the good old days❤

Love is too hard to find... I'm fed up of searching for love

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1 hr ago

MotoGP

The next hero in a long line of American motorcycle racing talent? 🇺🇸

Go behind the scenes with Joe Roberts racer in this exclusive documentary as he sets out on his path to take a nation back to the top ✨

#MotoGP
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Us American fans can only hope. It’s been a long time since the golden age of American riders that I grew up watching.

Saw my first moto race and Joe Robert's started on the pole in Qatar! Was a blast but wish MotoGP could have been there. Maybe the Texas race will be the next one.

Gosh, that livery is amazing. LOVE the helmet!

There is an American in super sport.

It's time to rise again USA 😀

All the Best💥..

Wish ya was racing at home this weekend!!!

Good america moto gp

🇺🇲

Je m'implique moins ds ka moto2 que ds le MotoGP classe 1000 mais j'aime regarder de la moto3 jusk'a MotoGP sauf que trop de pilotes sur le plateau moto2 je retient pas tout forcément merci Steve Ragaud

Vincent Bennett

La famille roberts Grand nom de la MotoGP du père kenny Robert puis kenny Robert jr champion du monde avec Suzuki et maintena t le fiston! En lui espérant la même carrière que ses aînés!

If the season would get shorten this year. I do believe this wouls be a great chance for Joe to capitalize on this one. Can't wait to see him polish a few mistakes he & his team had in the first race. 😎

Use the front very late along with the rear you moron

Long line ?

Hate it when you do this, he has 1 podium and now all eyes are on him so he is gunna feel a mountain of pressure and if he fails that's the end of his career you guys got to stop making a big deal so early all the time what if he can't take the pressure of everyone focused on him 😒

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2 hrs ago

24H Series

The new 24H DUBAI 2020 merchandise is now online in our shop!

Check out our shop now, and get yourself a limited edition 24H DUBAI polo, vest or cap😍

www.24hseries.store
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The new 24H DUBAI 2020 merchandise is now online in our shop!

Check out our shop now, and get yourself a limited edition 24H DUBAI polo, vest or cap😍

www.24hseries.store

Comment on Facebook

What, no umbrellas or wellington boots?!

3 hrs ago

F1

"Being able to control a 700kg, 1000 horsepower car only with your hands and your feet is... it's the best thing" - we hear you, Romain Grosjean 😍 🤩 ... See Less

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I used to love this driver, great talent but now he’s just unpredictable driver.

If by control you mean running off track on at least one turn during the first lap of every GP, then you’re good👍🏼🤦🏻‍♂️

Karim: "Being able to CRASH a 700kg, 1000 horsepower car only with your hands and your feet is... it's the best thing" - we hear you, Romain Grosjean"

Of course I can't drive as well as Grosjean, but I can still differ a good race driver from a bad one.

Not the best driver, but a generally good guy.

Ah the hate and cheap jokes on Romain Grosjean. I bet the majority of the haters here can’t even ride a tricycle without going flat on their faces! Get a life, kids.

The problem is you are not good enough. You crash even under saftycar rules.

Somehow I think that the driver's main control unit deserved a mention, as well :).

The problem is there Romain you can't control a 700 kg car with 1000 horsepower, Mr Gunter has had enough of you and Kevin 🤣

Just exactly what the hell is left to control the car with? Is there a lesser-known control system that uses, exclusively, ear muscles, armpits, and hip flexors?????

Yeah takes a special kind of talent to spin a car in pit lane and end up facing the wrong way.

Is he reading that out for someone coz this guy couldn't control a shopping kart

But he can’t control it lol. Poor romain. Give me the wheel I’ll show you 🙃

Grosjean and car handling? April Fools, I got it.

All the expert race car drivers on this post 😂🤣😂🤣 Yeah, Grosjean isn't the best, but he's certainly better than all you facebookers knocking him 😉

Since the 2020 F1 season is pretty much cancelled, Grojean took on a warehouse job..

His best season to date was 2013, when he was team mate to Räikkönen at Lotus. Got 6 podiums and 7 other points finishes, but since 2014 his career’s been very inconsistent

The best driver on the grid that knows how to crash

Goes to show what you think you can realise, no matter how far-fetched! Just look at Romain Grosjean.... An F1 driver.... Still... Wow...

Too bad there are no racing series like that...

“Being able to control.”

Still mastering the art of leaving the pitlane!

Best season for Grosjean. He didn’t crashed in any race so far.

Ironically from the driver who tends not to control his car! 🙄🤔

its a formula ignorant, not a car, you know nothing and you talk. shame

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