A pair of strong performances during this evening’s exciting free-practice sessions in Qatar put Ducati Team riders Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden in a positive frame of mind for MotoGP’s new qualifying system, set to debut tomorrow night. The teammates were both well inside the top ten in combined free-practice times, meaning they will advance directly into tomorrow’s Q2 session.
Dealing with the challenging conditions presented by stiff winds and a dirty track surface, the Italian posted his best lap time with eight minutes left in FP3, at which point he sat in third place in the combined times. He ultimately ended the session fifth, just .001 seconds behind Valentino Rossi, and .333 seconds from leader Marc Marquez. Hayden’s best lap put him in seventh place with six minutes remaining, and he would slip one spot before the session ended.
Andrea Dovizioso – Ducati Team, 5th (1:56.417)
“I’m very happy with the position, but I’m especially pleased with the gap to the front. Fifth place is good, but the gap of three tenths is even better. I didn’t expect to be so close, especially because up until this session, we didn’t really have true parameters. In fact, this was the first faceoff with the soft tyre, and we can say that we were pretty close to the others when the tyre is new. We still have to see how things are in race configuration, and tomorrow before qualifying, we’ll decide if we should go ahead with the soft tyre.”
Nicky Hayden – Ducati Team, 8th (1:56.670)
“It certainly wasn’t easy tonight, as conditions were changing a lot. The wind was really strong in FP2, and there was a lot of sand on the track, but when things improved for FP3, I could push a bit harder. I kind of treated the session like qualifying, because it’s important to advance to QP2. My position isn’t great, but the gap to the front isn’t so bad. We want to make the bike more controllable in the wind and improve traction on corner entry, so if we can keep working in a good way, maybe we can do well in qualifying. It should be exciting.”