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Challenging Free Practice Sessions for Movistar Yamaha MotoGP at Qatar

Yamaha Qatar MotoGP

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP‘s Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi faced a difficult and very close second and third free practice session ahead of the Grand Prix of Qatar. The teammates finished in eighth and ninth place respectively in the combined session times.

Lorenzo and Rossi were keen to hit the Losail International Circuit at the start of the morning session. They lined up their YZR-M1s side by side, impatiently waiting for the pit lane light to turn green. However, it soon became apparent that finding the right combination of set-up and tyre would be today‘s biggest challenge.

Jorge Lorenzo showed a quick and consistent pace at the start of FP1. He held fourth place for most of the morning session with a fastest lap of 1‘55.609, but was pushed back two places after a final flurry of activity.

At the end of the second 45 minutes session, the double MotoGP Champion claimed eighth place with a fastest lap of 1‘55.108, less than three-tenths from the leader.

Teammate Valentino Rossi needed a little more time in the morning session to find his pace, as he tried both tyre options. He found a solution towards the end of FP1 and finished right behind his teammate in seventh place with a 1‘55.618 lap.

The afternoon session saw an improvement in time from the nine-time World Champion. He posted a fastest time of 1‘55.192, 0,370s off the front, but was unable to improve his position in the time sheets. He ended the session in ninth place.

Jorge Lorenzo

8th / 1’55.108 / 18 laps

“It was difficult today, but I feel great on the bike with the soft tyre. We also tried the harder tyre, which is very consistent. I could maybe do around a hundred laps of 1‘56.1 on it, but this is too slow, so, for the moment, I prefer the soft option. We found some problems with the electronics this afternoon that were a little strange. We need to investigate what‘s going on. We‘ll keep working to increase our pace to a high 1‘54, which is our goal. It will be a hard fight for the front row tomorrow, because many riders have the extra soft tyre, that gives them four-tenths of a second. They are also stronger than last year, so it will even be difficult to get a position on the second row, but you never know what will happen. Maybe we can find something that will give us half a second and even let us fight for pole position.”

Valentino Rossi

9th / 1’55.192 / 17 laps

“I am satisfied about today because the minimum target that I set for myself was to be inside the top ten. The last practice session was unbelievable because there are ten bikes within three-tenths of a second. I‘m not happy about my position, but I‘m not far from pole position. To get the pole tomorrow will be very hard, but I want to start a little more in front of the field. We improved the bike and the setting a lot today and my pace is not so bad, it‘s very similar to that of the other top guys. We have to keep working on the tyres, especially the rear. I might be able to use the softer option, but maybe I can also use the hard tyre, so tomorrow will be a very important day to understand which tyre I should use for the race. Right now it‘s 50/50.”

Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director

“Even if the position is not what we expected, we still made a step today and saw some improvements. The bike is starting to work better and also the track is improving and provides more grip. Both our riders spent most of the session using the hard tyre to see if this is an option for Sunday. Though their pace was consistent it wasn‘t very fast. When they moved on to the softer tyre the improvements were quite significant. We still have work to do, but we are quite optimistic that tomorrow we can make another step. Considering the amount of work we did in not a lot of time, I think we did quite a good job.”

Tech3 pair push onwards in the desert on day 2 at Qatar

Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team rider Pol Espargaro concluded the second day of action at the opening round in Qatar to finish in 10th position after a spirited performance under the floodlights. The young Spaniard kicked off proceedings by finishing in 14th in the second practice, however, the 2013 Moto2 World Champion remained optimistic of improvement and focused on the FP3 session where he adjusted the setup of the Yamaha YZR-M1. Espargaro powered onwards and scored a best lap of 1’55.328 that left him only 0.506 from the leading rider, after cutting a full second from his yesterday’s time in the intensely competitive field. His performance in the third practice session, sees him glide straight through to Qualifying 2 tomorrow, where he will fully intend to clinch a top qualifying placement for the first race of the year on Sunday.

On the other side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team garage, Bradley Smith rode determinedly and gave his all before completing the challenging day in 16th position. The young Briton, who reaches the milestone of competing in 150 Grand Prix’s in all classes this Sunday, opened the second day at the Losail International circuit by finishing in 9th in the second free practice. In the afternoon Smith continued to push, yet was unfortunate in not being able to improve on his time set earlier in the day, which left him in 16th overall. Nevertheless, his best lap of 1’55.741 was just seven tenths from the top 5 and will see him compete in the Qualifying 1 session tomorrow. The 23 year old still remains positive and confident of seizing a strong result in the 22 lap race on Sunday.

Pol Espargaro

10th / 1’55.328 / 17 laps

“For sure, I can’t be completely happy as finishing in tenth is nothing to be thrilled about. However, maybe I could say that I’m satisfied in one respect as we are right behind the factory guys and also the gap to the leader is not that big. Moreover we still have some margin to improve as we are struggling with our rear grip, yet I’m confident that we can solve this issue tomorrow. In my opinion, it’s normal that we ended up in tenth in a session which turned out to be a qualification for us and also, my teammate who has always been fast at this track, is even further behind. I don’t think we deserve the disadvantage we have because of the tyre allocation, but that’s how it is so we just have to deal with it. Fortunately we managed to go straight to QP2 but for sure, it won’t be easy at all to achieve a decent grid position tomorrow.”

Bradley Smith

16th / 1’55.741 / 19 laps

“Of course, the end result today wasn’t what we planned at all. To be honest, we were going really well in the first two runs in FP3 and I felt confident on the old tyres at the beginning. Then on the second run, we tried the hard compound and I was one of the fastest riders on this type of tyre. However, we then put the new medium on at the end of the session but it didn’t work well and I couldn’t improve my lap time. Yet, I can’t be negative as the bike feels good and I am certain that if we make a few small modifications, we can improve tomorrow. Qualifying 1 will be tough, especially with the riders who will use the soft tyres, but I am convinced that it is still possible that we can do a good job. We have been competitive all weekend and we were just unlucky when it was time to do a time attack. These things happen, but I’m glad it was today and not tomorrow or Sunday. We’ll stay positive, try to improve in a few small areas and then prepare for a fast lap in qualifying.”

Bradl only three-tenths short of the fastest Open bike in Doha

Stefan Bradl was very close to the Open class leader during the second day of practice for the Athinà Forward Racing team at the Losail circuit.

The German posted an encouraging 1.55.694, which earned him the 14th place just three tenths short of his rival Hector Barbera. Bradl is feeling confident in view of the first qualifying session of the season and the goal is to place his Yamaha Forward on top of the Open class standings.

Loris Baz spent less time on track as he crashed entering a corner, fortunately without major consequences. The Frenchman was brought to Clinica Mobile for verification and then to the Circuit Medical Center. He suffered the avulsion of the nail of the left little finger and had a X-ray performed to his hand to exclude any fracture.

Stefan Bradl

14th / 1’55.694 / 17 laps

“I’m not very far from the first Open bike. Barbera is only three-tenths faster and I’m less than a second from the leading factory bikes. The overall feeling is good, I have to work on the rear grip to have more confidence in the corners. Tomorrow we will continue to work in view of the race, I look forward for more track-time.”

Loris Baz

23th / 1’56.966 / 7 laps

“The goal was to make the most of this practice session in view of tomorrow qualifying, but after falling I was unable to complete the run. After the fall I suffered the avulsion of the nail of the left little finger, but fortunately without any fracture. The guys of the Clinica Mobile fixed my hand so that I can go back on track tomorrow. I’m eager to do well in qualifying.”

2015 MotoGP Qatar

Losail Circuit 27/03/2015

1 Marc Marquez Honda ESP 1’54.822
2 Cal Crutchlow Honda GBR 1’54.918
3 Andrea Iannone Ducati ITA 1’54.992
4 Aleix Espargaro Suzuki ESP 1’54.994
5 Daniel Pedrosa Honda ESP 1’55.024
6 Andrea Dovizioso Ducati ITA 1’55.044
7 Yonny Hernandez Ducati COL 1’55.102
8 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha ESP 1’55.108
9 Valentino Rossi Yamaha ITA 1’55.192
10 Pol Espargaro Yamaha ESP 1’55.328
11 Hector Barbera Avintia ESP 1’55.396
12 Scott Redding Honda GBR 1’55.447
13 Maverick Viñales Suzuki ESP 1’55.676
14 Stefan Bradl Yamaha DE 1’55.694
15 Mike Di Meglio Avintia FRA 1’55.707
16 Bradley Smith Yamaha GBR 1’55.741
23 Loris Baz Yamaha FRA 1’56.966

Circuit Length:
5380

Lap Record:
1’55.537
(Casey Stoner, 1-1-2009)

Fastest Lap Ever:
1’53.927
(Jorge Lorenzo, 9-3-2008)

Last Years Winner:
Marc Marquez