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2014-03-22 16:22

SEE THAT ESPARGARO GO: Spaniard Aleix Espargaro of Spain, looking like he has a pillion passenger, during practice ahead of the 2014 MotoGP at the Losail circuit in Doha. Image: AFP

DOHA, Qatar - Spain's Aleix Espargaro made a clean sweep of all three practice sessions for the season-opening 2014 Qatar Motorcycle GP on Friday (March 21) while 2013 champion Marc Marquez emerged as the fastest of the MotoGP title favourites.

Espargaro clocked 1min54.773 in Friday's second session after also topping the time sheets earlier in the day and on Thursday ahead of Sunday's floodlit desert race.

Ducati's Andrea Iannone was second overall at +0.413sec, Alvaro Bautista (Honda) was third and Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) fourth.


Marquez (Honda), who in his rookie year (2013) became the youngest MotoGP champion, looked uneasy. He was fifth-fastest overall at +0.673sec for Honda. He broke his right leg in a dirt-biking accident six weeks earlier but was the best-placed of the factory teams which did not test at the Gulf venue two weeks earlier.

Yamaha Tech3's Bradley Smith limped away from a huge crash but still posted sixth-fastest.

Factory Yamaha rider Jorge Lorenzo, 2010 and 2012 champion, was seventh with 1min55.495 to make sure of his place in the elite Q2 qualifying session on Saturday.

The Spaniard, who had three operations to repair a collarbone broken twice in two crashes in 2013, had been outside the top 10 until a late charge. He said: "We had the same feeling today with little rear grip with the soft tyre. We tried to adapt to the situation and the positive thing is that we are closer to the faster riders, maybe three or four tenths instead of a whole second.

"Let's see if we can improve a bit more (on Saturday)."


Dani Pedrosa, on a second factory Honda, was eighth, Stefan Bradl on another Honda ninth and nine-times champion Valentino Rossi, starting his 19th year in MotoGP, 10th on a second factory Yamaha. Rossi said later:

"The big problem for us is the new Bridgestone tyre that has a lot less grip on the edge.

"Espargaro remains one step ahead and he is very fast. He remains race favourite. It's very difficult to overtake so on Saturday in qualifying I have to go faster."
Read more on:    yamaha  |  ducati  |  honda  |  doha

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