The reigning MotoGP™ World Champion Marc Marquez ended the first Free Practice session of the 2015 MotoGP™ season on top in Qatar.
The reigning MotoGP™ World Champion laid down a marker for the rest of the field early on in the 45 minute FP1 session by setting a 1’55.281. Marquez said he felt good around the Losail International Circuit as they were still trying out some new settings on his RC213V. His Repsol Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa (+0.076s) was the only rider able to get within four-tenths of Marquez, and he said he was satisfied with his efforts today.
The Repsol Honda team were delighted to have completed a 1-2 at the top of the timesheets and re-establish their dominance after having to play second fiddle to the new Ducati GP15 during the recent test at the same circuit. Surprisingly though, it wasn’t the factory Ducati’s that were the main rival to the Honda.
In fact it was the Team Suzuki Ecstar bike of Aleix Espargaro (+0.404s) that finished closest to the Honda’s of Marquez and Pedrosa, with the Spaniard ending the session in 3rd on the new GSX-RR bike. Espargaro took advantage of the extra-soft tyre option available to Factory teams without a race win since 2013, although he also mentioned that he was happy with his pace on the harder tyres too.
Double MotoGP™ Champion Jorge Lorenzo didn't seem too pleased with his work today, despite finishing in 4th on his Movistar Yamaha YZR-M1. He said that they were having issues with the bike, and it was “floating” around the circuit, relating the problems to the ones they experienced during the test here in Qatar.
CWM LCR´s Cal Crutchlow finished in an impressive 5th after the first practice session as the leading satellite rider, although he admitted he doesn't really look to take anything from the first practice session. He mentioned that he was affected by brake issues once again, but he was adamant that he could go quicker, and would have done if it wasn’t for another rider ruining his flying laps on the last corner. This turned out to be the Avintia Racing Ducati of Mike Di Meglio who was given one penalty point by race direction after the session, for obstructing the racing line.
Danilo Petrucci on the Pramac Ducati said he was “a bit lucky” to finish in 6th, ahead of the Factory Ducati riders, as he managed to put in a new tyre just before the end of the session to allow him to record a quick time. The Italian experienced an issue with his GP14.1 as he was leaving the pits as he was heading out to set a flying lap, and had to run back to his garage to swap machines, going on to set his fastest time on his second bike.
Andrea Dovizioso admitted he struggled to get the same feeling he had during the recent test around the Losail track, and that he actually used both of his bikes with two different set-ups in an effort to improve his pace, as he finished in 7th.
Pramac Racing's Yonny Hernandez ended up just behind factory rider Dovizioso in 8th, and he stated that while he was happy with his performance, he feels that they need to make some improvements to the bike as tomorrow everyone will be faster.
Nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi had a frustrating day, as he ended the session down in 9th place. He said he found it difficult around the Losail circuit as he had a problem with rear grip, although he hopes his team can work on this for tomorrow.
Andrea Iannone rounded out the top ten on the second Factory Ducati, saying the conditions were different from the last time they were here for the test, hence why they could not replicate their impressive pace.
The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha of Pol Espargaro was in 11th place overall, as he used the same tyre for the whole session, ahead of British rider Scott Redding who ended the day in 12th. Redding mentioned that he had experienced some issues under braking, but they had managed to solve them and he is looking forward to pushing on tomorrow.
Bradley Smith said it was great to be back “riding for real”, even if he didn't quite get the result he wanted today as he finished down in 13th, over a second behind Marquez.
The leading Open class rider was Stefan Bradl (+1.296s) in 14th on the Athina Forward Racing machine, finishing just ahead of Karel Abraham. The Octo IodaRacing Team ART bike of Alex De Angelis ended the day in 16th, impressively ahead of the other Factory Suzuki of Maverick Viñales, who experienced some electrical issues with his GSX-RR and had to switch to his second bike, as he was 1.2s slower than his teammate in 17th.
Hector Barbera was in 18th on the Avintia Open Ducati, while Australian rookie Jack Miller (+1.702s) made a solid start to his MotoGP™ career in 19th place, within 1.7 seconds of Marquez.
Frenchman Loris Baz finished in 20th, ahead of the Aspar MotoGP Honda of Nicky Hayden, and Alvaro Bautista on the first of the Aprilias. Eugene Laverty, making his debut in MotoGP™, was just under two seconds off the pace of the leader. The man from Northern Ireland finishing in 23rd, ahead of Avintia Racing’s Mike Di Meglio, and Marco Melandri on the second Aprilia Racing Team Gresini bike in last place (+4.298s).
FP2 starts on Friday at 18:00 local time, with FP3 due to take place at 20:55.