Aleix Espargaro made waves on the opening day of MotoGP testing in Qatar, claiming the fastest time on his Open class Yamaha
Despite the absence of the Honda, Yamaha and Ducati teams, who all concluded their pre-season preparations at Phillip Island earlier this week, Espargaro’s effort was still noteworthy, considering four Factory class machines were present at Losail.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Bradley Smith dominated much of the evening’s running, but Espargaro gradually closed the gap before snatching the fastest time in the last hour.
The Spaniard’s time of 1m 55.386s was 0.253s clear of Smith in second, and notably faster the quickest lap time set in last year’s grand prix.
Smith’s rookie team-mate Pol Espargaro, Aleix’s younger brother, was 0.686s behind in third, followed by Gresini Honda’s Alvaro Bautista and LCR Honda’s Stefan Bradl, who both set the exact same fastest lap time to finish 0.695s adrift in fourth.
Pramac Ducati’s Andrea Iannone was the next best Open class rider in fifth (+1.394s), followed by Espargaro’s team-mate Colin Edwards (+1.575s) and Iannone’s team-mate Yonny Hernandez (+1.932s) in sixth and seventh place respectively.
Aspar’s Nicky Hayden was ninth (+2.188s) and Gresini rookie Scott Redding was tenth (+2.536s) - again not an especially good result for the Production Honda riders.
Testing continues over the weekend.
Day 1 Times
1. Aleix Espargaro NGM Forward Racing 1m55.386s
2. Bradley Smith Monster Yamaha Tech 3 +0.253s
3. Pol Espargaro Monster Yamaha Tech 3 +0.686s
4. Alvaro Bautista Go&Fun Honda Gresini +0.695s
5. Stefan Bradl LCR Honda MotoGP +0.695s
6. Andrea Iannone Pramac Racing +1.394s
7. Colin Edwards NGM Forward Racing +1.575s
8. Yonny Hernandez Pramac Racing +-55.385s
9. Nicky Hayden Drive M7 Aspar +-55.385s
10. Scott Redding Go&Fun Honda Gresini +-55.385s
11. Hiroshi Aoyama Drive M7 Aspar (RCV1000R) +2.765s
12. Hector Barbera Avintia Racing +3.117s
13. Karel Abraham Cardion AB Motoracing +3.447s
14. Broc Parkes Paul Bird Motorsport +3.735s
15. Mike Di Meglio Avintia Racing +3.908s
16. Danilo Petrucci IodaRacing Project +3.972s
17. Michael Laverty Paul Bird Motorsport (PBM-ART) +4.669s