Results and summary of qualifying for the Moto3 class at Lusail:
Conditions at the start of day 2 were pretty windy, quite overcast and definitely not as hot as you’d usually expect at Losail, so everyone kept a close eye on the timesheets in case there was a chance to threaten what appeared like a pretty secure top 10 on Friday evening. And although there wasn’t significant progress made throughout the session, most riders were not willing to risk by skipping the traditional FP3 shootout.
The intermediate class got a windy start to day 2 in Qatar, bringing a flurry of yellow flags at the beginning of FP3, followed by a bit of a lull in the action and then a 10-minute attempt to challenge the combined standings. Sam Lowes was one of the few riders to improve early on and the Marc VDS man took over top spot in FP3 in its closing stages, but it wasn’t enough to demote the Red Bull KTM Ajo duo from the top of the combined standings, where Augusto Fernandez led from Pedro Acosta.
The warm and windy morning in Qatar didn’t leave much room for improvement for the lightweight class but there was still time to be found in the short time attack at the end of FP3. Dennis Foggia was one of the first riders to improve and the Italian led the way for most of the session with a decent advantage. Ayumu Sasaki looked like his only challenger, as he climbed from outside the top 20 at the chequered flag, but some late yellow flags caught him out and his session topping time got cancelled, demoting him back into Q1.
Testing is all well and good, but at last, we have real, actual data from a race track on a bona fide race weekend. All 24 bikes on the track at the same time, trying to figure out as much as possible in two short 45 minute sessions. No running separately, or trying to figure out how the conditions for the 8-lap run done at 11am compare to the 12-lap run at 2pm, or the 7-lap run at 5pm.
The first day at Qatar may have been genuine competition, but the picture was also confused by the schedule. With FP1 at 1:40pm, in the heat of the day, and FP2 shortly after sunset, at 6pm, conditions were completely different, the air temperature 7°C lower, and the track a whole 16°C cooler.
"Well, for sure now it is hard to see who has the better pace than the other because we don’t have the normal day schedule," Miguel Oliveira reflected after the first day."The hour is not that different but for the temperature and the wind it changes quite a lot."
Alex Rins has topped the first day of practice at Qatar, topping the timesheets in FP2. The Suzuki Ecstar rider deposed Marc Marquez on his final lap, beating the Repsol Honda rider by just over three hundredths of a second. Joan Mir finished off a good day for Suzuki, taking third spot and putting both bikes through to Q2, and showing a strong turn of speed along Qatar's kilometer-long straight.
The dominance of the Red Bull KTM Ajo team in Moto2 continues. After topping the timesheets this morning, Augusto Fernandez was fastest in FP2 as well. Second was his rookie teammate, Pedro Acosta, making good on his preseason form. Marcel Schrotter was an impressive third, just over a tenth of second behind Fernandez despite breaking his hand just a couple of weeks ago. Celestino Vietti put the VR46 team into fourth, ahead of Aron Canet and Ai Ogura.
Izan Guevara has topped the timesheets at the end of the first day of the Qatar GP for the Moto3 class. The GasGas Aspar rider pulled out a big lead of over four tenths of a second over John McPhee on the Sterilgarda Husqvarna. Tatsuki Suzuki took the third spot on the Le0pard Honda, a tenth of a second behind McPhee and a few hundredths ahead of a gaggle of riders including Sergio Garcia, Andrea Migno, Jaume Masia, and Carlos Tatay.
The premier class provided a good distraction at Losail, with all the shiny new machinery out in action and the timesheets as jumbled as ever. Although a hot FP1 hierarchy might not mean much come Sunday, KTM led the way as Brad Binder stole top spot at the chequered flag by five hundredths of a second. Honda also got its fair share under the spotlight, with Takaaki Nakagami as their main actor in second position and the rest of their riders all making it into the top 10.
Intermediate class riders returned to work officially in a hot afternoon at Losail and no one would have been surprised to see a Red Bull KTM Ajo machine at the top of the timesheets for most of FP1, with new recruit Augusto Fernandez in the limelight until the pace hotted up for the final handful of minutes. Several challengers showed their intentions with red patches flashing on the timing screens but Fernandez fought back to retain top spot by a tenth of a second.