2014 Qatar MotoGP FP1 Result: Elder Espargaro Dominates; Satellites Soar

Open class Yamaha rider Aleix Espargaro topped the charts to kick off the 2014 MotoGP season with a dominant time of 1'55.201, nearly half a second faster than second-place rider Alvaro Bautista on a satellite Honda. Another satellite rider, Yamaha's Bradley Smith, came in third, six-tenths back from the elder Espargaro. In fact, the salletite and open class riders dominated FP1 taking seven of the top-ten times. Satellite Ducati rider Andrea Iannone grabbed fourth and Tech 3 Yamaha's Pol Espargaro managed fifth. The fastest factory bike, Dani Pedrosa's Honda, claimed only sixth place at slightly more than a second back from the leader.

In part, this is because only the open class and satellite bikes tested at the Losail Circuit during the off-season and so arrived in Qatar with an approximate setup. But that does not entirely explain the difference in times and certainly doesn't entirely account for Espargaro's pace.

In fact, Espargaro led the timesheet early with a 1'55.855 in the session's first 10 minutes. But then a crash by Yonny Hernandez briefly red-flagged the session. When the riders returned, Espargaro's time still held for much of the session but eventually was eclipsed by both Alvaro Bautista and Bradley Smith with about ten minutes left. Espargaro reclaimed the top spot with a little less than two minutes remaining. He upped it again and never came under threat as FP1 drew to a close. Factory rider Jorge Lorenzo (9th) appeared visibly unhappy with his bike's pace, shaking his head as he entered the pits. Current world champion, Marc Marquez, who broke his leg in the off season, managed only 11th.

Espargaro's pace on the open class Yamaha has been the focus of the entire off-season tests. Unlike Honda, Yamaha's "customer" or non factory bike essentially is the 2013 MotoGP engine, frame and swingarm with the Dorna-mandated electronics. But as an open class, customer bike, it is allowed both a softer tire choice and four additional liters of fuel. The result (at least with Espargaro on board) has been blistering quick in practice. (However, it remains unclear that it will manage the same pace over race distance.) Espargaro's Forward MGM Teammate Colin Edwards also is quicker than he was last year when he rode the Kawasaki-powered CRT bike. Edwards finished in eigth, just a tenth slower than his former Yamaha factory teammate Valentino Rossi who came in seventh fastest.


Pos. No. Rider Bike Time Diff. / Prev.
1 41 Aleix ESPARGARO Forward Yamaha 1'55.201  
2 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA Honda 1'55.667 0.466 / 0.466
3 38 Bradley SMITH Yamaha 1'55.816 0.615 / 0.149
4 29 Andrea IANNONE Ducati 1'55.996 0.795 / 0.180
5 44 Pol ESPARGARO Yamaha 1'56.020 0.819 / 0.024
6 26 Dani PEDROSA Honda 1'56.332 1.131 / 0.312
7 46 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha 1'56.542 1.341 / 0.210
8 5 Colin EDWARDS Forward Yamaha 1'56.626 1.425 / 0.084
9 99 Jorge LORENZO Yamaha 1'56.668 1.467 / 0.042
10 69 Nicky HAYDEN Honda 1'56.670 1.469 / 0.002
11 93 Marc MARQUEZ Honda 1'56.682 1.481 / 0.012
12 6 Stefan BRADL Honda 1'56.726 1.525 / 0.044
13 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW Ducati 1'57.046 1.845 / 0.320
14 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati 1'57.100 1.899 / 0.054
15 68 Yonny HERNANDEZ Ducati 1'57.623 2.422 / 0.523
16 17 Karel ABRAHAM Honda 1'57.779 2.578 / 0.156
17 7 Hiroshi AOYAMA Honda 1'58.182 2.981 / 0.403
18 8 Hector BARBERA Avintia 1'58.394 3.193 / 0.212
19 45 Scott REDDING Honda 1'58.495 3.294 / 0.101
20 63 Mike DI MEGLIO Avintia 1'58.732 3.531 / 0.237
21 9 Danilo PETRUCCI ART 1'59.321 4.120 / 0.589
22 23 Broc PARKES PBM 1'59.328 4.127 / 0.007
  70 Michael LAVERTY PBM    


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BUT ARE YOU F****** SERIOUS!?!?! This is nuts! I know they had the extra test, BUT STILL! I don't care how much extra testing their was if Colin ***** Edwards finishes ahead of Lorenzo, Marquez (injured) and both Ducatis.

is this the end of motoGP as we know it... or the beginning?

I'm not saying AE41 is gonna win the championship or even this race. But i have a hard time chalking up a whole second and a half to Lorenzo over 1 test. It's not like the factory boys haven't been testing (albiet at another track).
Skies not falling but there are some storm clouds looming :)

But no-one expected this? However you look at it; that leading time is fast!

should take a long hard look at what their actually spending money on and researching. AE41 is showing exactly how much of the equation is the rider! He's beating bikes that cost 5 times as much with riders that are paid probably 5 times as much. Sure theres the fuel and the tires, but i think this proves you can have a cost effective series.
Carmelo must be dancing! Meanwhile desks are being flipped at Honda!
I was the first to say not to get excited about AE41s preseason times, but its really hard not to get amped up about this :)

A 2013 spec M1 is hardly a cheap lash up option...... He is riding the wheels of it though which is great!

Hopefully the open class soft tyres can let the race and make this a real spectacle :)

Well done the front 'spec' guys.. It is working up to a point, as the crts wouldn't have been in that position with a year at the track.. Did anyone else get that ducati 2007 feeling??They have an improved bike, extra fuel, better tyres and their own software yet were languishing down in the teens?? I suspect shirt pulling, name calling, and major tears this weekend... If Aleix's tyre goes the distance it could be worse(and surely Ducati and Forward know exactly how far it will go and therefore Yamaha do(Jorge?), it's one of two advantages).. Hugely underwhelming.... I yearn for the days of ignorance where we thought everyone was on a level playing field...

I have to think that a lot of this is down to the tires. Dirty track makes it harder to keep the heat in the harder compound, the soft that the Open bikes can use may have made all the difference.
Gonna be a very interesting couple of days...

What were lap times last year? Are the factory guys running close to those times and Espagaro is faster than that or is everyone off last years pace?

Just about at the Fri/Sat times of 2013.

The 1.55 race lap set by Stoner was in 2008...
Dirty track, testing done by others this year & soft tyres...Wait for Fri & Sat

The tires are definitely a factor but look at this way:

This throws a big fat f'in wrench into Honda's bs electronic wizardry excuses for their bikes in the series. AE is running a 24 liter setup with rudimentary electronics (compared to the Factory software of Honda/Yamaha) and is stomping everyone on it. Someone tell me why the series needs to be reduced to 20 liters again or need such complex software?

AE is single-handedly proving Honda and Yamaha bollocks. That code and software is just for them to maintain a competitive advantage and provide a barrier to entry for other manus. If the MSMA controls the rulebook they control who competes and who doesn't. At this rate I hope AE wins the g-damning championship!!!!!!!

It will get equaled out once the factory coders manipulate the 1's and 0's, and the track gets gripper. For now I enjoy and imagine a series where EVERYONE has 24L, 12 engines, and reduced electronics. That would mean some big, big fights at the front for the top step and for the podium places. A more competitive series means more riders duking it out at the front and that's what I and most fans want. Software and fuel limits be damned!

It is fun to see the top 10 shake up but the top 5 riders had 3 days of practice and set up on this track just 2 weeks ago. It's not like just a couple of the factory bikes are struggling with grip and early adjustments... they all are. I would bet the house that times are drastically different tomorrow and positions more closely reflect what we will see the rest of the weekend. Aleix may be fast this year but remember - we haven't even gone race distance. Yes his testing times and race simulation were fast but Sunday it will be a different story. Let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Disclaimer: I am rooting for AE this year. I like him. He works hard, seems to love what he does and also seems to bring a real family vibe to his garage (and not just because his brother is also in the paddock).

Not only that, but i seriously doubt Honda is going to have 25-30 million dollars tied up in riders salaries. Marquez will demand and get money offered to Stoner a couple of years ago. They will then re-sign Pedrosa for 3-4 million a year giving them 2 of the top 3 riders in the series. Honda will pretend to be interested in Lorenzo to get Yamaha to expend huge resources to keep him. I predict your Honda and Yamaha factory squads will be the same next year as they are this year

...Cal still a couple seconds down...

Don't Panic. This is not the new status quo. This is only FP1. By QP1, you will see another beast entirely.

I mean, really... you only have to see Edwards and Hayden ahead of Marquez to write off a lot of these results.

Taking nothing away from Esp, Sr. He is going to be a celebrity this year.

What happens if Aleix somehow actually wins this race? The fans will be elated I'm sure, but what actions will Yamaha, and more intriguingly, Honda take? What will their reaction be? I also have to wonder how Carmelo feels about all of this at the moment.

"Now this is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning." Winston Churchill

Now we have started the season. Now we shall see where it takes us. No one can predict what will come to pass in MotoGP 2014. That is why we race.