2014 Qatar MotoGP FP3 Result: Aleix Espargaro Upsets The Order

Aleix Espargaro extended his long-term lease at the top of the Free Practice timesheet Friday with fast lap of 1'54.773, a time that left him nearly half of a second clear of the field. The satellite bikes of Andrea Iannone (Ducati, 2nd) and Alvaro Bautista (Honda, 3rd) rounded out the top three during a qualifying session that saw both a brief sprinkle of rain and a five-time Qatar winner languishing until late.

Factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso finished the free practice as the top factory rider with a fourth-fastest time.  Current world champion Marc Marquez continued his improving form with a fifth. Bradley Smith, who suffered a massive highside in the middle of the session, managed a sixth followed by the factory Yamaha of Jorge Lorenzo.

Lorenzo, a five-time winner here, lingered in 11th for much of the session until he made a strong run with three minutes remaining to put him into seventh place. Stefan Bradl, Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa completed the top ten and now can wait for the second qualifying practice and a chance at the pole position.

Although it does not look like much of a chance, given the gap at this point. Aleix Espargaro, on his open class Yamaha, is taking advantage of the extra fuel and soft tires to set blistering laps well ahead of the field. But the race is expected to be a different story as the soft option allowed for open class riders does not appear to be able to last an entire race. Espargaro's likely race pace -- he tested the harder race tire during the free practice -- is much more in line with the top seven riders.

Riders 11 through 23, will ride in the first Qualifying Practice early Saturday evening. The top two riders from Q1 will advance into Q2. (All of the riders will participate in Saturday's FP4 but the results there don't affect qualifying.)


Pos. No. Rider Bike Time Diff. / Prev.
1 41 Aleix ESPARGARO Forward Yamaha 1'54.773  
2 29 Andrea IANNONE Ducati 1'55.186 0.413 / 0.413
3 19 Alvaro BAUTISTA Honda 1'55.240 0.467 / 0.054
4 4 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati 1'55.250 0.477 / 0.010
5 93 Marc MARQUEZ Honda 1'55.446 0.673 / 0.196
6 38 Bradley SMITH Yamaha 1'55.474 0.701 / 0.028
7 99 Jorge LORENZO Yamaha 1'55.495 0.722 / 0.021
8 6 Stefan BRADL Honda 1'55.676 0.903 / 0.181
9 46 Valentino ROSSI Yamaha 1'55.702 0.929 / 0.026
10 26 Dani PEDROSA Honda 1'55.754 0.981 / 0.052
11 44 Pol ESPARGARO Yamaha 1'55.793 1.020 / 0.039
12 35 Cal CRUTCHLOW Ducati 1'56.013 1.240 / 0.220
13 69 Nicky HAYDEN Honda 1'56.357 1.584 / 0.344
14 5 Colin EDWARDS Forward Yamaha 1'56.373 1.600 / 0.016
15 68 Yonny HERNANDEZ Ducati 1'56.633 1.860 / 0.260
16 7 Hiroshi AOYAMA Honda 1'56.939 2.166 / 0.306
17 45 Scott REDDING Honda 1'56.997 2.224 / 0.058
18 17 Karel ABRAHAM Honda 1'57.345 2.572 / 0.348
19 23 Broc PARKES PBM 1'57.665 2.892 / 0.320
20 63 Mike DI MEGLIO Avintia 1'58.204 3.431 / 0.539
21 8 Hector BARBERA Avintia 1'58.219 3.446 / 0.015
22 70 Michael LAVERTY PBM 1'58.378 3.605 / 0.159
23 9 Danilo PETRUCCI ART 1'58.651 3.878 / 0.273


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Judging from body language, Jorge Lorenzo is really pissed off, and Bridgestone is the target of his anger. I'll bet that any minute now Lin Jarvis will be telling Jorge to "ride more like Ben Spies."

OK, that is a joke, but it is reported that Jarvis told Spies he needed to adopt Lorenzo's cornering style, back in 2012, when the Bridgestones were rewarding that high-corner-speed style.

Two guys also doing an excellent job. Interestingly Hayden is now just over half a second behind Bradl on near 2 minute lap racetrack, perhaps now that the open Honda is more dialled in its showing the reports of it being a half a second slower than factory weren't far from the truth.

Brock Parkes is the leading 'production' bike, very good considering it's his first race.

Now who said Aleix chose a wrong bike from last year, admitted! this guy is phenomenal!

Other than the obvious - I might also get excited to see Nicky and Colin banging elbows even if they're in the back of the pack...

Given Bautista’s reputation for knocking people off. The real championship contenders are going to be a bit nervous, if the grid ends up looking like this and he is in front of them! Because in the end the likes of Bautista, Iannone, etc, will probably end up being passed at least by the two works Hondas and maybe one or more works Yamaha bikes.

Where did you get the silly notion that Bautista has a "reputation for knocking people off"? Looking at it without yellow-tinted glasses there has been exactly one incident in Bautista's entire MotoGP career where he has taken another rider out through his fault alone, namely in Assen 2012 where he collected Lorenzo after braking way too late into the first corner.

The incident at Mugello last year which got everyone's knickers in a twist solely because the other rider involved had the last name Rossi was deemed by just about every rider and expert that was asked - including Rossi - as a simple case of two riders wanting the same piece of tarmac and neither carrying the blame for the collision. Race incident, case closed. Moving on.

I understand that plenty of people didn't give a hoot about expert or even rider observations back then or in fact ever, but it's worth repeating in the face of silly accusations from specific fronts of the media and fan spectrum which then somehow morph into facts if they are shouted loud enough and for long enough, eventually resulting in statements like yours that Bautista is allegedly prone to take other riders out. Take a look at the actual statistics and you'll find much worse offenders even on the MotoGP grid. And you don't even have to look very far...

I believe Bautista did it in other cases. I recall a couple of cases when, while trying to overtake, he slammed into the other rider rear wheel.
One of them if Assen 2009, with Aoyama. You can find pics on internet, amazing that Aoyama did not fall and won. I could recall the other one.

Not that this changes the stats.

Marco Simoncelli was well known for doing the exact same thing, and beloved for it. In fact he did it to Ayoma (rookie Season Assen or Singapore), Jorge and Dani. But somehow Bautista gets blamed for the same behaviour?

Bautista is defiantly getting judged under yellow tinted glasses by the media pundits.

The insane amount of detestation people have of Bautista, since the Mugello incident, is frightening and totally disproportionate.

How do you think he got the name "Bargey Bautista"?
Anyway, I've always liked him for being bargey.

Can somebody explain...

1. AE41 on top (Open)
2. Iannone (Open) ahead of Bautista (Satellite, aka Factory)
3. Dovi(Open/Factory2) ahead of Rossi (Factory)
4. MM93 (previously injured) ahead of DP26
5. Smith(Satellite) ahead of JL99(Factory)

1. Very good rider, quite good bike, open category
2. Soft tyre
3. Soft tyre
4. Pedrosa's worst track
5. Smith tested there a couple weeks ago. Had 3 8-hour days to optimize settings. Lorenzo's getting there slowly. Only had 3 45-min sessions.

An additional factor for #5 is that Lorenzo has struggled with the new Bridgestone rear tire - it doesn't suit his particular and unique riding style at all. Smith does not share Lorenzo's style, and isn't as hamstrung by the change.

So, the difference is that much that it benefits Smith (Rookie last year) vs Lorenzo (2x WC)?

I expected JL99 to be in a higher position in this FP3 session.

and also not underestimating Smith's excellent job, especially after suffering that massive high-side early in FP3. Man, that was scary! I mean they are all doing an excellent job, and all the explanations above are simplistic, to say the least.

The Open class (is that still the name?) bikes get different tyres to the Factory bikes and as Mr Emmett points out, Aleix is likely to be running at a slower pace in the race. That said. how much different are the qualifying tyres the Factory bikes will get to use in Qualifying? If they ar, then there could be quite a change in this order. Then again, do the Open class bikes also get a softer Q tyre?

By the way, were Colin Edwards and Aleix Espargaro running the same rubber on their Forward Yamahas? If so, then Colin looks as if he is on the Backwards Yamaha...

Of course there are no qualifying tires in MotoGP. The 'open' bikes will run the softer option that they have over the 'factory' bikes. It's all a huge sham and I wish a wicked witch would land in Qatar and turn Dorna into frogs for their sin of creating this contrived welfare racing.

That is a good way to put it. I have been trying to figure out how to describe this sham... and "welfare racing" suits it well. Wait, that sounds bad. How about "speed redistribution"? It's all in the name of equality...

What you call the present state of affairs in MotoGP, welfare racing, I call the past duopoly racing. Plus, the welfare recipients dont have race pace, so it still will be a factory Honda or Yamaha winning.

I think we also need to appreciate how remarkable of a job Aleix's team is doing too. I mean, this is not a factory nor satellite, and they've managed to give him the bike he can do what he is capable of. I can't imagine it's an easy job and they are nailing it.

He's proven an awesome pilot in the last few years.(who said the Ducs a career killer). He is riding last years M1 though. That said, I think he's a serious contender for the title in 2014. He's pulling stuff off like MM did last year.


I've been thinking Aleix would be at or near the front this year.

The sad reality is CEII is looking pretty old and slow considering he is on the same bike with the same team.

He comments about Aleix being young and full of 'piss and vinegar' seems odd. Is he essentially saying he himself is too old and afraid to take these bikes to their absolute limit?

I like Colin, but maybe it's time to pack things up and head home... It's actually embarrassing

AE 41 is using the FTR body package and CE has M1 bodywork on?

Wont change piss 'n vinegar in the corners but I can't help wonder if there is a kph or two difference on the straight. Does anyone know the top speed difference between the two bikes?

EDIT. AE 1.2 kph faster. But the impressive bit is AE is only 14th fastest overall (fastest is Dovi at 342.3 kph)

Some VERY intriguing results thus far! However, I am still of the opinion that things will not stay this way for long - certainly not in the race.

The biggest factor on my mind is - how will the softer option tires hold up during the race? If they do hold up, we will have some very upset factory teams. If they don't hold up, then the order may look more typical. I do think a few riders still have a bit more in the bag.

Why would BS make a tyre that is meant to be better for the spec teams to give them a leg up only too take the advantage away after a few laps..? In 2012 Stoner was struggling 3rd race in a row at LS, of all places, he gambled on the soft tyre that wasn't supposed to go race distance. He won the race at a canter. The rest of the season everyone used it nearly every race.. be very surprised if BS made a 'race tyre' that couldn't make it too the end.. Though Qatar is abrasive..

It's a good point. If Aleix can get away at the front when the lights go out, and can run his favoured lines, he might just be able to manage any tyre degradation right through to the podium.

Those last two sessions were jam packed with the unexpected. It almost seems like Ezpeleta and the rule makers planned on this happening at the first round. The lower echelons getting time and setup on a track that the Factory was not at. Was wondering how those guys would stand up next to the factory guys. Now I know. Aleix is still out front. Still think by race time he may have some problems, but DAMN!!! He is pretty consistent this weekend. Showing that it is not all the bike as many people love to scream and shout. Still think come race time the 3 that always show up will be there at the end when it all counts...still though, I am rooting for Aleix, just to shake things up a little. Cannot wait to watch qualifying.

Aleix,Andrea,Alvaro and Andrea. What happened to Calvin? Not much I guess. Gigi playing a hyper quick game of chess and rightly so. One would expect open bikes to cause a huge upset but I don't think so.
The current world champion Marc Marquez, judging by the last session is already stuck in the pit of his own bloody mindedness and to hell with the injury.
I watched this bloke in Red Bull, 125, M2 and GP. Looking for good points QATAR quoth he. If he gets a sniff and feels okay, the rest can kiss 2014 goodbye.
And that has naught to do with the rules and HRC. Like his predecessor at HRC, he just rides the wheels off the electronics, rubber, suspension and chassis.
Crazy Joe and Dovi are the picks to upset the weekend.
Gigi needs to flag them back to 4th and 5th respectively on the last lap to avoid GPC sanctions, not that Ducati are bothered anyway. I hope they start the race with 22 litres only and limit the desmo to 13000rpm. Hey! They have to accommodate the asthmatic Honda/Yamaha production bikes in the interests of fair play. Valve springs and pneumatic GP exclusivity for the road?

One simple question, will really Aleix run to win and then be forced to change category after the first race ? His team may ask him to target 3rd place so they can enjoy a few more races in Open category.

Espargaro is on an Open entry bike. He can win every race this season, and the rules for his team do not change.

If I'm understanding things correctly, for this season Ducati is the only factory affected by the "Factory 2" rules.

If you discount the soft tyre as not being able to go the distance and then consider that in practice everyone has lots of fuel, but come race day and after a dozen or more laps flat out up to 215mph down the straight the open bikes will, in my opinion, leave the factory bikes sipping their scant petrol tanks in their dessert dust.

stv21, it seems in your efforts to defend Bautista, you're leaving out an incident or two. I distinctly recall Alvaro, on his Suzuki MotoGP bike, cleaning out both factory Ducatis in the first turn of the season-ending race a couple years ago, I believe.

Bautista claimed innocence but watching the on-board showed him into turn one way over his head, still accelerating when everyone around him was on the brakes and knocking Nicky Hayden and, I believe Rossi, into the kitty litter.

Sometimes the reputation for knocking people down is a deserved one and I think in Bautista's case it is.

re: Sir B; Interesting. My understanding was that he spent a portion FP3 on the soft and switched to the race compound where he was nearly as quick but more in line with the rest of the pack. Regardless, he did put in more laps at or below the 1'55s than anyone else. And if he did it on the same compound he will use in the race it's going to make for an interesting Sunday. (Less interesting if you happen to be a factory Yamaha rider.) 

The laps I saw him do so far were all medium option tires. Remember it is color coded real easy like this year so we can stop guessing and start knowing what they are on.

But I haven't watched all of the first three practices yet.

Aleix is fast, we already knew that... but consider the interesting fact: Aleix has one World Championship podium. Just one! Little Bro has 15 GP wins. Aleix is very, very hungry indeed after racing around on the CRT Tricycles for too-damn-long.

Let's wait until the race is over, before we see what's what.I just hope everyone stays on two wheels so we can get a good picture.

Even though all the rules shenanigans over the winter has seemed like a major facepalm...the ultimate object is to even the field out. Less Processional racing simply can't be a bad thing for the game. HRC, with the Supernova that is MM93 under contract, is not going to walk away from Motogp over all this. Marquez is massive for Honda's global brand for now, and most likley for many years to come, if they can keep him.

Expect more rule changes for 2015 to even things out even further, before the standard electronics package is shoved into teams garages the year after as the final Cherry on top. The game is changing, I think for the better - at least, for teams with less money, and for the people around the Globe who watch and love racing. Expect the factory teams to keep moaning loud and long and if Aleix continues to pants Rossi and Lorenzo, not to mention Smith and his own little Bro, Lin Jarvis' bleating could reach almost the dizzy heights that Nakamoto's has.

PS - leave Alvaro alone ! Giving an example from 2009 is plain ridiculous - dude, that's 5 years ago. You only have to look at MM93 in recent years on GP and moto2 if you want someone with a rep as a barger. but would we want Racing without him - Hell No.

If AEs hoses the other Yamahas on Sunday (which even without getting carried away, does seem possible), given recent form I'd be surprised if Dorna / MSMA / GP Commission / etc does not roll out another set of new rules before round 2. That, or Espargaro's machine mysteriously becomes less competitive before the next round.

But then, perhaps with this open category that is a thing of the past? Does the Forward Yam package come with a factory technician to 'optimise' the performance like the Satellite teams (read: keep them behind the factory bikes)?

Maybe the Forward team has proper control over the performance of the machine and this is the real watershed moment where the false performance indexing which has happened since the rise of the electronics is finally loosened.

Finally, I'd just like to say AEs is earning every bit of the attention he's getting right now. He has comprehensively ridden above his bike for the last couple of years, and is still doing so now. The only shame is that the other Forward bike was wasted on Edwards.

I understand Ducati and Forward doing better than maybe they would be expected to do, but I'm still having a difficult time understanding why the satellite bikes are topping the factory guys as well.

In other words, I guess it makes perverted sense for Espargaro and Dovisioso to be at the pointy end, what with soft tires and more fuel (although I don't see why extra fuel would be anything but a handicap over a single fast lap in a practice session), but why in the world would Bautista be ahead of Marquez and Pedrosa? And what Twilight Zone are we witnessing where Bradley Smith is besting both Lorenzo and Rossi on a dry track? If I understand the rules correctly, all of those riders are on the same tires with the same fuel limits, so what gives? Why the lack of performance from the factory teams?

I have one theory: Five engines. I wonder if the factory teams are running a weaker state of tune than the satellite teams in order to preserve the engines for the season. The satellite teams might be more willing to trade longevity for a little time in the spotlight. What satellite team wouldn't trade a front row start or a podium for start on the back row?

It will be interesting to see what happens in qualifying, as it's possibly the factory teams press the magic button that brings on another 500 RPM. Also, I'm guessing the factory bikes haven't spent much time on the soft tires. It'll definitely be interesting tomorrow.

The soft tyre is not available to the factory riders... If I read it right.
Why would Dorna create a level playing field?

I won't waste any time to argue with such a comment, Catalunya and Barcelona being the same race just to start with but the hypocrisy is strong here when Bautista's style is the one that most closely resembles that of Marco Simoncelli.