MotoGP set for closest 'ever' year as season starts in Qatar

Lloyd Doyle
March 18, 2018

Andrea Dovizioso topped the timesheets in both free practice sessions as the 2018 FIM MotoGP World Championship got underway in the Qatari desert.

That remained the time to beat until Suzuki's Alex Rins shot to the top with back-to-back fastest laps, a 1m54.997s followed by a 1m54.985s as FP2 entered its final 10 minutes.

The current MotoGP world champion, Spain's Marc Marquez, came in fourth on Saturday with a time of one minute and 55.750 second, while Dovizioso came in seventh with a time of one minute and 55.980 seconds.

Italian Danilo Petrucci was third on the grid, 0.005 slower than Marquez, as the best of the Ducati riders on a non-works Pramac team bike. The Italian had hovered at the top of the standings after his first time attack, but then he was unable to repeat the performance on the second useful lap; in any case, Dovi can smile wider than teammate Jorge Lorenzo, forced to settle for ninth place, more than seven tenths behind the leader.

We told you Johann Zarco will be force to reckon with this season and the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha rider has made a brilliant start to the season.

The second Movistar Yamaha of Maverick Vinales will have to fight for his Q2 slot in tomorrow's warmer FP3.

Mechanical issues for KTM duo Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro left them 20th and 22nd, with Alvaro Bautista sandwiched between them, and Takaaki Nakagami - who crashed in FP4 along with Espargaro - and Xavier Simeon behind.

Only the top ten from combined free practice times progress directly to Q2 and with track conditions set to be hotter in tomorrow's FP3, it could be hard for the likes of Vinales to progress.

Other reports by Iphone Fresh

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