Motorcycling - Qatar MotoGP test: Espargaro close to pole pace

Forward Yamaha’s Aleix Espargaro ended the three-day Qatar MotoGP test at the top of the timesheets and was only two-tenths off Jorge Lorenzo’s pole record with his 1’54.874 set early in today’s session.

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Motorcycling - Qatar MotoGP test: Espargaro close to pole pace
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Qatar MotoGP test: Espargaro close to pole pace

The Spaniard held off a charge by brother Pol on the Monster Yamaha and his team-mate, Britain’s Bradley Smith, who were both inside two-tenths slower, with Espargaro only 0.033s in arrears but crashed at turn six and has been taken to hospital with a suspected broken collarbone. Smith also fell from his YZR-M1 but escaped unscathed.

The Yamaha lockout of the top three will not please Honda one bit as the two satellite HRC machines of Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista were four tenths slower than the Open class M1 of Espargaro.

Colin Edwards again chipped a few tenths off his previous day’s best and ends preseason lapping around a second slower than his Forward Racing colleague Espargaro. The experienced Texan puts the time difference down to riding style and aims to adapt to a Yamaha machine different to that which he has previously ridden.

The top ten was rounded out by Drive M7 Aspar colleagues Nicky Hayden (+1.399s) and Hiroshi Aoyama (2.132s) on their ‘Open’ Honda RCV1000R machines. Hayden made a 0.65s improvement in outright pace on the final day and was generally pleased with his rhythm over race distance, but wants more competitiveness for Grand Prix competition.

Scott Redding (GO&FUN Honda Gresini), Hector Barbera (Avintia Racing), Karel Abraham (Cardion AB Motoracing), Mike Di Meglio (Avintia Racing), Danilo Petrucci (IodaRacing Project) and Paul Bird Motorsport teammates Michael Laverty and Broc Parkes featured in positions 11 to 17 respectively

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