Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro both enjoyed a successful and competitive start today for the first practice session of the 2014 MotoGP World Championship at the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar.
Smith and Espargaro with their 2014 specification Yamaha YZR-M1’s both finished inside the top 5 and confidently set fast laps times on the opening day. The red flag was deployed mid-way through the session which delayed the free practice briefly; otherwise the track conditions were dry although lacking traction due to a dirty surface.
Bradley Smith produced a superb performance to outline his firm intentions for the 2014 season. The young British rider produced a best lap time of 1:55:816, and completed the first practice of 2014 in 3rd place and just over half a second from the leading time. Having spent the winter test period experimenting with varying aspects of his Yamaha YZR-M1 MotoGP bike, Smith opened his season very positively, with his free practice time today half a second quicker than his qualifying time from last year.
Pol Espargaro rode a strong first practice session to finish within the top 5 of the MotoGP grid. The young Spanish rider, who produced the fastest top speed of 346 Km/h at the Losail International Circuit, completed a best personal lap time of 1:56.020 which resulted in 5th position. Despite his rookie status and riding with a healing collarbone, the reigning Moto2 World Champion impressively completed the practice session less than a second off the fastest lap time.
Bradley Smith – 3rd – 1:55:816:
“Today was a really good start for us. The track conditions were different to when we tested here, probably due to a sandstorm which happened recently. However, the grip improved during the session and I was able to do 1:55 lap times again. As I could keep this rhythm quite easily I decided that it wasn’t worth pushing to the absolute limit, as it was still a bit too risky with the conditions, so I will wait until tomorrow as the grip will improve for sure. Of course, I am happy with 3rd and we are close to Bautista who is on the same tyres. Anyway I’m confident that we will get closer to the top as the track gets better, but the 3 days of testing has definitely helped us. Our aim is to stay in front of the factory bikes, for as long as possible”.
Pol Espargaro – 5th – 1:56.020:
“I am happy with the performance I made today. My shoulder was still hurting a little but I can ride which I am pleased about. It was a bit painful on the straight when the bike is moving, and also in the long left corner when I had to lean down the outside of the fairing. The track conditions were also a bit different to the test we did here; it’s colder and there is less grip. I didn’t want to ride at 100% because of this as I think tomorrow will be better for traction after the track has been cleaned a bit more. The factory bikes will catch up, but I’m sure we can improve as well and I am just really pleased that the season finally started. At the end a top 5 result during my first ever MotoGP session is not bad at all”.
Monster Yamaha Tech3