MotoGP: More From The Qatar Airways Grand Prix Of Qatar

by | Mar 9, 2024 | Aprilia, Ducati, Honda, KTM, motoGP News, Yamaha

An unexpected rainstorm disrupted Friday evening’s activities at Lusail International Circuit, but the first official timed sessions of 2024 left some looking forward to Saturday’s qualifying and sprint race while others had work to do overnight.

Defending and two-time MotoGP World Champion Francesco Bagnaia, who dominated pre-season testing, was only 10th after the first practice session, and a wet surface meant no one improved their lap times in FP2. Bagnaia’s practice start was a disaster, with his 2024 factory Desmosedici slewing sideways and leaving a big, drag race-style stripe of rubber – not an effective launch for a modern MotoGP machine.

Rookie Pedro Acosta pushed his GASGAS Tech3 machine hard, sliding sideways hard enough to launch his feet off the pegs while saving the bike on his elbow. Undaunted, Acosta set the third-quickest time in both dry and wet sessions, faster than the factory KTM riders.

Raul Fernandez Qatar FP2
Raul Fernandez (25) took the Trackhouse Racing Aprilia to sixth in the wet. Photo by Michael Gougis.

The new American Trackhouse Racing team found that the 2023-spec Aprilia RS-GP performed well in the hands of Raul Fernandez, who was sixth in the wet. Fernandez was impressive in the off-season, and Fernandez outperformed many of the factory riders in difficult conditions on Friday night.

Johann Zarco FP1 Qatar
Johann Zarco (5) was the fastest on a Japanese machine on Friday, finishing sixth in the dry FP1 session. Photo by Michael Gougis.

The Japanese manufacturers continued to struggle, with Johann Zarco’s sixth place in the dry FP1 an unexpected high point for the Castrol Honda LCR squad as the best of the Honda RC213Vs. New recruit Alex Rins was the quickest Yamaha in FP1, finishing 15th, but he dropped to the bottom of the scoring sheets in the wet FP2.

Joe Roberts FP1 Qatar
Joe Roberts (16) fought technical gremlins in FP1 and rain kept him in the garage during FP2. Photo by Michael Gougis.

American Joe Roberts struggled with technical issues during the first practice session and the team, like most others, chose to sit out the wet second session.

Marc Marquez FP2 Qatar
He said he needed to rebuild his confidence, to learn how to adapt from the Honda RC213V to the very different Ducati Desmosedici GP23. Then Marc Marquez went out in the wet and went faster than anyone. Photo by Michael Gougis.


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