Britain’s Sam Lowes ended the opening day’s Moto2 action at the Qatar MotoGP round less than half a tenth behind fastest man Alex Marquez.
Marquez started his season in perfect form by ending day one just 0.038 in front of the returning Lowes (Swiss Innovative Investors) and 0.053 ahead of Francesco Bagnaia (SKY Racing Team VR46), with both riders having positive starts to their weekend as they seek to mount a title challenge this season.
Following a tricky campaign last season for both Marcel Schrötter and Dynavolt Intact GP, 2018 has started far better for both parties as the German concluded the day fourth quickest, with the fastest man in FP1, Lorenzo Baldassari (Pons HP40), close behind to complete the top five.
As with Moto3, the times in the intermediate class came tumbling down as the track temperatures dropped during the second session, highlighting the unique characteristics of the Losail International Circuit.
Reigning Moto3 World Champion and class rookie Joan Mir (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) managed 13th and was less than one-hundredth clear of another champion of the lightweight class, Danny Kent (Beta Tools – Speed Up Racing).
Elsewhere, America’s Joe Roberts and South Africa’s Steven Odendaal (NTS RW Racing GP) enjoyed a positive start to life with their new NTS chassis in the intermediate class, as they placed 22nd and 26th respectively. Whilst on the other side of the coin, it was a difficult start to the season for 2017 sensation Mattia Pasini after the Italian failed to improve on his time set in the morning and was classified just 24th.