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Qatar MotoGP, Lusail Practice: Raul Fernandez ends Friday as surprise pace setter in Lusail

Gold & Goose

Raul Fernandez was the surprise pace setter at the end of Practice for the Qatar MotoGP as the penultimate round of season kicked off under the floodlights of the Lusail International Circuit.

The Spaniard hit the top of the timesheets during the latter stages of the session on the CryptoData RNF Racing Aprilia to head up Fabio di Giannantonio at the end of Friday's action.

Despite the unfamiliar names at the summit come the end of the session, title contenders Pecco Bagnaia and Jorge Martin - who enter the event split by just 14 points in favour of the former - safely made it through to Q2 directly.


A welcome fillip for the Malaysian team, Fernandez's time of 1m 52.843s would give him a slender 0.049s margin over di Giannantonio, who was the quickest of four Ducati riders to crack the top ten.

On a strong evening for Aprilia, factory riders Maverick Vinales - who set the fastest time only for it to be cancelled by yellow flags - and Aleix Espargaro made it three RS-GPs inside the top five in third and fifth respectively. Splitting the Aprilia pair was top KTM rider Brad Binder in fourth.

Luca Marini rounded out the top six, with Prima Pramac Racing's Martin leading factory stablemate Bagnaia by a mere 0.007s.

Augusto Fernandez flew the flag for GasGas Factory Racing Tech 3 in ninth, with Marc Marquez the only representative from Honda to book his place straight through to Q2.

It means several fancied names will go again in Q1, among them Jack Miller in 11th - the culprit in causing the yellow flag that scuppered Vinales' session-topping effort - Alex Marquez in 12th, Marco Bezzecchi in 15th and Malaysian MotoGP winner Enea Bastianini, the Italian having it all to do after only turning in the 18th fastest lap.

Qatar MotoGP, Lusail International Circuit - Practice Results

2023 Qatar MotoGP - Lusail International Circuit - Practice Results - Round 19 of 20
Pos.NameNat.TeamMotorcycleLap Time
1Raul Fernandez🇪🇦CryptoData RNF RacingAprilia RS-GP1m 52.843
2Fabio di Giannantonio🇮🇹Gresini Racing MotoGPDucati GP221m 52.892
3Maverick Vinales🇪🇦Aprilia RacingAprilia RS-GP1m 52.936
4Brad Binder🇿🇦Red Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM RC161m 52.955
5Aleix Espargaro🇪🇦Aprilia RacingAprilia RS-GP1m 53.033
6Luca Marini🇮🇹Mooney VR46 RacingDucati GP221m 53.094
7Jorge Martin🇪🇦Prima Pramac RacingDucati GP231m 53.195
8Pecco Bagnaia🇮🇹Ducati Lenovo TeamDucati GP231m 53.202
9Augusto Fernandez🇪🇦GasGas Factory Racing Tech3KTM RC161m 53.289
10Marc Marquez🇪🇦Repsol Honda TeamHonda RC213V1m 53.323
11Jack Miller🇦🇺Red Bull KTM Factory RacingKTM RC161m 53.337
12Alex Marquez🇪🇦Gresini Racing MotoGPDucati GP221m 53.561
13Franco Morbidelli🇮🇹Monster Energy YamahaYamaha M11m 53.564
14Pol Espargaro🇪🇦GasGas Factory Racing Tech3KTM RC161m 53.696
15Marco Bezzecchi🇮🇹Mooney VR46 RacingDucati GP221m 53.704
16Johann Zarco🇨🇵Prima Pramac RacingDucati GP231m 53.778
17Joan Mir🇪🇦Repsol Honda TeamHonda RC213V1m 53.921
18Enea Bastianini🇮🇹Ducati Lenovo TeamDucati GP231m 53.937
19Miguel Oliveira🇵🇹CryptoData RNF RacingAprilia RS-GP1m 54.005
20Iker Lecuona🇪🇦LCR Honda CastrolHonda RC213V1m 54.254
21Fabio Quartararo🇨🇵Monster Energy YamahaYamaha M11m 54.260
22Takaaki Nakagami🇯🇵LCR Honda IDEMITSUHonda RC213V1m 54.441

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