until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


Fernandez fastest, lap record deleted in nervy Qatar practice

by Valentin Khorounzhiy
3 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

RNF Aprilia rider Raul Fernandez topped the second MotoGP practice session of the Qatar weekend, as both of the leading title contenders booked Q2 spots despite a nervy end to the session.

Key moments

  • Vinales' record lap deleted
  • Martin and Bagnaia avoid Q1
  • Yellow flags compromise several riders

With the repaved track surface at the Lusail venue getting cleaner and cleaner through the day, both Fernandez and fellow sophomore rider Fabio Di Giannantonio flirted with setting a new lap record early on in the session's 'second-half period' usually reserved for qualifying simulations.

Neither quite pulled it off, with Fernandez's 1m52.843s ultimately seven hundredths short of Pecco Bagnaia's record-setting pole time from 2021.

And while this was in the end surpassed by long-time session leader Maverick Vinales, the works Aprilia rider had that laptime deleted due to yellow flags.

Vinales therefore ended up third, still safely making it to Q2 behind Fernandez and Di Giannantonio.

The only other rider to log a sub-1m53s lap was KTM's Brad Binder in fourth place.

Aleix Espargaro made it three Aprilias in the top five, while a last-gasp effort by Luca Marini (VR46 Ducati) elevated the Honda-linked Italian to sixth place.

Championship hopefuls Jorge Martin and Bagnaia completed the top eight, both having had riders follow them on their push laps late on.

Pramac rider Martin had a potential issue with his primary bike early on and was visibly agitated throughout the session even after switching to his spare. In the closing minutes, he had the Tech3 Gas Gas duo of Augusto Fernandez and Pol Espargaro tuck in behind him, with Fernandez booking a Q2 spot in ninth but Espargaro crashing at the final corner.

For Bagnaia, the two factory Hondas were his tail, this allowing Marc Marquez but not team-mate Joan Mir to secure passage to Q2.

Espargaro's aforementioned crash not only wrote off the fastest laps of Bagnaia and Marquez, but also removed Q2-worthy laptimes posted by the likes of Marco Bezzecchi (VR46 Ducati) and Enea Bastianini (Ducati).

They will be part of a formidable Q1 line-up that will also include KTM's Jack Miller - who crashed twice during the session, his second crash coming during the time attacks late on - and Yamaha's Fabio Quartararo, badly compromised by yellow flags.

Q1 will also feature Sepang standout Alex Marquez (Gresini Ducati) and Pramac Ducati's Johann Zarco, who had been runner-up in the opening practice session but had a crash in second practice and ultimately placed no higher than 16th.

Practice 1 Results

PosNameCarBest TimeGap Leader
1Raul FernandezAprilia1m52.843s
2Fabio Di GiannantonioDucati1m52.892s+0.049s
3Maverick ViñalesAprilia1m52.936s+0.093s
4Brad BinderKTM1m52.955s+0.112s
5Aleix EspargaróAprilia1m53.033s+0.190s
6Luca MariniDucati1m53.094s+0.251s
7Jorge MartinDucati1m53.195s+0.352s
8Francesco BagnaiaDucati1m53.202s+0.359s
9Augusto FernandezKTM1m53.289s+0.446s
10Marc MarquezHonda1m53.323s+0.480s
11Jack MillerKTM1m53.337s+0.494s
12Alex MarquezDucati1m53.561s+0.718s
13Franco MorbidelliYamaha1m53.564s+0.721s
14Pol EspargaróKTM1m53.696s+0.853s
15Marco BezzecchiDucati1m53.704s+0.861s
16Johann ZarcoDucati1m53.778s+0.935s
17Joan MirHonda1m53.921s+1.078s
18Enea BastianiniDucati1m53.937s+1.094s
19Miguel OliveiraAprilia1m54.005s+1.162s
20Iker LecuonaHonda1m54.254s+1.411s
21Fabio QuartararoYamaha1m54.260s+1.417s
22Takaaki NakagamiHonda1m54.441s+1.598s
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