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Lorenzo Leads FP1 Qatar, Barbera and Vinales in Top Five

It's finally time to hear more engine roar than talking, as the 2016 MotoGP championship kicked off with the first Free Practice session of the year, ahead of the season opener race in Qatar. Movistar Yamaha's 2015 World Champion Jorge Lorenzo ended the first official outing in the leading position, but behind him, the grid is full of surprises.
Lorenzo, Qatar FP1, 2016 21 photos
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Indeed, seeing Lorenzo carrying on from where he left off at the end of 2015 was not exactly a surprise. What was, however, new about him were the two ample winglets Yamaha installed on his bike, an aerodynamic accessory that his teammate Valentino Rossi did not use. Lorenzo's best lap was 1’55.440.

Rossi showed up in Qatar determined to fight hard for the 2016 title straight from the get-go, and ended FP1 in the second place, 0.267 seconds behind Lorenzo. The battle between the two will probably be one of the most intense things to watch this season, as the relationship between them is anything but cordial.

Ducati's factory rider Andrea Iannone was third on the first evening session, a mere 29 thousandths of a second behind Rossi, but the massive improvements Ducati made in all their bikes were demonstrated even better by a surprisingly fast Hector Barbera, riding Avintia's Ducati Desmosedici GP14.2 machine.

Barbera was only 0.370s slower than Lorenzo, and this is one of the things we're not exactly used to. The other Avintia bike with Loris Baz at the helm was 13th today.

Maverick Vinales was the rider to round up the top five. The Suzuki factory rider shows that his good pre-season performance was not a streak of luck, and that his talent is authentic. Suzuki is currently testing their fully-seamless gearbox ahead of the season's debut race, and the results in the Free Practice sessions will most likely decide whether they will take that transmission to the start line on Sunday.

Pol Espagaro was sixth, followed by the Honda couple, with Dani Pedrosa leading from Marc Marquez, who also experimented with winglets. Two more Ducati bikes went in top ten, Andrea Dovizioso and the OCTO Pramac Yakhnich satellite machine ridden by Scott Redding.

Bradley Smith, 11th in FP1, was the only rider to crash, but he walked away unhurt. Aprilia's all-new bike looked better than ever before, with Bautista climbing from the bottom of the time sheets, where Bradl remains so far, to the 17th position.

We can't wait to see what Free Practice 2 brings.

 
 
 
 
 

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