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Fine Margins in the Desert on QatarGP Opening Day for Morbidelli and Rossi

Fine Margins in the Desert on QatarGP Opening Day for Morbidelli and Rossi

PETRONAS Yamaha SRT’s Franco Morbidelli seventh and Valentino Rossi ninth.

A red flag period during FP2 and fine margins were the stand out features of the opening day of MotoGP action at the QatarGP, where PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team’s Franco Morbidelli and Valentino Rossi ended Friday’s practice sessions at Losail International Circuit seventh and ninth respectively - an important achievement with different track conditions predicted for FP3 potentially hindering direct entry to Q2 tomorrow.

Continuing his good form from the pre-season test, Morbidelli reinforced that he’s one to watch after ending the MotoGP FP1 session at the top of the times with a 1min 54.921secs lap. The second practice session of the day saw fine margins separate the riders, as lap times fell in the evening conditions. Franco’s fastest lap – 1min 53.676secs – saw him end the day seventh, just 0.289secs shy of the top.

Rossi, who is celebrating the 25th anniversary of his GP debut, improved his lap times steadily throughout the 45 minutes of FP1. At the end of the session Vale’s 1min 55.419secs lap put him ninth. After the red flag period, the Italian was a permanent fixture in the top-ten for the majority of the remaining time in FP2. At the end of the session Rossi had posted the ninth quickest time of the day, a 1min 53.874secs lap, which was 0.487secs off the fastest rider.

Tomorrow’s track action for Morbidelli and Rossi will begin with Free Practice 3 at 3.15pm local time (8.15pm MYT), and culminate in the two qualifying sessions that will take place from 8pm local time (1am MYT).

Franco Morbidelli

"I’m pretty happy about today. I was fast in the afternoon, but then at night we tried the medium rear tyre and we struggled a little bit with it. I still managed to get into the top-ten though, which was really important today because tomorrow it will be difficult to improve the times. You could see that so many riders gave their maximum tonight. There are things that we need to improve, to do better, so we will check what we can do and then try. It will be difficult but I think we can manage to reduce the gap. It will be important to make a good qualifying, but overall I am happy with our performance today."

Valentino Rossi

"I’m happy with this first day. I feel really comfortable in the team, there is a nice atmosphere and we are working well in the garage. Our target for today was to try to stay inside the top-ten, because tomorrow it will be difficult to improve the lap time, and in the end I was P9. I feel also happy with the bike and I have already bettered my time from the test, which is good. We now need to work, to try to improve some small details for tomorrow and also we know that the tyre choice is not an easy one to make. For me this is going to be crucial; we think that it will be hot tomorrow but less so on Sunday. Our main aim tomorrow though will be to make a good time attack and start in a top position."