Qatar MotoGP: Marquez breaks lap record as Cal goes second

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Marc Marquez has broken Casey Stoner’s lap record en route to going top of the time sheets on the second day of the 2015 GP season. The double world champion took almost half a second off the Australian’s record, which has stood since 2008.

Speaking afterwards, he spoke of his pleasure not at his fast lap times, but of the speed he was also able to achieve during his race runs.

"Today has been a very good day, because we have improved our pace – which is the most important thing - and tried out a few things that have allowed us to progress. We will see tomorrow if the track conditions stay the same or improve, but today we saw times that were very close; I think that tomorrow they will be even closer. The most important thing will be to continue like this and prepare for Sunday’s race."

Second was a remarkable performance form Cal Crutchlow, taking the CWM LCR Honda to within 0.096 of Marquez’s record. In fact, the competition was close all the way down the field at the end of the session, with only a second covering the top sixteen.

Crutchlow suffered from a rear grip problem early in the session with "20 to 30% more wheel spin" on the same tyre from one run to the next. This left him struggling down the timesheets in the early stages of the session before vaulting to the front with a superb lap on his final exit.

Speaking after the session Crutchlow was once again keen to downplay the result and said that at the moment his one lap speed isn't reflective of the pace he feels capable of running consistently.

"I was happy but we definitely need to improve to battle with the guys in the front," said Crutchlow. "I think our second positon is not relative to where we are. But I’m not complaining! At the moment we are probably top six. But you could easily be 12th-13th-14th. At the moment it is so close that I really don’t know. If somebody said to me, ‘where do you think you’ll finish if the race was now?’ I couldn’t give you an answer."

The session was exceptionally close and with Andrea Iannone third, despite a crash, and Aleix Espargaro continuing to impress on the Suzuki to take fourth ahead of Dani Pedrosa and Andrea Dovizioso the benefits of the softer Open tyre were clear. This pace left even Marquez somewhat concerned about the risks of qualifying:

"For qualifying, I think the Ducati riders will be difficult to beat," admitted Marquez. "The two Andreas; also my own team-mate looks fast here and Yamaha you never know also because in one lap they can be there. We did a step from yesterday, especially in the rhythm, which is the most important for the race. But the fast lap time on one lap we are more or less the same – faster, but we didn't improve a lot there but the rear feels more comfortable. Tomorrow, we will try to go in this way in FP4 and especially in the qualifying practice we will have to really concentrate because the times are really tight and it's easy that you could start on the third row if you did a mistake, so we must push 100 percent."

Yonny Hernandez was seventh, ahead of the first of the struggling Yamahas of Jorge Lorenzo in eighth and Valentino Rossi in ninth. Pol Espargaro rounded out the top ten.

Scott Redding was twelfth, despite finishing only 0.6 slower than Marquez, while Bradley Smith was eighteenth and Eugene Laverty nineteenth.

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Simon Patterson

By Simon Patterson

MotoGP and road racing reporter, photographer, videographer