Espargaro confident of bike’s potential after first practice session at Qatar
The 2012 MotoGP World Championship officially got underway at 19:55 local time tonight (GMT+3) beneath the glare of the Losail Circuit floodlights. The Grand Prix of Qatar started a day earlier than usual in order to give each category the required track time after dark, with the MotoGP class heading out for a single 45-minute session. Cal Crutchlow and Ben Spies set the early running but as expected it was Casey Stoner who reacted the strongest to set the pace at the top of a 21-strong field.
POWER ELECTRONICS Aspar riders Randy de Puniet and Aleix Espargaró were thirteenth and sixteenth fastest respectively, the Frenchman again setting the pace amongst the new breed of CRT MotoGP machines. Riding the ART prototype, De Puniet benefitted from some notable changes to his gearbox setting today, allowing him to set some impressive lap times despite a distinct lack of grip and some suspension problems. Espargaró struggled a little more than his experienced team-mate to adapt his bike to the slippery conditions but he was still the fourth quickest CRT bike on track, some 4.2 seconds off Stoner’s pace.
16th Aleix Espargaró 2.00.720 (14 laps): “We have started well and even though there wasn’t much grip the bike was predictable. We managed to gradually improve grip and then when we put a soft tyre in the rear we ended up with the same traction problems on the front that we had at Jerez. The front was a little unstable under acceleration too so we have to work out why that happened. We thought we’d be struggling more than we are in terms of power and top speed here compared to the factory bikes although we are losing out a lot in acceleration. I think we can close the gap to the guys in front of us, we just have to keep working.”
Source: Aspar Team