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Qatar MotoGP: Aleix Espargaro completes practice clean sweep

Aleix Espargaro, Forward Yamaha, Qatar MotoGP test March 2014

Aleix Espargaro completed a clean sweep of Qatar practice by heading Andrea Iannone in the third session ahead of this weekend's MotoGP season-opener.

The Spaniard, quickest in the previous two sessions, set a 1m54.773s to finish more than four tenths of a second clear of the rest of the pack.

Behind Iannone, Alvaro Bautista and Andrea Dovizioso locked out the top four as the Factory riders, unable to use the soft compound available to all other entrants, struggled for outright speed.

Honda's defending champion Marc Marquez was the best placed in fifth, with Jorge Lorenzo seventh and Valentino Rossi and Dani Pedrosa ninth and 10th respectively.

Bradley Smith managed to split Marquez and Lorenzo despite crashing heavily and wrecking his Tech 3 Yamaha at Turn 5 early on.

Cal Crutchlow also fell during the session, losing his Ducati at Turn 10 just 15 minutes in.

The Briton wound up 12th overall, and therefore misses automatic qualification into Q2.

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Rossi was also at risk of missing the cut when, two minutes from the end, he was bumped down to 11th in the combined times by Smith's team-mate Pol Espargaro.

The Italian responded however, just securing 10th - and the final berth through to Q2 - with his next effort.

Stefan Bradl also makes the Q2 cut-off, having finished eighth overall in the third session.

Pos Rider             Team                    Time       Gap     Laps
 1. Aleix Espargaro   Forward Yamaha          1m54.773s           15
 2. Andrea Iannone    Pramac Ducati           1m55.186s  +0.413s  19
 3. Alvaro Bautista   Gresini Honda           1m55.240s  +0.467s  17
 4. Andrea Dovizioso  Ducati                  1m55.250s  +0.477s  15
 5. Marc Marquez      Honda                   1m55.446s  +0.673s  16
 6. Bradley Smith     Tech 3 Yamaha           1m55.474s  +0.701s  15
 7. Jorge Lorenzo     Yamaha                  1m55.495s  +0.722s  14
 8. Stefan Bradl      LCR Honda               1m55.676s  +0.903s  18
 9. Valentino Rossi   Yamaha                  1m55.702s  +0.929s  17
10. Dani Pedrosa      Honda                   1m55.754s  +0.981s  16
11. Pol Espargaro     Tech 3 Yamaha           1m55.793s  +1.020s  19
12. Cal Crutchlow     Ducati                  1m56.013s  +1.240s  16
13. Nicky Hayden      Aspar Honda             1m56.357s  +1.584s  15
14. Colin Edwards     Forward Yamaha          1m56.373s  +1.600s  17
15. Yonny Hernandez   Pramac Ducati           1m56.633s  +1.860s  15
16. Hiroshi Aoyama    Aspar Honda             1m56.939s  +2.166s  18
17. Scott Redding     Gresini Honda           1m56.997s  +2.224s  16
18. Karel Abraham     Cardion Honda           1m57.345s  +2.572s  14
19. Broc Parkes       PBM Aprilia             1m57.665s  +2.892s  13
20. Mike di Meglio    Avintia FTR-Kawasaki    1m58.204s  +3.431s  13
21. Hector Barbera    Avintia FTR-Kawasaki    1m58.219s  +3.446s  12
22. Michael Laverty   PBM Aprilia             1m58.378s  +3.605s  13
23. Danilo Petrucci   Ioda Aprilia            1m58.651s  +3.878s  18
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