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MotoGP Friday practice won't count towards Qatar GP qualifying after sudden rain

The second Qatar Grand Prix practice session will not count towards qualifying for the opening round of the 2024 MotoGP season following a sudden downpour at the Losail International Circuit.

Marc Marquez, Gresini Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

With the track being declared wet on Friday evening due to a short but heavy burst of rain, MotoGP will instead refer to the final practice on Saturday morning (officially referred to as Free Practice 2, despite being the third session in the order) to determine who all will gain an automatic entry into Q2.

Rain hit the Losail circuit for the first time around 7pm local time (4pm GMT), catching the Moto3 field off guard and leading to Ajo rider Jose Antonio Rueda losing control of his KTM at the final corner.

Race control initially announced that the following two sessions in Moto2 and MotoGP classes will go ahead as scheduled, but the riders in the intermediate class weren’t too comfortable with the conditions on track.

While Moto2 practice ran without any major issues, only a handful of riders ventured outside the pitlane, with Gas Up Racing’s Jaume Masia's best effort on the Kalex being more than 15 seconds off the pace set in much more favourable conditions on Friday afternoon.

Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing

Jorge Martin, Pramac Racing

Photo by: Gold and Goose / Motorsport Images

Qatar is one of the driest countries in the world, averaging just 71.33mm of precipitation in a year. No further rain is expected in Losail, located north of capital Doha, on Saturday and Sunday.

The second MotoGP practice session got under way at 8:10pm local time, 10 minutes later than originally planned, after a red flag in Moto3 FP2 had a knock-on effect on the remainder of the day’s schedule.

However, instead of being an hour long as per the schedule, it shall only run for 45 minutes and will have no bearing on the qualifying order on Saturday.

As a result, Saturday morning's practice directly before qualifying will run for 45 minutes from 1:40pm (10:40am GMT) and will determine who goes into Q2. Qualifying will start at 2:40pm local time (11:40am) on Saturday.

FP1 at Losail was topped by last year’s runner-up Jorge Martin on the Pramac Ducati, with factory Aprilia Aleix Espagaro ending up a close second.

MotoGP rookie sensation Pedro Acosta and eight-time world champion Marc Marquez, making his debut on the Gresini Ducati, starred in third and fourth positions respectively.

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