Qatar MotoGP: Aleix Espargaro fastest in opening practice

Aleix Espargaro continued his storming start to 2014 by topping the first practice session of the year in Qatar

Qatar MotoGP: Aleix Espargaro fastest in opening practice

The Spaniard, riding Forward's Open class Yamaha, dominated the early part of the session and then surged clear once more as times improved in the final minutes.

His final effort, a 1m55.633s, put him almost half a second clear of a chasing pack led by satellite Factory riders Alvaro Bautista, Bradley Smith, Andrea Iannone and the pacesetter's brother Pol.

The younger Espargaro, riding just two weeks after breaking his collarbone in testing at the Losail track, was the final rider to get within one second of the pace.

Espargaro ready for giantkilling act

The factory riders never came close to hitting the front.

Defending champion Marc Marquez, riding in his first session since breaking his leg last month - and without painkillers - made a quiet start and wound up 11th overall, 1.5s off the pace.

MotoGP 2014: The key storylines

Jorge Lorenzo's tyre concerns returned with a vengeance, with the two-time champion visibly upset with the traction of his Yamaha. He was just two spots ahead of Marquez, and only 14 thousandths of a second faster.

Dani Pedrosa and Valentino Rossi also struggled to make an impact, coming home sixth and seventh respectively, over one second down on the elder Espargaro.

Ducati pair Cal Crutchlow and Andrea Dovizioso occupied 14th and 15th at the flag.

Satellite stablemate Yonny Hernandez caused the session's only incident when he crashed heavily at Turn 16.

The session was briefly halted to clean the track, while Hernandez was taken to the medical centre for X-rays on his right shoulder.

Pos Rider Team/Bike Time Gap 1. Aleix Espargaro Forward Yamaha 1m55.201s 2. Alvaro Bautista Gresini Honda 1m55.667s +0.466s 3. Bradley Smith Tech 3 Yamaha 1m55.816s +0.615s 4. Andrea Iannone Pramac Ducati 1m55.996s +0.795s 5. Pol Espargaro Tech 3 Yamaha 1m56.020s +0.819s 6. Dani Pedrosa Honda 1m56.332s +1.131s 7. Valentino Rossi Yamaha 1m56.542s +1.341s 8. Colin Edwards Forward Yamaha 1m56.626s +1.425s 9. Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha 1m56.668s +1.467s 10. Nicky Hayden Aspar Honda 1m56.670s +1.469s 11. Marc Marquez Honda 1m56.682s +1.481s 12. Stefan Bradl LCR Honda 1m56.726s +1.525s 13. Cal Crutchlow Ducati 1m57.046s +1.845s 14. Andrea Dovizioso Ducati 1m57.100s +1.899s 15. Yonny Hernandez Pramac Ducati 1m57.623s +2.422s 16. Karel Abraham Cardion Honda 1m57.779s +2.578s 17. Hiroshi Aoyama Aspar Honda 1m58.182s +2.981s 18. Hector Barbera Avintia FTR-Kawasaki 1m58.394s +3.193s 19. Scott Redding Gresini Honda 1m58.495s +3.294s 20. Mike di Meglio Avintia FTR-Kawasaki 1m58.732s +3.531s 21. Danilo Petrucci Ioda Aprilia 1m59.321s +4.120s 22. Broc Parkes PBM Aprilia 1m59.328s +4.127s 23. Michael Laverty PBM Aprilia 
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