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The 2014 MotoGP World Championship finally got underway this evening under the floodlights of the Losail circuit in Qatar. Having launched their new livery just yesterday, the newly named Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders were out feeling their way on the night track for the first time this year.

With little rubber down on the circuit and some sand blowing across from the desert, grip issues became the number one problem to solve for both Valentino Rossi and teammate Jorge Lorenzo. Just 15 minutes in the session was red flagged to allow a clean up of some of the debris on track left by rider Jonny Hernandez’s earlier crash.

Rossi returned to the track in thirteenth position after the clean up and began to work on his set up, gradually moving up the timesheets, running as high as fifth before dropping two places to seventh behind highest placed factory rider Dani Pedrosa in sixth at the end.

In true Lorenzo style, the Mallorcan was one of the first out of the pit lane as the session began, eager to get to work on his set up ahead of this weekend’s opening round of the championship. Unlike the satellite and open class riders who had the fortune to test in Qatar two weeks ago, Lorenzo had no data to go on and struggled to find a way round the lack of grip he encountered on the track. He ended the first practice of the weekend in ninth position, just under 1.5 seconds from the front.

Yamaha Factory Racing Press Release
.Aleix Espargaro (SPA)NGM Mobile Forward Racing1’55.201
2.Alvaro Bautista (SPA)Go&Fun Honda Gresini1’55.667
3.Bradley Smith (GBR)Monster Yamaha Tech31’55.816
4.Andrea Iannone (ITA)Pramac Racing1’55.996
5.Pol Espargarò (SPA)Monster Yamaha Tech31’56.020
6.Dani Pedrosa (SPA)Repsol Honda Team1’56.332
7.Valentino Rossi (ITA)Yamaha Factory Racing1’56.542
8.Colin Edwards (USA)NGM Mobile Forward Racing1’56.626
9.Jorge Lorenzo (SPA)Yamaha Factory Racing1’56.668
10.Nicky Hayden (USA)Drive M7 Aspar1’56.670
11.Marc Marquez (SPA)Repsol Honda Team1’56.682
12.Stefan Bradl (GER)LCR Honda MotoGP1’56.726
13.Cal Crutchlow (GBR)Ducati Team1’57.046
14.Andrea Dovizioso (ITA)Ducati Team1’57.100
15.Yonny Hernandez (COL)Energy T.I. Pramac Racing1’57.623
16.Karel Abraham (CZE)Cardion AB Motoracing1’57.779
17.Hiroshi Aoyama (JPN)Drive M7 Aspar1’58.182
18.Hector Barbera (SPA)Avintia Racing1’58.394
19.Scott Redding (GBR)Go&Fun Honda Gresini1’58.495
20.Mike Di Meglio (FRA)Avintia Racing1’58.732
21.Danilo Petrucci (ITA)Came Iodaracing Project1’59.321
22.Brok Parkes (AUS)Paul Bird Motorsport1’59.328

Valentino Rossi 7th / 1'56.542 / 18 laps

The track is in quite a bad condition but I think it’s quite normal for a first practice. There is a lot of sand and not a lot of rubber down. Also a lot of riders except the factory riders have been here for three days and have done a lot more km and a lot more laps so it’s normal they are stronger than us. Now the work for the weekend will be hard to reduce the gap. I have a lack of grip front and rear, on corner entry and also on acceleration the bike moves very much. I think the condition of the track is getting better and it will get easier.”

Jorge Lorenzo 9th / 1'56.668 / 15 laps

“I’m a little disappointed because hearing the comments of the riders that were here two weeks ago it seemed the tyres were working really well. Having arrived here it seems the track is a little worse, the feeling of the rear tyre is more or less the same as in Sepang, with little grip and traction. We didn’t have three days to test here like the top five so our problems are bigger. We must hope that the tyre gets better and we can improve the grip on the rear.”

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