MotoGP: Spanish outsider Aleix Espargaro quickest in Friday practice in Qatar
Last Updated: 21/03/14 6:32pm
Aleix Espargaro: Setting ominous pace at season opener in Qatar
Aleix Espargaro upstaged the big names to set the fastest time in Friday practice for the opening MotoGP race of the season in Qatar.
The Spaniard, riding for the non-factory NGM Forward Racing team, clocked a fastest time of 1 minute 54.989 seconds around Losail International Circuit.
His mark was 0.3s quicker than Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso, with Gresini Honda rider Alvaro Bautista completing the top three.
The two most prominent teams in recent years - Repsol Honda and Movistar Yamaha - both struggled for pace on Friday.
The Hondas of Dani Pedrosa and defending champion Marc Marquez did manage to finish fourth and fifth respectively but the Yamahas of Jorge Lorenzi and Valentino Rossi were even further back.
Seven-time top-class champion Rossi was a second off the pace in ninth, while double champion Lorenzo was all the way down in 11th.
Britain's Bradley Smith finished the day with the sixth fastest time, while his compatriot Cal Crutchlow was 13th.