LCR Honda CASTROL rider Cal Crutchlow ended the opening day of practice for the season-opening MotoGP Qatar Grand Prix down in 13th position on the timesheets. It means the Briton has plenty of work to do on Saturday if he is to make it through to Q1 and a secure place towards the front of the grid for Sunday’s race.
By his own high standards, Crutchlow was off the pace in the FP1 session and eventually finished down in 17 th position. Running on two soft tyres, he improved in FP2 but could not produce a lap to break into the all-important top 10. While disappointed, he admitted afterwards he was still delighted to be back competing after his injury problems at the end of last season.
Takaaki Nakagami suffered frustration on the first day of practice for the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix. The LCR Honda IDEMITSU rider looked strong throughout as the 2019 season got underway at the Losail International Circuit, but was just forced out of the top 10 as FP2 developed into a shoot-out on Friday evening.
Taka performed solidly in FP1 as he claimed 10 th position and was back on the pace in FP2 as he ran a medium rear tyre. But, with FP3 unlikely to offer riders the chance to improve their times, the field all pushed for a top 10 spot towards the end of the session and Nakagami missed out by less than a second, eventually finishing in 12th – one spot ahead of LCR team-mate Cal Crutchlow.
Takaaki Nakagami – 12th (1’54.444 – lap 16 of 17): “I’m quite disappointed about today’s result, of course during the session (FP2) we had quite a good position and put on a medium tyre thinking about the race. On the medium tyre the lap times were quite good and we were always in the top 10. But then at the end of the session everybody put on a soft tyre and it was like a qualifying because in FP3 it will be almost impossible to make a lap time as it will be too hot”.
“So this (FP2) was a really important session, but unfortunately the rear grip didn’t work very well for me with a soft tyre. I tried my best to make a lap time, but missed the top 10 by less than one tenth and I’m very disappointed to end in 12th position. But I’ll try to be positive for the second day and make a strong FP4 and qualifying.”
Cal Crutchlow – 13th (1’54.452 – lap 12 of 17): “I’m a little disappointed with today’s result, I had a tough FP1 and, while FP2 was a lot better, it’s still disappointing to be in Q1. Tomorrow it will be very difficult to go faster in the heat, in the daylight as FP3 is at the wrong time, so it will be very difficult for us to improve to get into the top 10 for Q2 – this is why everybody pushed like mad”.
“I used two soft tyres, the first one I was very happy with although I made a big mistake on my lap. I’m angry at myself, it’s my own fault, my own mistakes, but as my crew chief has just said to me, three months ago we didn’t think we’d be racing here so we have to take the positives. The positive for me is that I still think I can be competitive this weekend and get a good result, but I just wasn’t fast enough today through my own mistakes.”