Ducati dominate practice at Qatar MotoGP season opener

Doha (AFP) –


Ducati's Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia came in first and second position, dominating the first two free practices at the season-opening Qatar MotoGP on Friday.

Australian Miller refused to let a fall during the first free session throw him off course, clocking the best time during the second practice -- 1 minute 53.387 seconds.

It was just 0.07sec shy of the track record set in 2019 by Spain's Honda rider Marc Marquez who is still out after fracturing his arm last summer, sidelining him for the first two Grand Prix of the season.

Miller's Ducati teammate, Italy's Bagnaia, clocked in just 0.035sec off the lead, followed by Frenchman Fabio Quartararo (Yamaha) and Johann Zarco (Ducati-Pramac), in third and fourth, 0.188sec and 0.199sec behind Miller respectively.

The only favourite absent from the top 10 was defending world champion, Spain's Joan Mir (Suzuki) who came eleventh, 0.527sec behind Miller -- surely a bad omen ahead of qualifying which begins on Saturday at 1700 GMT.

It will be a tall order for Mir to improve his time during the third free practice which unlike the first two will take place during the daytime heat when the track will be warmer, offering less grip.

Combined fastest times from Friday's practice sessions at the Qatar MotoGP:

1. Jack Miller (AUS/Ducati) 1:53.387, 2. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA/Ducati) 1:53.422, 3. Fabio Quartararo (FRA/Yamaha) 1:53.575, 4. Johann Zarco (FRA/Ducati-Pramac) 1:53.586, 5. Alex Rins (ESP/Suzuki) 1:53.623, 6. Maverick Vinales (ESP/Yamaha) 1:53.639, 7. Franco Morbidelli (ITA/Yamaha-SRT) 1:53.676, 8. Aleix Espargaro (ESP/Aprilia) 1:53.727, 9. Valentino Rossi (ITA/Yamaha-SRT) 1:53.874, 10. Pol Espargaro (ESP/Honda) 1:53.901