After a long winter testing period, the first free-practice session for the 2013 MotoGP championship took place this evening at Qatar’s Losail International Circuit, which traditionally kicks off the season by hosting the calendar’s only night race. Conditions were challenging, with winds having blown dust on the track surface during the day, limiting traction considerably, but Ducati Team riders Andrea Dovizioso and Nicky Hayden were both happy to finally get the season under way, posting the fifth- and tenth-best times, respectively, on the charts by session’s end. Tomorrow will see the MotoGP riders taking part in two more free-practice sessions, with qualifying to be held Saturday night and the Grand Prix taking place on Sunday.
“I’m pleased with the lap time, especially because I did three laps like that and I could have been even better if I hadn’t come across traffic. Anyway, the times aren’t really a reference in terms of pace, as the first session is always a bit strange here due to the sand. It’s definitely possible to improve. The riders ahead of me used soft tyres, and I was the only one to use the hard front. Tomorrow there are two important sessions in which we can work on our pace.”
“It’s certainly good to get the season started. I was having a lot of trouble in my first exit, and I’m not sure what the problem was. When we switched to my other bike with different tyres, the feeling improved and I started putting in some decent laps. I was getting better as the track cleaned up, but I was losing a lot of time in the last three rights. If I can figure out that section and get it to wheelie less, I should be able to improve quite a bit. It’s not a great start, but I think if we can improve a couple of things, we can put up a good fight here.”