Márquez dazzles in final Qatar practice

The MotoGP rookie topped both the second and third practice sessions at Losail on Friday...
Marc Márquez Repsol Honda MotoGP 2013 Qatar Grand Prix
Marc Márquez, going fast, in Qatar! © Photo courtesy of Repsol Honda team
By Joseph Caron Dawe

There was only a thousandth of a second in it but it just added to the intensity and drama as Marc Márquez went fastest in the final practice session before qualifying for the Grand Prix of Qatar.

The MotoGP riders rode two practice sessions on Friday after having one on Thursday, and rookie Márquez was quickest in both, adding to the expectation that awaits his race debut in the elite class on Sunday.

The unfamiliar sight of spots of rain at Losail preceded the start of the MotoGP class's second free practice session on Friday evening, but it didn't slow Márquez down as he improved on his lap time from the previous day. He was the only rider inside the top five in FP2 who did so.

Later, in the third practice session, World Champion Jorge Lorenzo looked to be set to wrap up P1 on the timesheet before a blistering late lap of 1 minute 56.984 seconds from Márquez sent the Repsol Honda rider ahead of his Spanish rival by the very slimmest of margins.

It was a phenomenal sight and one which merely heightened the excitement surrounding Márquez.

Third fastest in the last session was British rider Cal Crutchlow, who with another impressive display put his satellite Tech 3 Yamaha within 0.242s of Lorenzo's factory machine, while Valentino Rossi on the second factory Yamaha was less than a tenth behind Crutchlow in fourth spot.

If Márquez's display was monumentally impressive given his novice status, then Andrea Dovizioso's on the notoriously hard-to-tame Ducati was a very close second for performance of the day.

The Italian put the Desmosedici fifth in the order, just 0.001s behind Rossi and just over 0.3s off Márquez's lap in a showing that will have had the Ducati garage breathing a collective huge sigh of relief through an undoubtedly large smile.

Dani Pedrosa, who struggled with corner entry on Thursday, still appeared to be not fully comfortable on his Repsol Honda machine and was sixth fastest, while the remainder of the top ten was rounded out by Álvaro Bautista, Nicky Hayden, rookie Bradley Smith and Stefan Bradl. Smith's ride was another that caught the eye, as the British rider debuts on the Tech 3 Yamaha this weekend.

The top 10 all made it directly through to QP2, as part of the new qualifying format which comes into effect for the 2013 season. You can read more on how it works by clicking here.

Pramac Ducati riders Andrea Iannone and Ben Spies just missed out on the top ten, and will ride in the QP1 session which precedes QP2 on Saturday.

For the full list of the combined MotoGP times from Qatar practices 1, 2 and 3 click here.

There is a fourth, untimed practice session which runs for 30 minutes before the start of QP1 on Saturday. That gets underway at 5.55pm UK time.

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