RNF Aprilia’s Raul Fernandez ended Friday practice for the Qatar Grand Prix as the surprise leader, while title rivals Jorge Martin and Francesco Bagnaia could only manage seventh and eighth.
Following the afternoon FP1 outing, which saw the riders lapping around four seconds off the expected pace due to the dirtiness of the Lusail International Circuit track surface, times came swiftly down.
Aprilia’s Maverick Vinales took over at the top of the times as the crucial shootout for the ten guaranteed pole shootout spots got underway. It would be Fernandez though he ended the day at the head of the times, the Spaniard having shown well in FP1 by managing fourth in the afternoon.
The Spaniard’s 1:52.843s effort left him 0.049s clear of Gresini’s Fabio Di Gianantonio, with Vinales shuffled back to third in the final order.
KTM’s Brad Binder claimed fourth in the end, while the sister factory Aprilia entry of Aleix Espargaro completed the top five in what turned out to be a strong day for the Noale-based marque.
Luca Marini was sixth on his VR46-run Ducati, while Martin led championship rival Bagnaia for the second time in as many sessions. The duo both struggled to find confidence with the front end of their Ducati Desmosedici’s and have work to do overnight to be challenging at the very front on Saturday.
They did at least possess enough speed to make Q2 directly, as did GasGas’ Augusto Fernandez and Honda’s Marc Marquez – the top ten covered by a slender 0.480s in the end.
KTM’s Jack Miller narrowly missed out on a guaranteed Q2 berth by just 0.014s to Marquez, the Aussie just over two-tenths-of-a-second clear of the other Gresini of Alex Marquez.
Franco Morbidelli flew the flag for Yamaha in 13th, with 2021 MotoGP champion Fabio Quartararo languishing down in 21st having failed to put together a good enough effort in the closing stages of the test.
VR46’s Marco Bezzecchi and Pramac’s Johann Zarco ended Friday surprisingly far down the pack, the Ducati pair heading into Saturday in 15th and 16th overall.
Malaysian Grand Prix victor Enea Bastianini was also left with work to do, the Italian hindered by yellow flags in the closing moments of the session which left him 18th heading into qualifying.