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Espargaró shocked by own performance

Espargaró shocked by own performance

Aleix Espargaró delivered an impressive lap to place his CRT well amongst prototype runners in first practice at Losail. The Spaniard, class champion of last year, ended Thursday in ninth position and only 1.1 seconds off the top spot.

Having expected a stiff challenge from a selection of rivals prior to the opening weekend of the season, Espargaró has already appeared to throw down the gauntlet for the competition - although track conditions will improve.

"I am really happy - I don't even know myself where that performance came from tonight!" he admitted. "The bike worked perfectly and it allowed me to ride with ease; and the more I saw the lap times drop, the more I wanted to push. I was able to follow the factory bikes around certain parts of the track, which is something that has never happened before. Clearly the new ART is working even better than last year; it is more nimble and it is helping me a lot in the direction changes."

Teammate Randy de Puniet finished 15th and was significantly less happy.

"I was looking forward to the season starting but, to be honest, my feeling with the bike wasn't what I expected in this first session," the Frenchman commented. "I have struggled to get a feel for the front end and I'm not sure why but I just couldn't brake where I wanted to. I was having to brake early to stop myself from running wide and that affected my corner speed.

"The positive side is that it's only the first session, we still have a lot of work ahead of us and the track was very dirty tonight so maybe that was the root of the problem."

Espargaró’s closest CRT challenger is Avintia Blusens’ Héctor Barberá, who completed the evening 14th overall but some 1.8 seconds slower.

MotoGP, 2013, COMMERCIAL BANK GRAND PRIX OF QATAR, Aleix Espargaro, Randy de Puniet, Power Electronics Aspar

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