Quartararo struggles as Suzukis shine in Qatar practice


Reigning MotoGP champion Fabio Quartararo struggled in the third practice session for the season-opening Qatar Grand Prix and was forced into the first qualifying session.

Quartararo was only 11th fastest on his Yamaha with just the top 10 automatically advancing to Q2 in the afternoon, which decides the first four rows of the grid.

The two quickest riders in Q1 join that session.

Alex Rins on one of the surprisingly quick Suzukis had the fastest practice time overall.

His time of 1 min 53.432 sec was 0.035sec faster than six-time MotoGP champion Marc Marquez, and 0.147 better than his teammate Joan Mir.

It was a welcome boost for Marquez, who is coming off two injury-ridden seasons, on his redesigned Honda.

"I'm much better than last year when I was on the sofa," Marquez he told British broadcaster BT Sport.

Enea Bastianini (Ducati-Gresini), Pol Espargaro (Honda), sixth, and last year's runner up Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati) all improved heir best times on Saturday morning to push Quartararo out of the top 10.

Like many sports bodies since the start of the Russian invasion of Ukraine, MotoGP is displaying the words "United for peace" during its television broadcasts.

Several riders are also wearing a "Give peace a chance" sticker on their helmets.

The GP is the first of a record 21-race season climaxing in Valencia, Spain, on November 6.

Combined practice times after the third session Saturday.

1. Alex Rins (ESP/Suzuki) 1min 53.432sec,  2. Marc Marquez (ESP/Honda)at 0.035sec,3. Joan Mir (ESP/Suzuki) 0.147,  4. Jorge Martin (ESP/Ducati-Pramac) 0.220, 5. Enea Bastianini (ITA/Ducati-Gresini) 0.358, 6. Pol Espargaro (ESP/Honda) 0.371, 7. Franco Morbidelli (ITA/Yamaha) 0.413, 8. Francesco Bagnaia (ITA/Ducati) 0.423, 9. Jack Miller (AUS/Ducati) 0.438, 10. Aleix Espargaro (ESP/Aprilia) 0.454,11. Fabio Quartararo (FRA/Yamaha) 0.474