News 17 Feb 2017

Yamaha newcomer Viñales ends Phillip Island test fastest

Home hero Miller continues form in ninth overall on combined times.

Source: Supplied.

New kid on the Yamaha block Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) has done it again at Phillip Island, going even faster on day three to top the time-sheets once more.

Fastest on day two and fastest during testing at Sepang and Valencia, the Spaniard has hit the ground running in his new MotoGP home, ending the Australia test ahead of the Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa.

Viñales put in a 1m28.549s early in his impressive day’s work – a time unthreatened until the final flag. Completing 101 laps and able to put in 1m28s laps in a row, the Spaniard also managed to rake in the laps in the 1m29 bracket in another ominous show of form.

His teammate, nine-time world champion Valentino Rossi, ended day three in 11th and 0.921s in arrears. The Doctor did a best of 1m29.470s in the third session, but is bumped down to P12 on combined times.

The closest chasers to the portentous pace of Viñales were Repsol Honda duo Marquez and Pedrosa. Marquez, who did 107 laps today and is the only other rider in the illustrious 1m28s club, did a best of 1m28.843s as he prepares for his title defence.

Pedrosa, who was ill on day two and only went out on track for the afternoon, was back on form on day three and put in 65 laps with a quickest effort of 1m29.033s, just missing the 1m28s and slotting into P3 on Friday and combined time-sheets.

The fastest rookie kept his crown on the third and final day of testing, as Jonas Folger (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) shot up into fourth. The German, who did an incredible 1m29.042s, also suffered a crash but remained just ahead of 2016 Australian GP winner Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda).

Folger’s teammate, two-time Moto2 world champion Johann Zarco, ended the Australian test 15th on combined times with a 1m29.670s.

With Crutchlow locking out the top five, another impressive rookie was hot on the Brit’s tail in Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar). Beating new teammate Andrea Iannone on the time-sheets yesterday and repeating the feat, Rins put in a 1m29.103s to end up only 0.002s off the number 35 on the combined time-sheets, despite a small crash.

Second of the Suzukis, Iannone, ended up 13th overall and 12th on the final day after completing 77 laps in the final session with a best of 1m29.547s lap-time.

Seventh and eighth was a Ducati Team lockout. Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo were separated by less than a tenth, and both completed over 70 laps. DesmoDovi is on test duty for the team, with Spartan Lorenzo’s focus more angled at adapting to the Desmosedici. The Italian’s best was a 1m29.248s, with the Spaniard just behind on a 1m29.342s.

Local hero Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) was the next man up, with the Australian impressing once again after proving a constant force to be reckoned with in the top 10. 2016 Assen GP winner Miller did a best of 1m29.358s to line up just behind five-time world champion Lorenzo, flying the EG0,0 Marc VDS flag alone at his home track.

Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was another who impressed, taking sixth on day two and locking out the top 10 on combined times. The Spaniard, whose best lap was a 1m29.361s, put in 65 laps for the Noale factory on day three, with rookie teammate Sam Lowes adding another 57. Lowes’ best was a 1m30.200s.

Espargaro’s compatriot Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Team) was one of the few riders to not improve on day three, but his time from the second session is enough to keep him P11 on the combined time-sheets, just ahead of Rossi. Former 125 World Champion Bautista’s best was a 1m29.411s.

Octo Pramac Racing’s Danilo Petrucci was the final rider in the top 15, taking 14th overall just ahead of Zarco. The Italian, on the Desmosedici GP17, did a 1m29.615s to end the Australian test just over a second off the best lap by Viñales.

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing made a huge leap up in lap-time on the third and final day at Phillip Island. Both riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith put in laps under the 1m30s barrier, with the Spaniard’s best a 1m29.857s and the Brit’s a 1m29.978s. The time-sheets bode well for the Austrian factory as the road to Qatar gets shorter.

Next up is Losail International Circuit for another test – the last – before the lights go out at the same venue and 2017 hits the gas.