News 2 Mar 2018

Vinales bounces back on opening day of Qatar MotoGP test

Australia's Miller 12th on the time-sheets following Thursday.

Image: Supplied.

Movistar Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales opened the Qatar test on top of the time-sheets, with last year’s victor at Losail narrowly beating Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) to the top by less than half a tenth, with Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) third.

Vinales posted a 1m55.053s to lead the way, gaining important track time after Yamaha struggled in Thailand, with much to test. One thing that is defined however is aero – with electronics and grip issues the key focus.

Back on top on day 1, Spaniard Vinales put in 64 laps, with teammate Valentino Rossi not far behind on lap-count or lap-time. The Doctor was seventh, but with exactly the same fastest lap as Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) ahead of him. Rossi was positive after day one, as was Vinales.

Rins was the fastest Suzuki machine at Buriram, but at Qatar, teammate Andrea Iannone turned the tables on day one. Iannone was third fastest and so close to Dovizioso ahead of him, with Rins a couple of tenths further back. Team manager Davide Brivio says the package for the Hamamatsu factory is largely now defined in terms of engine and chassis, with time now allocated to final confirmations.

Meanwhile at Ducati, Dovizioso showed more of his hand on day one as he blasted up the time-sheets and was top Borgo Panigale machine. And teammate Jorge Lorenzo, who set the fastest-ever lap at Sepang and then struggled in Thailand, shot back into contention on Thursday at Losail as he ended the day in fifth, around half a second off his own race lap record.

Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) was the man who was just ahead of Lorenzo, fastest Independent Team rider and once again a presence in the top echelons of the time-sheets after going second-fastest in Buriram. His new teammate Hafizh Syahrin also put in a good performance once more, going P22 and mixing it up with his fellow rookies. Of those, Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) was the quickest once more, ending Thursday in P14.

Nakagami’s teammate Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) was the fastest Honda overall as he took ninth, with Repsol Honda Team’s Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa just 0.009s and 0.010s further back respectively as the three men lined up in a row on the time-sheets. Marquez concentrated on electronics on Thursday and was positive, with teammate Dani Pedrosa making some different headlines with two tumbles.

Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) slotted into eighth on the first day, with teammate Jack Miller not quite as far up the time-sheets so far in Qatar, taking 12th overall. Alvaro Bautista (Angel Nieto Team) was only a tenth and a half off Miller in 13th, with Scott Redding (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) completing the fastest 15 just behind quickest rookie Nakagami. Redding was the fastest Aprilia, with fellow rider Aleix Espargaro two positions further back.

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing meanwhile were glad to have Pol Espargaro back in action alongside Bradley Smith, working on smaller updates to the chassis and engine, as well as defining their aero package. Espargaro ended the day in 19th, but only just over 1.2 seconds off the top, with Smith for close company just behind and both riders put a combined total of more than 100 laps on the counter for the Austrian factory as their progress keeps rolling on. However, Espargaro will definitely be sitting out Friday’s track action as he continues his recovery.

Detailed results