News 4 Mar 2018

MotoGP pre-season concludes with Zarco on top in Qatar

Miller 10th on Saturday, resulting in P11 overall at Losail Circuit.

Image: Supplied.

Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Johann Zarco leaves the Qatar test fastest, with the Frenchman topping Valentino Rossi and Andrea Dovizioso at the conclusion of three days.

Zarco’s best was a 1m54.029s, 0.247s ahead of Movistar Yamaha’s Rossi and current world number two Dovizioso on his factory Ducati.

In fourth, Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) was the fastest Honda with a 1m54.457s, continuing his fantastic pre-season form. It was incredibly close between the Brit and the third Yamaha Maverick Vinales however, with the Spaniard just 0.014s off after he made a late attack.

The top five were the same as the combined times on day three, but the man who leaves the desert sixth overall set his best laptime on day two, Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar). The Italian, whose 1m54.586s was the fastest lap on Friday, was sidelined on the third and final day of the third and final pre-season test due to illness.

World champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was seventh overall as he guns for his seventh title, displaying impressive pace on a long run and he did the most laps of anyone as he racked up 75. Second of the Suzukis Alex Rins took P8 overall.

Two Ducatis locked out the top 10, with Danilo Petrucci (Alma Pramac Racing) just 0.009s off Rins ahead of him and 0.033s ahead of Ducati Team’s Jorge Lorenzo. Second Alma Pramac Racing rider Jack Miller, who headed out late with a soft tyre for a time attack, was 11th overall and another tiny margin made the difference, by just 0.057s.

Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), after a big crash on day one and having been affected since by some pain in his left hand, did the least laps on Friday of anyone, but put in 44 more on the final day, ending the test in 12th overall after having topped the Thai test.

Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) was the fastest rookie by the end of action in 13th, with the Italian-Brazilian leaping up the leaderboard to set a 1m55.132s and take back the honour of fastest rookie from Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Indemitsu), who has largely been the man to watch in pre-season.

And the second quickest rookie was the newest on the block, Hafizh Syahrin (Monster Yamaha Tech3), as the Malaysian – who debuted in Buriram as he steps in to replace Jonas Folger – took 16th and was only just over a tenth off Morbidelli.

Behind Morbidelli, Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) was the fastest rider for Austrian factory in P14, just over a second off Zarco at the top, with teammate Pol Espargaro still affected by injury. Espargaro did get back on track after sitting it out on Friday and the Spaniard was three-tenths off his teammate.

The man completing the top 15 was Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), after an early foray much further up the time-sheets. The Noale factory had four 2018 RS-GPs in Qatar for the first time ahead of the first race of the year.

After the end of the dry track time, there was one last thing on the pre-season agenda – a wet test. After everyone was back in pit-lane, crews around the venue set about getting the track wet in order to test Losail both in the wet and under the floodlights.

Detailed results