Felice Monteleone – FMPhotoSport MotoGP News
“Viñales keeps his view from the top on opening day in Losail”
Top gun in preseason shoots first as action opens at the #QatarGP
After Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was quickest out the box, it was a familiar scene from preseason by the end of the first track action at Losail International Circuit – Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) on top and Repsol Honda Team’s reigning Champion Marc Marquez in second, 0.596 off P1.
67% humidity and a temperature of 22 degrees Celsius greeted the grid on Day 1, with a single practice session on Thursday at the Grand Prix of Qatar due to the altered timetable.
Viñales’ stunning chart topper of a lap was a 1:54.316 on a new tyre – only four tenths off the pole lap record set by then-rookie Jorge Lorenzo on his MotoGP™ debut in 2008, making a record-breaking weekend look even more likely.
Another scene familiar from preseason was Dani Pedrosa (Repsol Honda Team), who was third in the session – after the ‘Baby Samurai’ was the only rider other than Viñales to feature in the top five at every test in 2017.
Jonas Folger (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) had yet another impressive session, fastest rookie and taking P4 on the timesheets on a final dash – with Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) completing the top five as the quickest Ducati on track in his GP weekend debut in red.
Another incredible performance came from Reale Avintia Racing rider Loris Baz, who shot up into the top six on his final lap. LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow recovered from an early mechanical problem to take seventh, just ahead of the second fastest rookie Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3).
Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) was ninth quickest after a late improvement – but 1.483 off his new teammate Viñales and looking for a good step forward as the ‘Doctor’ managed on Day 2 of the #QatarTest. Aprilia Racing Team Gresini rider Aleix Espargaro completed the top ten.
There were crashes in FP1 for Sam Lowes (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) and Karel Abraham (Pull&Bear Aspar Team), with all riders ok.
The MotoGP™ field are back out on Friday and open the night at 18:00 local time (GMT +3).