Ducati’s Andrea Iannone set the pace on the first day of MotoGP testing in Qatar, dropping a 1:54.819 during the latter portion of his schedule. His time was just over one-tenth better than the fastest lap set in the 2016 season opener. Movistar Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales finished second-quickest three-tenths back followed by LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow in third.
Dovi is at home at Losail, having taken two podium finishes there the past two years. The Italian’s session was marked by a number of short stints on track, testing a variety of set-ups. He was pleased with his performance at the end of the day, commenting that his quickest time “came out quite easily.”
Vinales logged nearly twice as many laps as Dovizioso during the day and was feeling positive on the bike from the start.
“We’ve been to four different tracks and I feel good at each one,” said Vinales in a team press release. “This means I adapted well to the bike and we improved a lot. All the time we are bettering the race pace and each first and last lap on the same tire is quite similar, so I’m happy and I’m quite surprised that we improved on every run. We wanted to work a lot on the race pace, it’s important here. In Qatar it matters a lot to have a good pace because the tire drops quite a lot, especially on the left side. Tomorrow it’s our plan to make the tire life last longer and make the lap times more consistent, so we’re going to work on that.”
Pull & Bear Aspar’s Karel Abraham surprised with the fourth-best time, set on his final rotation of the day. He spent most of the session in uncompetitive territory dealing with a variety of issues, but during the latter laps the stars aligned and he found himself with a clear track on a fresh set of soft tires.
Dovi’s teammate, Jorge Lorenzo, followed Abraham in fifth. The Mallorcan may have been seven-tenths off the pace of the leader, but was very pleased with his performance describing it as the “best first day in all of the recent tests.” A look at the lap times shows that he was consistently logging 1:56 to 1:57 lap times. That’s a bit short of the string of 1:55s he set to win the round in last year’s race while with Yamaha, but a strong start nonetheless.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3’s Jonas Folger followed in sixth with Vinales’ teammate, Valentino Rossi, behind in seventh. Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa trailed in eighth with Tech 3’s Johann Zarco finishing ninth and Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Andrea Iannone in 10th.
Iannone was one rider to hit the deck during the test, though luckily he was unharmed in the incident. Red Bull KTM’s Pol Espargaro went down too, as did Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez.
“We can’t say today was one of the best for us, but it’s only day one and we worked hard on trying many, many different things, including a new fairing that we want to test further,” Marquez explained in a team press release. “Some of them worked well, while others must be adjusted. I’m not very worried about the fast lap because our rhythm wasn’t bad, so I’m satisfied with it. I had two small crashes; the first one was my fault as I braked a bit too late, while the second was a classic at this track as it came almost at the end of the session when the temperature had dropped and conditions weren’t good anymore. Anyway, tomorrow is another day, and we’ll work more on the bike’s setup for this track and try to improve.”
Testing continues tomorrow at the circuit with the opening race of the season scheduled for March 26.
2017 MotoGP Qatar Test Day 1 Results
1. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati) 1:54.819
2. Maverick Vinales (Yamaha) 1:55.179
3. Cal Crutchlow (Honda) 1:55.420
4. Karel Abraham (Ducati) 1:55.613
5. Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati) 1:55.616
6. Jonas Folger (Yamaha) 1:55.640
7. Valentino Rossi (Yamaha) 1:55.679
8. Dani Pedrosa (Honda) 1:55.692
9. Johann Zarco (Yamaha) 1:55.705
10. Andrea Iannone (Suzuki) 1:55.751
11. Danilo Petrucci (Ducati) 1:55.830
12. Marc Marquez (Honda) 1:55.899
13. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia) 1:55.916
14. Jack Miller (Honda) 1:56.017
15. Scott Redding (Ducati) 1:56.085
16. Alvaro Bautista (Ducati) 1:56.116
17. Loris Baz (Ducati) 1:56.193
18. Alex Rins (Suzuki) 1:56.589
19. Pol Espargaro (KTM) 1:56.665
20. Sam Lowes (Aprilia) 1:57.090
21. Tito Rabat (Honda) 1:57.455
22. Mika Kallio (KTM) 1:58.039
23. Bradley Smith (KTM) 1:58.755