By Sports Reporter/Doha
Maverick Vinales of Movistar Yamaha emerged on top once again on the final day of pre-season testing, ahead of the Grand Prix weekend, at the Losail International Circuit.
Andrea Dovizioso of Ducati was Vinales closest challenger after also having gone quickest on Day 1, with Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa completing the top three on Day 3.
Vinales quickest time was 1:54.330 – the fastest lap on Day 3 and overall – as he beat Dovizioso’s time by only 0.071 on the final day. The gap over Pedrosa was smaller again, 0.068, with P4 closer still and only 0.050 in arrears. At fourth place was new Ducati recruit Jorge Lorenzo.
After the Borgo Panigale factory broke cover on a radical new ‘aero-fairing’ design on day two – put through some paces by Dovizioso – it was Lorenzo’s turn on the third and final day of testing. The five-time World Champion did 53 laps in total on Day 3, and showed his real progress since first taking the GP16 out for a spin in Valencia – a 1:54.519 and a tenth off his teammate.
There was more good reading for Ducati slightly further back. Alvaro Bautista had another impressive day of preseason as it came to a close, locking out the top five for Aspar on his GP16, just ahead of another good day for Octo Pramac Racing’s Scott Redding in P6.
Bautista also suffered a crash, alongside incidents for a number of other riders on the grid – including teammate Karel Abraham, Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar), Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing), Sam Lowes and Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) and reigning World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team).
Marquez, who completed the day in P10 on the timesheets, crashed three times before the close of action in the final session. The rider from Cervera also tested a new and more radically different fairing design on his Honda – radical compared to the first adjustment to have broken cover earlier in the test. His best on Day 3 was a 1:54.990, completing 47 laps. With one Yamaha rider at the top of the timesheets, nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi ended the final day of testing in eleventh.
The ‘Doctor’ had a Day 2 of two contrasting fortunes with a crash but a huge improvement and breakthrough in pace, before Day 3 saw a more muted presence on the timesheets. Rossi was, however, only two tenths off reigning Champion Marquez’ time.
The riders will be back at Losail International Circuit in two weeks’ time as Qatar hosts the opening GP of the year from the 23rd to 26th March another chapter in MotoGP history awaits.
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