Maverick Viñales was second on the first day of the #QatarTest, but the fastest man in Valencia, Sepang and Phillip Island struck back in style to top the timesheets on Day 2 – edging Movistar Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi with a lap quicker than Andrea Dovizioso’s Friday best. The 2016 Silverstone winner did a best of 1:54.455 after 49 laps, with a much-improved Rossi 0.277 in arrears. The nine-time World Champion also crashed on Day 2; suffering ‘holes to his fingers’.
Despite the timesheets being dominated by blue, it was Ducati’s new “aero-fairing” that stole the headlines – with a drastic new design unveiled in the latter stages of the second day on track. Similar in appearance to a whale shark, with wide mouth and open gills to the side, it was Andrea Dovizioso charged with the first public evaluations of the innovation. The Italian put in a best of 1:55.583 on Day 2, seven tenths down on his best from Friday. His Saturday laptime was set on the ‘traditional’ fairing tested and put him P13.
Teammate Jorge Lorenzo impressed on Saturday with more progress as he dropped into the low 1:55s, with a best of 1:55.344 to go to P8. The Spaniard was quick out the blocks and went on to complete 53 laps, despite suffering a small crash with no consequence. Fellow crashers on Day 2 included LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow, Jack Miller on the Marc VDS Honda, Danilo Petrucci on the Pramac Ducati, Alvaro Bautista on the Pull&Bear Ducati, Bradley Smith on the Red Bull KTM Factory bike and the Aprilia Racing Team duo of Sam Lowes and Aleix Espargaro.
Crutchlow got in more running on Saturday after losing some track time to mechanical gremlins on Day 1, ending the session in P4 despite the incident and managing 46 laps on the second day of action. The two-time GP winner was also top Honda once again, this time with a 1:55.032.
Reigning Champion Marc Marquez, however, kept it clean after two falls on Friday and ended the day in P6. The Spaniard set a 1:55.196 as his best, completing 50 laps. Teammate Dani Pedrosa had a tougher day at a track he finds more of a challenge, ending up P16 with a 1:55.875. Pedrosa was P3 at the end of the Phillip Island test and will be looking to move forward on the final day of Qatar.
Jonas Folger kept his crown as top rookie, putting in another stunner to complete the top three on his Monster Yamaha Tech 3 machine. Folger was the only rider able to join the Movistar Yamahas in the 1:54 bracket, putting in an incredible 1:54.917.
Aleix Espargaro finished Day 2 completing the top five for Aprilia despite his crash, with fellow Spaniard Alvaro Bautista also impressing in the top ten to put his Ducati GP16 in P7. Espargaro did a 1:55.121, Bautista a 1.55.245 in a close field.
Scott Redding had a much improved second day to pilot his Pramac Ducati to ninth with a 1:55.353 on his last lap of the day, with Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rookie and reigning Moto2™ Champion Johann Zarco completing the top ten on a 1:55.354.
Andrea Iannone was the fastest Suzuki rider in P12 on a mid 1:55, with teammate Alex Rins in P17. Rins tried the Suzuki “aero-fairing” for the first time on Day 2, ending the session ahead of the EG 0,0 Marc VDS pairing of Tito Rabat – returning from injury – and Jack Miller.
Red Bull KTM Factory racing trio Pol Espargaro, Bradley Smith and test rider Mika Kallio got through another big program of work for the Austrian factory on Day 2, with Espargaro the fastest ‘Bull’ on a 1:56.648.
The third and final day of preseason testing kicks off on Sunday at Losail International Circuit, before the venue then prepares for the first Grand Prix of the season – with the lights going out on the 23rd March.