MotoGP

Nicky Hayden – godspeed Kentucky Kid

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The racing world is in mourning after learning the sad news that Nicky Hayden has succumbed to injuries suffered during an incident while riding his bicycle last Wednesday.

Nicky passed away at 19:09 CEST this evening at Maurizio Bufalini Hospital in Cesena, Italy. His fiancée Jackie, mother Rose and brother Tommy were at his side.

Throughout his career Nicky’s professionalism and fighting spirit was greatly valued and carried him to numerous successes, including his childhood dream of being crowned MotoGP World Champion with Honda in 2006.

As well as being a true champion on the track, Nicky was a fan favourite off it due to his kind nature, relaxed demeanour and the huge smile he invariably carried everywhere.

Nothing says more about Nicky’s character than the overwhelming response expressed by fellow racers and his legions of fans over the past few days. Jackie and his family are truly grateful for the countless prayers and well wishes for Nicky.

The ‘Kentucky Kid’ will be sorely missed by all that ever had the pleasure of meeting him or the privilege to see him race a motorcycle around a track, be it dirt or asphalt.

The racing world says goodbye to one of its dearest sons. Rest in peace Nicholas ‘Nicky’ Patrick Hayden.

 

MotoGP – Jackass walks away from massive crash at Le Mans

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The most dramatic moment of the French MotoGP round undoubtedly came during FP4, when Jack Miller suffered a terrifying crash at Turn 2.

The Marc VDS pilot was following Marc Márquez and Danilo Petrucci through Turn 1 and was preparing to flick his satellite Honda into left for Turn 2 when the front end folded.

What happened next was frightening – the front tyre gripped again and sent Miller straight towards the wall on the inside of the track. Miller’s factory spec RC213V then veered towards the wall, sliding and straightening as it went before glancing the protective barrier. The impact was violent enough to throw the Australian off the bike, sending him cartwheeling through the gravel parallel with the wall.

It was a violent crash, yet Miller walked away virtually unscathed – a testament to today’s airbag technology – and after a medical check a shaken Miller took his place in Q2 on his spare bike despite the discomfort of football-size swelling on his right knee and bruised right hand.

Those injuries contributed to a second but harmless tumble at the final corner when he was set to improve his time in the final moments of qualifying.

Miller said: “I was happy to get back on the bike for qualifying after not feeling 100% after the crash in FP4. It was a nasty crash and I’m lucky to walk away with just some bruises. I had some locking on the front through turn one which sent me towards the wall and when I saw I wasn’t going to stop in time I let go before I hit the wall. In Q2 I went quicker on my first run but my hand was not perfect after the crash and I struggled to stop the bike on the brakes in the final corner and touched the kerb. A shame but I’ll be ready for the race after I get some ice on my hand and knee to get the swelling down.”

Respect.

 

 

MotoGP – Viñales wins, Rossi crashes out at Le Mans

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Yamaha’s Maverick Viñales delivered a stunning performance at the Grand Prix de France, taking his third victory of the season and the 500th Grand Prix win for Yamaha.

Viñales was strong right from the beginning of the 28-lap French round. Starting from pole, he flew off the line to take the holeshot and slotted into second as he dived into Turn 3, behind Tech 3’s Johann Zarco.

The Frenchman tried to build a gap, but the Spaniard, shadowed by his teammate Valentino Rossi, kept up and with 22 laps Viñales made a textbook move on the satellite Yamaha rookie to take over the lead.

Now at the front, the Spaniard put the hammer down. He did everything in his power to escape from Zarco and managed his pace to perfection, ensuring he held on to his P1 position until he got in a fierce battle with a rapidly approaching Rossi.

Viñales was leading on the last lap when the Doctor sensationally crashed out of the race as he tapped on the gas, allowing him to bring hisYZR-M1over the finish line, 3.134s ahead of Zarco.

Viñales said: “Keeping up with Johann in the early laps of the race was hard, he was really fast and with the full tank we were not so strong as him. He was exiting from the corners really good and really fast. Then his tyre started to drop a little bit and our tyre started to work good on the rear, and lap by lap I was feeling better. Until the end, in the last lap, I gave everything I had here in the French GP and, honestly, I’m so happy and so pleased. The team was working on an incredible level this weekend, I hope we can continue like that.”

Teammate Rossi enjoyed a day to forget. Having made a good start from second on the grid, he put his Yamaha in fourth position behind Marc Marquez after the first couple of corners, only to pass the Spaniard a few turns later. With Viñales in front of him, the factory Yamaha men rode in tandem as they chased the leader of the race.

Outbraking himself with 16 laps to go, the Italian lost some time, which left him within the grasp of Marquez.The Doctor responded quickly to the situation and upped his pace as the Spaniard crashed out of the race, allowing Rossi to focus on the battle in front. With five laps to go, he overtook Zarco for second place, making it a perfect factory Yamaha1-2, but the nine-time World Champion was hungry for more.He attacked Viñales on Lap 26 but his teammate slipped back past him as the scrap continued and Rossi made a small mistake as he asked for the gas, losing the rear and sliding out, losing valuable championship points in the process.

Rossi said: “It was a great shame, because for my team it was the best weekend of the season, where I was more competitive on the track, also in the wet, but especially in the race.

“For sure, for me this could have been the best result of the season. It was very difficult because the pace was always very high, but at the end I felt comfortable on the bike, I had a good feeling, so I tried to attack. Unfortunately, on the last lap I made a mistake in Turn 6 and I fell back a little, so Maverick could overtake me. I knew I had another chance, because we were very close and I tried to remain there, because in sector 4 I was good.

“Sincerely, what happened during the crash, we don’t understand. Usually you have to pay attention to the front, but I lost the rear when I crashed. Anyway, I made a mistake, and it’s like this. It is a great shame to go back home with zero points. First of all, I’m very sorry for missing out on the probable victory and also for losing the lead in the championship, because I lost points. For me, it still has been a good weekend, I was strong. Now we have to start thinking about the next race track, I hope to ride there like I did this weekend. We hope to continue like this.”

Viñales’ first place earns him 25 points. This puts him on 85 points and in the lead in the championship standings, 23 points ahead of Rossi in third place. The 500th Grand Prix win also sees the Yamaha MotoGP Team hold the lead in the Team standings by 21 points, with a total of 147 points, while Yamaha remains the top manufacturer in the Constructor’s Championship by a 13 point margin, with 108 points.

MotoGP – Yamaha locks out front row at dramatic Le Mans qualifying session

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Yamaha factory riders Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi dug deep in a dramatic qualifying session at Le Mans to claim a superb first and second place respectively.

In fact it was a dominant performance for the Japanese manufacturer, with rookie sensation and local hero Johann Zarco piloting his satellite bike to the final place on the front row.

Viñales and Rossi went all out in an intense 15-minute qualifying session at the Le Mans Bugatti Grand Prix race circuit , and having topped FP4, Viñales was one of the last men to leave pit lane, finding some free track space and going directly on the attack. He took the top spot with his first flying lap, a 1’33.134s, before being pushed back to sixth place when the pace quickened.

With more than seven-and-a-half minutes to go, he came into the pits for a fresh set of rubber. Two minutes later the Spaniard was back on track, now in seventh place in the timings, and had just enough time left for three more hot laps. He rose to the challenge and produced a strong 1’32.146s for provisional pole, but further underlined his incredible speed with a 1’31.994s on his next lap, that earned him his second pole position of the season.

Rossi also flexed his muscles during the 15-minute shoot-out. He was quick to head out to make the most of the time available, but decided to let some chasing riders pass at the end of his first hot lap. He moved up to second place on his third attempt, before heading back to the box with six minutes remaining.

The Italian continued his efforts one-and-a-half minutes later, setting another personal best lap that moved him up from fourth to second, despite having to avoid a crash from Jack Miller that happened right in front of him. The Doctor still had some time left for a final push, and improved his time to a 1’32.100s, to keep a strong hold on second place, ahead of Johann Zarco, who made it a full Yamaha front row.

Polesitter Viñales said: “It was a tricky qualifying, because the track was not at its best, but anyway our bike is really good here. We knew we could do it, so I just tried to concentrate and push to the best of my ability and bring home the pole position. We have to be really careful with the weather, we also have to pay a lot of attention if we have a flag to flag, a wet race or even on the dry, we still have to improve. We have to work tonight and try to improve for tomorrow.”

MotoGP – dominant Pedrosa writes his name in the history books with Jerez win

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Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa gave a riding masterclass on his way to victory at the Gran Premio Red Bull de España at Jerez.

The Spaniard, starting from pole position, led the race from the first corner to the chequered flag, and set the race’s fastest lap on the way to taking his 30thwin in MotoGP – the 53rdin his career.

In winning the 3,000thGrand Prix race ever held, Pedrosa also earned the Repsol Honda Team’s 100thvictory in the MotoGP class and became the only rider to have won at least one race for 16 consecutive years.

Pedrosa got the holeshot from a great start off pole position, with team-mate Marquez slotting in behind ahead of an almighty tousle for third. LCR Honda rider Crutchlow was initially ahead of that battle, with Tech 3’s Johann Zarco tangling once again with championship leader Valentino Rossi on the Factory Yamaha until the flying Frenchman set off on a charge, taking bike after bike in now-signature style.

Arriving behind reigning Champion Marquez into third, the rookie held station for a lap as Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo fought back in a tight midfield, getting past the Yamaha pair of Rossi and then Maverick Viñales. Zarco then took Marquez at the final corner, heading off after Pedrosa in the lead until the reigning Champion hit back.

It proved to be an incident packed race and drama struck further back as Jack Miller on the Marc VDS Honda and Alvaro Bautista on the Aspar Ducati collided and slid out, before Cal Crutchlow then lowsided into the gravel at Criville – followed shortly by the Red Bull KTM machine of Pol Espargaro. After a short tussle with Viñales, Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone also tumbled out with 17 laps to go.

The gap fluctuated at the front but Marquez was unable to make any real impression on Pedrosa’s lead, with the three-time World Champion pulling the pin in the final laps to cross the line in clear air for another stunning win – making it 16 years in a row the Spaniard has taken at least one victory in the world championship.

Reigning champion Marquez settled for second, with Lorenzo finishing third to taking his first podium with Ducati. Zarco took fourth in another scintillating performance from the rookie, ahead of an impressive fight back for Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso, who managed to get past Viñales after the Spaniard made a mistake.

Pramac Ducati’s Danilo Petrucci stormed back through from P13 on the grid to follow Viñales over the line, with Tech 3’s Jonas Folger putting in a solid ride once again to take eighth.

Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro was another who moved through the field, incredibly taking 2016 Jerez winner and championship leader Valentino Rossi for ninth – the ‘Doctor’ found his pace in freefall in the latter laps of the race, struggling with tyre life in the hot temperatures to complete the top ten – but retaining the Championship lead.

Pramac Ducati’s Scott Redding had a much improved race in 2017 to take P11, ahead of Hector Barbera and teammate Loris Baz on the Avintia Racing Ducati’s. Bradley Smith took more points for Red Bull KTM Factory Racing in P14 after an awesome show for the Austrian factory in Jerez, with Karel Abraham on the Aspar Ducati locking out the top fifteen.

Pedrosa said: “I’m super-happy with this win in Jerez, a track that I love very much, and in front of my family, my friends, and all these amazing fans. I’m enjoying this emotion so much, more than I would’ve done a few years ago, in a more ‘conscious’ way. I’ve had a great feeling all weekend, and the team have worked so well; we’re getting better race by race and I’m very happy for them as well.

“We knew we were in a position to have the race we actually did. I felt the tension a little bit before the start, but I remained concentrated and got away well at the start and just went for it.

“Today the track conditions were a bit worse than yesterday and the front was sliding quite a lot. I chose the hard front because of today’s high temperature, even if the medium was my favourite. The pace probably would’ve been faster with the medium, but anyway I was happy with my choice.

“When Marc started to push, we started a little battle like yesterday in qualifying. I knew he was very fast but I was determined to keep a gap on him. It was easy to make a mistake, to lose the front, so it was a matter of staying on the limit without going over it.

“It’s also a special honour to be the winner of the 3,000th Grand Prix race and be alongside riders like Mick (Doohan, who won race number 2,000) and Angel (Nieto, who won race number 1,000).”

After Pedrosa’s stunning domination on home turf, the championship heads to  Le Mans with Rossi now two points clear of Viñales, Marquez just behind and Pedrosa now fourth in the standings – only ten points back.

MotoGP – rampant Pedrosa storms to pole at Jerez

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Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa took an incredible pole position in qualifying for the Gran Premio Red Bull de España, securing the top spot with a sensational flying lap in the final minutes of the session at Jerez.

The Spaniard took  his 29thin MotoGP and the 47thin his career, edging teammate Marc Marquez by just half a tenth in a breath-taking battle for the top spot, with LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow in third completing  an all-Honda front row for the first time since the German GP in 2014 (at the Sachsenring).

Pedrosa has looked rejuvenated at Jerez, leading every session this weekend apart from today’s FP4, riding consistently fast in every condition. It will be Pedrosa’s first start from pole since Malaysia in 2015, and he’ll do so at the 3,000th Grand Prix of the world championship.

Factory Yamaha rider Maverick Viñales took fourth to head up the second row ahead of Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone , with rookie Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3) in sixth.

Fourteen world titles start the Spanish GP from the third row, with Championship leader Valentino Rossi in seventh on the second Factory Yamaha just ahead of Ducati Jorge Lorenzo. Tech 3’s Jonas Folger is ninth in another solid showing for the German rookie.Jack Miller backed up his Friday pace with direct entry to Q2 and a top ten start on his Marc VDS satellite Honda despite a crash, with Pramac Ducati’s Scott Redding in eleventh and Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro in twelfth.

Pedrosa said: “This was probably one of the best poles of my career because it was a really hard battle. It was a strategic end of the session with Marc there right behind me, so for a moment I wasn’t sure if I should push or not. There was no choice anyway, so I just went for it. I’m very happy because our main target for the GP was to be on the front row. The feeling was really good, and it has been good all weekend, so I told myself, Okay, let’s try it. It has been a while since I’ve led in qualifying; I’ve struggled a lot last season so I’m very happy with today.”

MotoGP – Viñales wins incident-packed Argentina race

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Yamaha’s Maverick Viñales gave another riding masterclass in an incident-packed MotoGP race at the Termas de Rio Hondo circuit in Argentina, taking the win to become the first Yamaha rider since Wayne Rainey in 1990 to win the first two races of the year.

It was reigning Champion Marc Marquez on the Repsol Honda who leapt into the lead from pole, with Rossi another electric starter from seventh on the grid. In the rush for Turn 1, Marquez led Crutchlow as the pack shuffled behind, with the reigning champion pulling out a significant leand as the Brit backed up the chasing factory Yamaha pairing of Viñales and Rossi.

Viñales soon attacked Crutchlow to take P2, before Marquez suddenly hit the floor at Turn 2 – having been almost two seconds clear.

That mistake gifted Viñales the lead with Crutchlow and Rossi on the chase, the gap holding steady just above half a second – before the man of the moment began to pull away. That left the ‘Doctor’ to hunt down Crutchlow, with the two holding station until Rossi struck with 7 laps to go, getting past the Brit in style at Turn 5 and pulling away for a second consecutive podium in his 350th World Championship start. LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow completed the podium in style as top Independent Team rider.

Viñales said: “We did a great job. We made the tyre decision already this morning. I feel really great! The tyre’s grip level was really good the entire time. I feel pretty strong and Michelin is doing a great job, I feel really happy and confident. It’s like we are in a dream.”

The racing behind the top three was intense, and there was all-out war for P4 as Dani Pedrosa on the Repsol Honda battled to get past Danilo Petrucci on the Pramac GP17 Ducatti, with Johann Zarco on the Tech 3 Yamaha), Alvaro Bautista on the Aspar Ducati and Andrea Dovizioso on the factory Ducati also in the mix.

After a short and spectacular duel between Pedrosa and Zarco, the Spaniard broke free to set the fastest lap before crashing out of the race in the same place as teammate Marquez had done a handful of laps earlier.

Even then, the drama wasn’t done as Dovizioso went wide at Turn 5 soon after, allowing Aleix Espargaro to fire his Aprilia on the inside line before spectacularly losing the front – sliding helplessly into the Italian and taking both riders out the race.

Behind Crutchlow, it was another fantastic day for the independent teams as the dust settled, with Bautista taking fourth and Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rookies Zarco and Jonas Folger taking fifth and sixth. Petrucci, after running out of rear grip, crossed the line in a solid P7 – ahead of a good ride from his teammate Scott Redding at the head of the next group.

Jack Miller piloted his Marc VDS Honda to another top ten result in ninth behind Redding, with front row start Karel Abraham taking his Aspar Ducati to tenth, just fractions of a second ahead of Loris Baz, who had been forced wide on the opening lap by a falling Lorenzo on the factory Ducati, the five-time world champion riding into the back of Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone.

MotoGP – Viñales shines, Lorenzo crumbles in season opener at Qatar

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Rain, delays and uncertainty all combined to create a spectacle at the opening race of the season, one which is easy to criticse but difficult to manage – unless you’re, Maverick Viñales, who kept his cool to deliver a riding masterclass on his competitive debut on the Factory Yamaha.

A stunning start from Ducati’s Andrea Iannone from P2 was soon overshadowed as rookie Johann Zarco slammed his Tech 3 Yamaha into the lead in the first laps, getting away and making a gap as Viñales found himself falling back into the clutches of teammate Valentino Rossi.

The Tech 3 rider looked comfortable at the front, pulling out a gap before sliding out of the lead soon after – leaving ‘DesmoDovi’ out front.

With the number 4 Ducati getting away in the lead, Iannone then crashed out of the fight for second – leaving reigning Champion Marc Marquez on the Repsol Honda, Viñales and Rossi chasing the leading Desmosedici. After a dramatic scuffle between the #46 and 93, the ‘Doctor’ set off in pursuit of his teammate.

And then there were three: Viñales, Dovizioso, and Rossi.

It wasn’t long, however, before there was some fresh air between the leading two and The Doctor, a battle which saw Viñales’ corner speed pitched against the sheer might of the Ducati. After trading places for a few laps and the race impossible to call, the Spaniard was then able to hold off the Italian on the penultimate lap – and made it to the line to take his second MotoGP win; his first in Yamaha colours.

Viñales said: “I feel incredible and it shows in the results. We did a great job during the whole weekend and we started good in the test, then in FP1 we were already feeling really good.

“The race was difficult, it started to rain and there was a bit of confusion because we didn’t know what to do. The first laps were very challenging, the track was so slippery and I wanted to take it easy and stay calm. I knew I had a good pace, so I tried to push at the very end of the race.

“There were many crashes at the front, so I waited for the right moment and finally we took the victory. The feeling when I crossed the line was incredible. As the first victory with Yamaha, it was even more important than the first MotoGP victory, because there was so much pressure. We were leading all the test, “You can do it”, and finally we did, so I’m happy how I handled the pressure and also that the team worked really good. The electronics were ready and the grip of the tyres was really good on the last laps. The third sector was honestly so crucial, because Andrea [Dovizioso] used the soft tyres, so he collected the benefits and could accelerate better all the time and he didn’t waste the tyre, so it was hard to beat him, but in sector three I was really strong the whole weekend.

“I set my best sector three on the last lap and it was the minimum to take the victory, it’s really great, I’m so happy. I hope for a perfect start in Argentina. The start here was good, but I just went outside of the line and when Zarco came he crashed into me, so I had to pick up the bike and then Marquez and Dovi passed me so it was a bit chaotic on the early laps, but then I was able to concentrate. We have to continue like that and maintain this concentration.”

Reigning champion Marquez crossed the line fourth, just ahead of teammate Dani Pedrosa by the flag – who took fifth after getting the better of Aleix Espargaro on the Aprilia; Espargaro’s result was a historic first top six for Aprilia in the stunning first ride in Noale colours for the rider from Granollers.

Impressive performances from Scott Redding on the Pramac Ducati and Jack Miller on the Marc VDS Honda saw the two men come home in P7 and P8, with Suzuki’s Alex Rins top rookie in P9 – just ahead of YamahaTech 3 rider Jonas Folger, who completed the top ten.

It was a difficult ride for Ducati’s Jorge Lorenzo, with the wet conditions once again messing with the Spaniard’s head. He went wide on the first lap after a solid start, down to near the back of the grid after carefully rejoining and then beginning a steady fight back through the field. Up into tenth with 12 laps to go, the ‘Spartan’ crossed the line in P11 by the end of play – a disappointing end to his debut. And one which must have Ducati wondering whether the money they’ve spent enticing Lorenzo into the red corner would have been better spent coaxing their test rider into coming out of retirement; Stoner would definitely not have folded in such a spectacular fashion.

 

MotoGP – rain plays havoc in qualifying at Qatar

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After overnight rain, a storm and too much standing water on track at Losail International Circuit, the qualifying session was cancelled by Race Direction – conditions were deemed too dangerous for riders to get out on track.

That means qualifying was decided by the combined times after the end of FP3, and Yamaha’s Maverick Viñales will start from pole, his first for the factory, with Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone and reigning Champion Marc Marquez on the Repsol Honda joining him on the front row.

The second row sees top rookie Johann Zarco on the Tech 3 in fourth, Andrea Dovizioso on the factory Ducati Team in fifth and Scott Redding on the Pramac Ducati in sixth.

The third row is Dani Pedrosa on the Repsol Honda, Jonas Folger on the Tech 3 and Cal Crutchlow on the LCR Honda.

Nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi heads up Row 4 in tenth, ahead of Danilo Petrucci on the Pramac Ducati. Jorge Lorenzo is in 12th on his debut with the Ducati team.

Maverick Viñales, said: “It’s been very strange, and strange that it rains in Qatar! From FP1 I’ve felt really good and I did a great laptime, riding much faster than qualifying from last year so we are happy we can ride like that and have a good pace for tomorrow.

“We want to try to make our own pace, make some last adjustments in the warm-up, it will be important to end that with a good feeling. Try to make the race and hope the weather can be good. It was difficult today, it wasn’t good for wet tyres or dry tyres – it was too risky to go out. For me it’s safety first and it’s tricky conditions. The plan to prepare the race – full tank, used tyres – was for FP4. So we’re disappointed we couldn’t do that and we’ll try tomorrow. For everyone who can’t do the work they want, it’s always a bit disappointing.”

Andrea Iannone, P2: “For us it’s important to start from the first row and it’s the best for tomorrow. But it’s difficult for us because we don’t know what will happen in the race. Maverick and Marc have good pace we saw from the test, and we have to recover. Tomorrow we’ll try our best in the first lap and in the race. But the practice before is also important because we need the information to improve. Today safety is more important and it’s too dangerous to go out on track. It’s the same for everyone and the most important thing now is tomorrow.”

Marc Marquez, P3: “Today it’s important because it’s time to prepare for the race. For us, yesterday we tried a lot of things. On the first day I felt good with one base, yesterday I tried a lot of things and today was the time to look at it all and prepare for the race. But it’s the weather and we can’t do anything. It’s too dangerous because it’s been heavy rain all night and this morning so we’ll see tomorrow. Starting on the front row for me is a good result – it’s not the best way to achieve it – but it’s a good result and tomorrow we’ll try to fight for the podium.

“Warm-up will be important – but here we’ve done more than 300 laps this weekend, and during the test. Everyone knows what the possibilities are for the race – and we know a podium would be a great result for us. I don’t know if the grip will change a lot for us tomorrow or not. I think for us in MotoGP the grip will be ok because before we have the Moto3 and Moto2 races. But I hope they can dry the track, and that the weather keeps stable until tomorrow – and we’ll see how the grip is. We can find the feeling again, and then start the season well.”

MotoGP – Vinales is top gun at Qatar

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Yamaha’s Maverick Viñales completed his royal flush of incredible preseason form by the end of the Qatar test, topping the time sheets once again on the final day of testing.

Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso was the closest challenger after also having gone quickest on Day 1, with Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa completing the top three on Day 3.

Viñales’ quickest was a 1:54.330 – the fastest lap on Day 3 and overall – leading ‘Desmo Dovi’ by just 0.071 on the final day. The gap back to Pedrosa was smaller again, 0.068, with P4 closer still and only 0.050 in arrears. The man in P4 was new Ducati factory pilot Jorge Lorenzo.

After the Borgo Panigale factory unveiled its radical new aero package on day two, which was first tested by Andrea Dovizioso, it was Lorenzo’s turn on the third and final day of testing; alongside the more traditional fairing design of the Desmosedici. 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 work by Ducati riders slightly further back. Alvaro Bautista had another impressive day of preseason as it came to a close, locking out the top five for Pull&Bear on his GP16, just ahead of Pramac’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 on the Suzuki, Danilo Petrucci on the Pramac Ducati, Sam Lowes and Aleix Espargaro on the Aprilias and reigning world champion Marc Marquez on the Repsol Honda.

Indeed, it was a bruising day for Marquez, who completed the day in P10 on the timesheets after crashing three times before the close of action in the final session. However, the Spaniard managed to test 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. But it was the other Repsol Honda which was the faster of the two on Day 3, with Dani Pedrosa flying the flag in P3. A 1:54.469 for the ‘Baby Samurai’ took back the honour of top Honda and moved the Spaniard up more than ten places on his position on Day 2. LCR Honda’s Crutchlow ended Day 3 in P8, with a best of 1:54.821.

Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rookies Jonas Folger and Johann Zarco continued to impress, with Folger again fastest rookie in P7 at the end of Day 3, with a 1:54.807. Zarco was P9 by the end of the day, less than a tenth off his German teammate.

Nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi ended the final day of testing in eleventh. The Italian 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.

Andrea Iannone took P12 despite his crash as Karel Abraham split the Suzukis in thirteenth just ahead of rookie Alex Rins. Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro ended the final day of preseason in fifteenth, after running much further up the timesheets earlier in the day.

Next up? Same venue, same faces, and a very different reality. Two weeks remain until race day, as Losail International Circuit hosts the first GP of the year from March 23-26.