Maverick Vinales

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.

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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 – 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.

MotoGP – Yamahas quickest on Day Two at Qatar

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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.
 

MotoGP – Viñales dominates testing at Phillip Island

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New kid on the Yamaha block Maverick Viñales has done it again at Phillip Island, going even faster on Day 3 to top the timesheets once more.

Fastest on Day 2 and fastest during testing at Sepang and Valencia, the Spaniard has hit the ground running on the Factory Yamaha – ending the Australia test ahead of the Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez in second and Dani Pedrosa in third.

Viñales put in a 1:28.549 early in his impressive day’s work; a time unthreatened until the final flag. Completing 101 laps and able to put in 1:28 laps in a row, the Spaniard also managed to rake in the laptimes in the 1:29 bracket in another ominous show of form.

His teammate – nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi – ended Day 3 in P11 and 0.921s in arrears. The “Doctor” did a best of 1:29.470 in the third session, but is bumped down to P12 on combined times.

The closest chasers to the impressive pace of Viñales were Repsol Honda duo Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa. Marquez, who did 107 laps on Day 2 and is the only other rider in the illustrious 1:28 club, did a best of 1:28.843 as he prepares for his title defence – with another impressive 96-lap workload completed. Pedrosa, who was ill on Day 2 and only went out on track for the afternoon, was back on form on Day 3 and put in 65 laps with a quickest effort of 1:29.033, just missing the 1:28s and slotting into P3 on both Day 3 and combined timesheets.

The fastest rookie on Days 1 and 2 kept his crown on the third and final day of testing, as Tech 3’s Jonas Folger shot up into P4. The German, who did an incredible 1:29.042, also suffered a crash but remained just ahead of 2016 Australian GP winner Cal Crutchlow on the LCR Honda. Folger’s teammate, double Moto2 champion Johann Zarco, ended the test in P15 on combined times with a 1:29.670.

With Crutchlow locking out the top five, another impressive rookie was hot on the Brit’s tail: Suzuki’s Alex Rins. Beating new teammate Andrea Iannone on the timesheets on Day 2 and repeating the feat on Day 3, Rins put in a 1:29.103 to end up only 0.002 off the number 35 on the combined timesheets – despite a small crash. “Maniac” Iannone ended up P13 overall and twelfth on Day 3, completing 77 laps in the final session with a best of 1:29.547.

Seventh and eighth was a Ducati Team lockout. Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo were separated by less than a tenth, and both completed more than 70 laps. “DesmoDovi” was in full testing mode for the team, with “Spartan” Lorenzo’s focus more angled at adapting to the Desmosedici. The Italian’s best was a 1:29.248, with the Spaniard just behind on a 1:29.342.

Local hero Jack Miller was the next man up, with the Australian impressing once again on the Marc VDS Honda after proving a constant force to be reckoned with in the top ten. 2016 Assen winner Miller did a best of 1:29.358 to line up just behind five-time World Champion Lorenzo.

Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro was another who impressed, taking P6 on Day 2 and locking out the top ten on combined times. The Spaniard, whose best lap was a 1:29.361, put in 65 laps on Day 3 for the Noale factory, with rookie teammate Sam Lowes adding another 57. Lowes’ best was a 1:30.200.

Espargaro’s compatriot Alvaro Bautista on a satellite Ducati was one of the few riders to not improve on Day 3, but his time from the second session is enough to keep him P11 on the combined timesheets – just ahead of Valentino Rossi. Former 125 World Champion Bautista’s best was a 1:29.411.

Pramac Racing’s Danilo Petrucci was the final rider in the top fifteen, taking P14 overall – just ahead of Zarco. The Italian, on the GP17 Desmosedici, did a 1:29.615 to end the Australian test just over a second off the best lap by Viñales.

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing made a huge leap up in laptime on the third and final day at Phillip Island. Both riders Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith put in laps under the 1:30 barrier, with the Spaniard’s best a 1:29.857 and the Brit’s a 1:29.978. Both within a second and a half of P1, the timesheets bode well for the Austrian factory as the road to Qatar gets shorter.

Next up is Losail International Circuit for another test – the last – from the 10-12 March, before the lights go out at the same venue later in the month and 2017 hits the gas.

 

MotoGP – Viñales tops the timesheets again on the second and final day of testing in Valencia

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Maverick Viñales is settling into life on board the Factory Yamaha well – fastest on day one at the Valencia test and then repeating the feat on day two for an amazing debut.

A 1:29.975 in the afternoon saw the former Moto3 World Champion take over at the top after completing 66 laps on his second day at Yamaha.

The difference between the Yamaha new boy and his veteran teammate couldn’t be more stark. While the Spaniard was encourage to ride around familiarising himself with the 2017 bike,

Valentino Rossi was in full testing mode, evaluating various swingarms over the course of his 45 laps. The nine-time World Champion put in a best of 1:30.709, good enough to secure him the seventh fastest time.

The Repsol Honda Team was also in full test mode, assessing a multitude of different engine and frame combinations and evolutions from 2016 and 2017, with reigning Champion Marc Marquez suffering a fall between Turns 1 and 2 after running on and losing his Honda as he grabbed a handful of gas in the gravel. Marquez did a total of 58 laps with a best of 1:30.171 and went second – doing some longer runs later in the afternoon, and taking advantage of the final minutes of track time for a practice start.

Dani Pedrosa was out the box a little later than his teammate Marquez, as he continues to recover from a broken collarbone and foot sustained at the Twin Ring Motegi, and while the ‘Baby Samurai’ only managed 38 laps on day two, including a good amount of time on the black liveried 2017 bike, the Spaniard ended the day in fifth, around half a second off Marquez.

Jorge Lorenzo was first out once again from his new Ducati Team pit box, eager to get down to work. It was another positive day for the Mallorcan in his new home, eighth fastest and only 0.035 behind former teammate Valentino Rossi on the Movistar Yamaha. The Spaniard’s best was a 1:30.744 after riding the 2017 bike for much longer than his first initial run on Tuesday, and Lorenzo ended the day with a practice start; one of the last on track as the sun began to set. 41 laps and many runs gathering maximum information was vital for the number 99, as he will not be allowed to take part in the Jerez test next week.

Andrea Dovizioso was the fastest of the Ducati Team on track on day two. Putting in 33 laps throughout the day, the Italian was third on the timesheets with a 1:30.443, 0.468 off Viñales’ best of the day. The Sepang winner tested both the 2016 and 2017 machines once again on day two, and will also sit out the Jerez test as the Ducati test team take over from him and Lorenzo.

Suzuki saw both riders crash, with Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins both falling at Turn 12.

Iannone had an eventful day, crashing on only his fourth lap, which resulted in the session being red flagged while the airfencing was replaced. He was forced to take to the track in an off-the-peg Dainese leather suit once the action got underway, his crash tally meaning he’d run out of his bespoke suits, and the hard charging Italian improved in the afternoon to go fourth.

Alex Rins was less fortunate. The rookie fell heavily only a few minutes before his teammate and was taken to the Medical Centre at the track before then going to hospital for further investigation – with initial reports of a compression fracture to vertebrae in his upper back. The Spaniard will be out for at least a month while he recuperates from his injures.

LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow was fastest Independent Team rider, fitting with the title he secured in 2016, and put in a best of 1:30.709 after completing 45 laps.

Aprilia Racing Team Gresini rider Aleix Espargaro impressed on his second day out with his new team, taking ninth on the timesheets with a 1:30.885, while teammate Sam Lowes opted to sit out day two after a late crash on day one, giving himself time to heal before heading back on track in Jerez next week.

The new Monster Yamaha Tech 3 duo of Jonas Folger and Johann Zarco had an impressive day two. Folger finished the session 0.067 ahead of the Frenchman on the timesheets and will be joining Movistar Yamaha at Sepang for another test in place of the Jerez choice of many of the other teams in the paddock.

Pramac Ducati rider Scott Redding put in 42 laps with a best of 1:31.118 to go thirteenth despite a crash, with temporary teammate Michele Pirro, standing in for Danilo Petrucci, finishing the day in 16th.

MotoGP – Viñales finishes day one of testing at Valencia as top gun

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Yamaha Factory rider Maverick Viñales has topped the first test day for the 2017 MotoGP season, stealing the top spot from teammate Valentino Rossi as the day wore on – an incredible statement of intent in his new home.

With a 1:30.930, Viñales beat his nine-time World Champion teammate by just 0.020 on the first day of testing, knocking Rossi, who had led the timesheets for some time, into second place.

The man Viñales has replaced, Jorge Lorenzo, was third quickest in his first outing with the Ducati Team – only a tenth off the top.

As the lights went out to signify the start of the first of 2017 testing, somewhere in the huddle of photographers there was a black-liveried 2016 Ducati preparing to meet its new rider: Lorenzo.

Quick to exit the pits once action was underway, Lorenzo took his time to gel with the new bike, but he was obviously happy – constantly smiling as he fed back to his new spotter, former world champion and Ducati test rider Casey Stoner.

One of the biggest stories of the day had a happy first chapter, as the number 99 settled into the top ten around six tenths down – and then went for a final blast around the lengthening shadows of the circuit on the 2016 bike to go red in the first two sectors and cross the line in P3 – only 0.122s down.
 
The ‘Spartan’ then did a short run on the 2017 bike he is expected to run tomorrow.

New teammate Andrea Dovizioso was running the 2016 bike in full red and the 2017 in a full black testing livery, ending the day in fifth with a 1:31.31. ‘DesmoDovi’ was also one of the riders testing new front forks from Öhlins, alongside Valentino Rossi and Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez.

Marquez finished the day third on the timesheets and a best of 1:31.102 after 53 laps saw the reigning World Champion slot into the timesheets just 0.050s behind Ducati’s new kid on the block Lorenzo.

Marquez’ teammate Dani Pedrosa also led the timesheets for a window in the middle part of the day, doing 42 laps despite his ongoing recovery from a broken collarbone and registering a best of 1:31.306 – 0.376 off Viñales’ best as the ‘Baby Samurai’ closed out the top ten.

The day also saw its fair share of fallers, with Turn 10 claiming a number of victims including Movistar Yamaha’s Valentino Rossi in the morning, as well as Red Bull KTM Factory racing’s Pol Espargaro and Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone – with the latter walking more slowly away from the scene as he tested his back following a cracked vertebra sustained in FP1 at Misano in September.

Indeed, 
Iannone impressed on his first day at Suzuki, fourth for much of the day before the crash and eventually ending up seventh on the timesheets, just behind fellow crasher Cal Crutchlow on the LCR Honda.

Crutchlow, as well as riding his LCR Honda, got a taste of a full Repsol Honda machine with LCR livery – ending the session with a best of 1:31.156 after 69 laps over the day. However, he also suffered a crash at Turn 14 – the same place he crashed out of the 2016 season finale.

Compatriot Scott Redding finished the day in eighth on the Pramac Ducati, ahead of 
Hector Barbera on the 2016 Avintia Ducati and Dani Pedrosa.