MotoGP, Vinales dominates in Qatar too, Dovizioso is close

THE TIMES. Pedrosa is 3rd ahead of the Ducatis of Lorenzo, Bautista and Redding. Marquez and Rossi disappointing: 10th and 11th

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Four out of four, Maverick Vinales has concluded the Qatar tests at the head of the pack, just as he did at Valencia, Sepang and Phillip Island. From the moment the Spaniard climbed on the Yamaha, no-one has been able to beat him, regardless of the track or the conditions. At Losail he got his time down to 1’54”330, one good tenth quicker than yesterday.

He had a fight on his hands this evening in Qatar though, with the two factory Ducatis breathing down his neck, as well as Pedrosa's Honda. Dovizioso has to settle for the runner-up spot, just 0.071 behind, Lorenzo is 4th, also close behind (+0”189). Between the two Desmosedicis is Dani, who set his best time half an hour from the end, reducing the gap to 0”139.

This is the situation in terms of the flying lap, because it's race pace where Maverick really stands out, having concluded a 23-lap race simulation with a pace in the low 1’55s, aside from an occasional mishit. In this sense, Dovi, who also completed a long run, is about 3 or 4 tenths from Vinales.

Lorenzo can smile, proving that he can perform with the soft tyre. Jorge also briefly tested the new fairing and carried out a ten-lap long run, though without setting impressive times.

It's not just the GP17 that are flying at Losail, as Bautista and Redding also showed their stuff with the GP16. Alvaro completed an impressive flying lap (5th at 0”384) as well as a solid race simulation, with times only slightly higher than those of Dovi. Scott also did well to close in 6th place.

Folger also proved to be fast and consistent, the best of the rookies, closing 7th at 0”477. Jonas didn't fair badly in terms of pace either, with an interesting simulation, albeit it not at the level of the frontrunners. Team-mate Zarco also did well, finishing 9th, 0”570 from the front  Between the two Tech3 riders is Cal Crutchlow, who closed 8th and also demonstrated good race pace. The LCR rider ended his test with a crash.

Marquez and Rossi are far from satisfied, 10th and 11th respectively. For Marc (who also tested a new front fairing, but without any aerodynamic appendages) it was a night to forget with 3 crashes, fortunately without consequences. The world champion closed 0”660 from Vinales, able to duck under 1’55”.

Something that Valentino was unable to do, unlike yesterday. No long-run for the Doctor, while he saw the light at the end of yesterday's session, today he was in the dark, with less than impressive pace and a time that saw him close 0”855 behind his team-mate. In the combined standings, he finishes 6th overall.

The Suzukis didn't stand out either, Iannone is 12th almost a second from the front, and also suffered a couple of crashed, Rins is a little further back, 13th behind Abraham. The best Aprilia is that of Aleix Espargarò (who also crashed), 15th ahead of Miller and Baz. The Spaniard was unable to improve on his best time of yesterday, neither did Rossi and Rabat.

The last of the Ducatis is the GP17 ridden by Petrucci, with results far from those of a factory bike. Danilo is 18th, behind him there is only Lowes, Rabat and the KTMs. The Austrian manufacturer still has a long road ahead of it, Smith is 21st, more than two seconds off the pace, one tenth behind him is Pol Espargarò.

THE TIMES

Translated by Heather Watson

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