Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) took first blood as the third and final preseason test got underway at Losail International Circuit in Qatar, setting the fastest lap of the night and quicker than new teammate Jorge Lorenzo’s 2016 race lap record. Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda) completed the top three.
There were a number of high profile crashers – including reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) – and a Red Flag late in the session following a number of falls in succession at Turn 2.
At the front was ‘DesmoDovi’, who has been on the podium at Losail for the last two years and set a best lap of 1:54.819 to get under the race lap record of 1:54.927. The Italian put in 36 laps as work continues on the Desmosedici GP17, with no big visible aero updates for the Borgo Panigale factory in Qatar – yet. Dovizioso’s teammate, five-time World Champion Jorge Lorenzo, continued his steady progress of adaptation, ending an solid first day under the floodlights in P5 with a best of 1:55.616.
Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) had another impressive day in the office at Losail, as the fastest man in preseason so far ended Day 1 in second. A 1:55.179 was the 2013 Moto3™ World Champion’s best lap, 0.360 off the number 04 at the front. Teammate and nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi, who left Phillip Island outside the top ten on combined times, had an improved position after the first day in the desert – finishing up P7 with a 1:55.679.
Cal Crutchlow was the fastest Honda out the blocks, as the two-time GP winner put LCR Honda in P3 with a 1:55.420. The next Honda on the timesheets was Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa in P8 on a 1:55.692 – with reigning Champion Marquez in P12 on Day 1 with a 1:55.899. Marquez crashed twice on the first day, including a fall when first trying a new “aero-fairing” for his Repsol Honda machine.
The superstar of the first day was Karel Abraham (Pull&Bear Aspar Team), who took a stunning P4 with a 1:55.613. The Czech rider is returning from WorldSBK and got up to speed quickly on his Desmosedici GP15 in Qatar.
Jonas Folger was again the fastest rookie, as in Phillip Island, and the Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rider lined up just behind Lorenzo on the timesheets in P6, with a best of 1:55.640. French fellow rookie teammate Johann Zarco ended Day 1 in P9 in another impressive performance from both.
‘Maniac’ Andrea Iannone completed the top ten despite crashing; a 1:55.751 after 41 laps putting the Italian just ahead of compatriot Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) in P11.
Behind Marquez in twelfth, Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS) and Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Racing) completed the top fifteen.
Action continues on Saturday at Losail International Circuit, with two official days of testing now left until the lights go out for FP1 at the same venue on the 26th March.