Maverick Vinales tops day two but day one time remains quickest of the weekend thus far

Maverick Viñales (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) kept his top spot on the combined timesheets after FP3 at Losail International Circuit, with his Friday stunner remaining unchallenged by the grid. The Spaniard also suffered his first Yamaha crash in an official session earlier in the day.

Maverick Vinales
Maverick Vinales

Maverick Viñales kicked off the session showing his usual quick and consistent pace. A small slide down the track, ten minutes into the session, cost him a bit of time, but it didn‘t do any damage to his placement in the provisional rider rankings. Having posted 1m55.378s earlier, he held first place in the provisional standings for most of the session, until the pace quickened at the very end. The young Spaniard escaped any injuries and rushed back to the pit box to continue his practice schedule, but was unable to improve on his time and ended the FP2 session in fifth place, +0.293s from first.

Maverick Vinales
Maverick Vinales

The Yamaha debutant showed his mental strength in the second 45 minute session and continued work as if the incident had not taken place. At the end of FP3, he reclaimed his place at the top of the timesheets. Proving the earlier slip-up didn‘t affect him one bit, he set a fastest time of 1m54.834s on his very last lap. However, that was not enough to beat his own stunning 1‘54.316s lap from the day before, which sees him sail through to Q2 on his first Yamaha race weekend.

Maverick Vinales – P1 – 1m54.316 (FP1) – 1m54.834 (FP3)

“The crash in FP3 was a big mistake on my part. Honestly, I was pushing and ran a little bit wide and it was at that point where you have to decide to run wide or try to go into the corner and I tried to go into the corner and lost the front. It was my mistake and I was angry with myself because I can‘t tolerate mistakes, but I‘m happy anyway because we had a really good pace today, even when the track conditions were not as good as yesterday. It was very slippery but finally, when we got the tyre to work, we set many consistent 1‘55 laps, so I‘m quite happy about that. I didn‘t feel so good on the bike on the soft tyre, so I didn‘t push to the limit. I was trying to keep up a good pace. The bike is working great, we just have to improve the grip a little bit. Maybe today‘s weather conditions and the rain added a bit of dust on the track, so we will have to check that tomorrow, but I‘m happy overall, apart from the stupid mistake.”

Maverick Vinales
Maverick Vinales

Andrea Iannone (Team Suzuki Ecstar) was the late superstar of FP3, moving up from P17 to second overall and just beating reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) to P2.

Andrea Iannone – P2 – 1m54.848 (FP3)

“Already in FP2 today we were able to improve a little the feel of the bike and things went better and better, little by little. At the end, we tried a new setting as a result of all the information we had gained and it proved to be effective. We are very satisfied with the result we achieved, but that´s it, because the most important thing is the race. We still have to work on finding a confident pace. With the soft tyre, now the machine is behaving well, I have a good feeling that it will pay off. We still have some little issues we can improve on and so we will work on these areas to prepare the race distance.”

Andrea Iannone
Andrea Iannone

Marc Marquez – P3 – 1m54.912 (FP1) – 1m55.296 (FP3)

“Today the track was a bit different from yesterday and it was more demanding to find the pace and a fast lap. Yesterday I had felt very good, but today we made many changes to the bike, looking for more grip and to improve on corner exit, but we didn’t get the results we were hoping for. So now we’ll re-check everything, and tomorrow we’ll take a little step back with the settings. A positive point from today is that we again found the confidence in the front that was missing yesterday. Also, the feeling on used tyres this afternoon wasn’t bad. Anyway, we still have work to do to improve our rhythm to be able to fight for the podium on Sunday.”

Marc Marquez
Marc Marquez

Behind Marquez was an impressive dash from reigning Moto2 Champion Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha Tech 3), who took over from his teammate Jonas Folger as fastest rookie on the overall timesheets. 

Johann Zarco – P4 – 1m55.008 (FP3)

“I am very happy with our performance today. The work that the team and I did was really good and going straight through to QP2, and being ready for it, is important for many reasons, but also because we can save some tyres. In all honestly, I was not completely confident on the first day due to the track conditions, even though my position was positive. However, today my confidence increased and I was a bit lucky because in the final session, whilst I was using the soft tyres, I followed Maverick and I learnt a lot from him, plus I improved my lap time. It was a job well done for today and now I will keep focused for the qualifying. Additionally, I will prepare for the race as much as possible because I think that if I am strong for 22 laps, then I can finish with a big smile on my face on Sunday.”

Johann Zarco
Johann Zarco

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) completed the top five overall after the three sessions, ahead of FP2’s fastest man Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Racing). Redding also suffered two incidents in FP3 – with damage to his fairing followed by a late crash. 

After finishing second in FP2 with a time of 1’55.185, Andrea Dovizioso improved in FP3 to record a lap time of 1’55.042. This result put the Italian into fourth place on the day and fifth in the combined free practice sessions, and it means that he will take part in Q2, which is scheduled for 0500 Australian Eastern Daylight Savings Time.

Team-mate Jorge Lorenzo had a tougher day today, and after going eighth quickest in FP2 with a time of 1’55.604, he finished FP3 in ninth despite improving to 1’55.461. The rider from Mallorca finished the first two days on aggregate in twelfth place and tomorrow he will have to take part in Q1, the top two riders going on into Q2 immediately after.

Andrea Dovizioso – P5 – 1m55.042 (FP3)

“Even though today’s conditions were not as good as those we encountered in the recent tests, we were able to get through a lot of good work to try and get the best set-up for the race. It’s not easy to find a set-up that is suitable for the little grip on the track, and now we also have to decide whether or not to use the medium rear tyre for the race. So, if the track is dry tomorrow, we will probably try the soft tyre again as well. At any rate, in both sessions we were always amongst the top riders, and we showed we have good speed.”

Andrea Dovizioso
Andrea Dovizioso

Scott Redding – P6 – 1m55.085 (FP2)

“I am very pleased with the work we have done today. The feeling is very positive and it gives me a lot of confidence. The crash? I was still trying to improve and I knew that the only way to improve was to push harder in turn-2 but I crashed. Fortunately it was a crash without particolar consequences. I’m happy for this and also for having gained a precious Q2”.

Scott Redding
Scott Redding

Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa was seventh fastest, only 0.028 off the Brit.

Dani Pedrosa – P7 – 1m55.113 (FP3)

“In today’s first session we started making some little changes to the setup to continue improving our feeling. However, the day wasn’t the best for getting good feedback because the rain and sand made the surface very dirty and the grip very low, especially during the earlier session. In the end we just decided to not change the setup so much and to wait for the track to improve a little bit in FP3, when we worked for the race. Tomorrow we’ll see what weather we have, as we’d like to improve the mapping and the bike’s general setup a little bit more, besides trying to make a good tyre choice.” 

Dani Pedrosa
Dani Pedrosa

Jonas Folger – P8 – 1m55.208

“Today went very well for me and I was able to lower my lap time from the first practice. However, in FP3, I went out on used tyres and I tried to reach the limit but then I fell. This was a shame, but we are not far from the fastest time and we have a good bike for tomorrow so I am sure that we can do a solid job. I would be really happy if I could qualify in the top ten, yet my main target is to produce the lap time that I managed to ride in the test. This means that I have to improve by 0.4 of a second, but we will have to see what happens with the weather because there may be rain. However, it does not matter if it comes, as we are ready and I am happy with everything so far.”

Jonas Folger
Jonas Folger

Behind Folger was fellow crasher LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow, who took ninth despite the late incident.

Cal Crutchlow – P9 – 1m55.211

“The second session tonight saw really bad conditions, the wind was really bad and it was difficult for anyone to go faster, but I knew that I had to. I then crashed at the end of the session and I’m absolutely raging about it. Firstly, because I got baulked on my fast lap by riders trying to follow others, then it happened again on the lap before I crashed, which meant I had to roll off and my tyres cooled right down.”“Apart from that I felt good and felt strong in the later session, we were actually sixth quickest in that practice alone, but we still have work to do. The Honda is difficult to ride at the moment, but we are knuckling down and I feel the team is doing a good job and I’m riding well. I honestly don’t know what to expect from qualifying because it’s so difficult to go fast here. It seems that when we do more laps put together then we’re better than on a one-off lap.” 

Cal Crutchlow
Cal Crutchlow

Nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi (Movistar Yamaha MotoGP) just completed the top ten as the last of those graduating automatically to Q2 – in by 0.021.

Valentino Rossi – P10 – 1m55.514

“Today we started in a good way, because in FP2 I wasn‘t doing so bad and I set my best lap time. We still needed to improve, but in FP3 I suffered from a lack of grip and was more in trouble. At the end, I also had a problem with a sensor. We had to change the rear suspension for another one with another setting that wasn‘t fantastic. I did just one lap and I wasn‘t able to improve my time of FP2, but the good thing is that we stayed in the top10, so tomorrow we can start from Q2 and we‘ll see. We have to work: I‘m still not able to enter the corners fast enough and I suffer a bit, so we have to try to make that better. I think for me personally it will be difficult to do the whole race on the softer tyre, so we are now more open to using the medium tyre.”

Valentino Rossi
Valentino Rossi

Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team) had a tougher second day, ending twelfth on combined times and missing the cut by only half a tenth. The rider from Mallorca finished the first two days on aggregate in twelfth place and tomorrow he will have to take part in Q1, the top two riders going on into Q2 immediately after.

Jorge Lorenzo – P12 – 1m55.461 (FP3)

“Today we tried to change a few things from yesterday and we used a setting that allowed us to improve our pace on race tyres. Nevertheless in some parts of the circuit we were unable to go any quicker, and this configuration was not enough to allow me to do a very quick lap in view of qualifying. Our aim for tomorrow is to search for the best compromise possible to be able to make another step forward. On the one hand I am happy with my pace, but I can’t be satisfied with the time I set on new tyres.”

Jorge Lorenzo
Jorge Lorenzo

Australia’s Jack Miller improved his pace from night one by an impressive 0.5s, which left him just under 0.4s outside of the top 10. Confident he could mount a strong challenge for the top 10 to secure automatic passage into tomorrow evening’s Q2 session, Miller was unable to further improve his pace in the decisive FP3 session.

Jack Miller – P6 – 1m55.958

“Grip has been the main issue throughout the whole weekend but I don’t think my lap time in FP3 reflects my feeling on the bike or where I think we should be. I feel we have got a lot more speed than I showed. In FP2 I felt really good and I could improve my pace by a substantial margin, even though track conditions were a lot worse than last night. I was confident I could improve again in FP3 but when I put in a new soft rear tyre I felt it lacked a little bit of grip. And it was hard to improve the time because the wind had drastically picked up. Managing the bike became a lot harder and it has not been ideal for lap times but I felt with last night’s crash I’d blown my chance of challenging for Q2 a little bit when the track was in its best condition. I’ll keep pushing and hopefully I can come through Q1.”

Jack Miller
Jack Miller

Rabat’s evening was a carbon copy of Miller’s experience, with a big improvement coming on a dirty and greasy track in FP2 before he was unable to find more crucial tenths in FP3. The Spaniard finished just 0.4s behind Miller on the combined rankings and he is optimistic he can beat his previous best premier class qualifying result of 18th in tomorrow night’s action.

Tito Rabat: 19th – 1’56.368

“I feel quite strong on the bike but the issue is that in the second session you start to see some humidity on the visor. And then you see some crashes and it makes you be calmer. I feel we have made good progress throughout the weekend so far but we know we have to improve further. I understand in my head where we can improve and that was not the case for most of last season. Last year I had so many crashes and sometimes it is better to take a step back to try and be calmer and cleverer to be more competitive. If I can find more pace in turns 12, 13 and 14 then I know we can make a good race and be fighting in a strong group.”

Tito Rabat

The grid head out for FP4 at 19:55 local time (GMT + 3) on Saturday evening, before Q1 chooses two more graduates for Q2 – and then first grid of the year gets decided…

MotoGP 2017 – Round One – Qatar – Day Two Combined Free Practice Times

  1. VINALES Maverick 25 SPA Yamaha Factory Racing Team 1’54.316
  2. IANNONE Andrea 29 ITA Team Suzuki Ecstar 0.532
  3. MARQUEZ Marc 93 SPA Repsol Honda Team 0.596
  4. ZARCO Johann 5 FRA Monster Yamaha Tech 3 0.692
  5. DOVIZIOSO Andrea 4 ITA Ducati Team 0.726
  6. REDDING Scott 45 GBR Octo Pramac Racing 0.769
  7. PEDROSA Dani 26 SPA Repsol Honda Team 0.797
  8. FOLGER Jonas 94 GER Monster Yamaha Tech 3 0.892
  9. CRUTCHLOW Cal 35 GBR LCR Honda 0.895
  10. ROSSI Valentino 46 ITA Yamaha Factory Racing Team 1.098
  11. PETRUCCI Danilo 9 ITA Octo Pramac Racing 1.119
  12. LORENZO Jorge 99 SPA Ducati Team 1.145
  13. BAUTISTA Alvaro 19 SPA Pull&Bear Aspar Team 1.265
  14. BAZ Loris 76 FRA Reale Avintia Racing 1.308
  15. ESPARGARO Aleix 41 SPA Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 1.318
  16. MILLER Jack 43 AUS Team EG 0,0 Marc VDS 1.643
  17. ABRAHAM Karel 17 CZE Pull&Bear Aspar Team 1.687
  18. RINS Alex 42 SPA Team Suzuki Ecstar 1.863
  19. RABAT Tito 53 SPA Team EG 0,0 Marc VDS 2.052
  20. BARBERA Hector 8 SPA Reale Avintia Racing 2.409
  21. LOWES Sam 22 GBR Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 2.538
  22. ESPARGARO Pol 44 SPA Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 2.800
  23. SMITH Bradley 38 GBR Red Bull KTM Factory Racing 3.338

MotoGP 2017 - Round One - Qatar - Day Two Combined Free Practice Times
MotoGP 2017 – Round One – Qatar – Day Two Combined Free Practice Times

Franco Morbidelli and Alex Marquez fly in FP3

Italy's Franco Morbidelli lead the way in Moto2 today
Italy’s Franco Morbidelli lead the way in Moto2 today

Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) and teammate Alex Marquez topped the timesheets in Moto2’s solo session of the second day in Qatar, with a 2:00.349 for the Italian pipping his teammate by just 0.023.

2015 Moto3 World Champion Danny Kent (Kiefer Racing) was just behind his predecessor to that throne in P3 – and the fastest Suter machine. The Brit ended FP3 just ahead of Day 1’s fastest Tom Lüthi (CarXpert Interwetten). Lüthi’s compatriot and Kent’s teammate Dominique Aegerter (Kiefer Racing) moved up in the latter stages to complete the top five.

An impressive performance from Xavi Vierge (Tech 3 Racing) on the Tech 3 machine put the Spaniard in P6, ahead of Fabio Quartararo (Pons HP40) – who was the fastest rookie in FP3. Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Ajo) put in a late dash on the new KTM Moto2 machine to end the session in P8.

Marcel Schrötter (Dynavolt Intact GP) and Jesko Raffin (Garage Plus Interwetten) completed the top ten.

Jorge Navarro (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) was P11, with 2016 Misano winner Lorenzo Baldassarri (Forward Racing Team), Axel Pons (RW Racing GP) and Hafizh Syahrin (Petronas Raceline Malaysia) filling the timesheets down to fourteenth. Fastest in the recent Moto2 test at the track, Takaaki Nakagami (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia) completed the top 15.

Remy Gardner endured a tricky time, despite his best efforts, as he worked hard to amend a grip issue. Nevertheless, the young Australian produced his quickest time of the weekend, which put him only one second from the top, and in 23rd in the overall times.

Remy Gardner – P23

“It was tough for us today and I feel like we could have done better, but tomorrow is another day and we will do our best once again. In FP3, the issue was that I wasn’t comfortable with the front of the bike and this obviously limited me. However, we resolved some of the chatter from yesterday and that is a solid positive, and we’ve definitely made steps forward with that. Yet, I was hoping for more, especially with the new tyre at the beginning of the practice. We need to push on now and see what we can do to improve for tomorrow.”

Remy Gardner
Remy Gardner
MotoGP 2017 - Round One - Qatar - Moto2 Day Two Combined Free Practice Times
MotoGP 2017 – Round One – Qatar – Moto2 Day Two Combined Free Practice Times

Jorge Martin sets the Moto3 standard on Day Two

Jorge Martin (SPA) celebrates a good session with a wheelie
Jorge Martin (SPA) celebrates a good session with a wheelie

Jorge Martin (Del Conca Gresini Moto3) was the fastest rider in the third practice session for the lightweight class at Losail International Circuit, topping the timesheets with a 2:06.817 – also the fastest lap of the weekend so far. The top three was completed by Romano Fenati (Marinelli Rivacold Snipers) and Philipp Oettl (Südmetall Schedl GP Racing).

Red Bull KTM Ajo sophomore Bo Bendsneyder was fourth fastest after another impressive session, just ahead of teammate Niccolo Antonelli, who was a late mover up into the top five. Sky Racing Team VR46 rider and Day 1 crasher Andrea Migno was sixth, just ahead of EG0,0’s Aron Canet.

Juanfran Guevara (RBA BOE Racing Team) was P8, with SIC Racing Team Malaysian Adam Norrodin in ninth. British Talent Team rider John McPhee completed the top ten in FP3, after Nicolo Bulega (Sky Racing Team VR46) had a laptime cancelled and was pushed back to P11.

That’s it for the lightweight class on Friday – with the field next on track for qualifying at 18:00 local on Saturday (GMT + 3).

MotoGP 2017 - Round One - Qatar - Moto3 Day Two Combined Free Practice Times
MotoGP 2017 – Round One – Qatar – Moto3 Day Two Combined Free Practice Times