Maverick Vinales tops day two at Qatar but Ducati’s new nose steals the show
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 (Ducati Team) 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; but Rider Ok.
Careful progress over the winter paved the way for a positive outcome for Viñales today. He built on his strong result from previous tests in an effortless fashion to top the timesheets early on in the session and he successfully defended his lead from a late charging Rossi and Jonas Folger, resulting in a Yamaha top 3.
Clearly happy with his race set-up, the Spaniard spent most of the day fine-tuning his YZR-M1 in order to be 100% ready for the upcoming first MotoGP round in Qatar. Vinales concluded the second day with a total of 49 laps and a fastest time of 1’54.455s under his belt, earning him first place in the combined standings.
“I feel good. We need some further improvements, but anyway, I felt good from the first day, so I tried to do my best. We‘re trying to keep the lap times really consistent and on the same pace. Today we made another step and I hope tomorrow we can improve a little bit more, but I think we can be happy about our set-up and if the race was right now, we would be ready, for sure. I still want to improve on the braking points to be faster, but we still have tomorrow to continue testing.”
Teammate Rossi proceeded to better his feeling with the Michelin front tyre, especially on corner entry. He tried various setting modifications to improve braking stability and made a comparison between set-ups to get a clear sense of which direction he will work on tomorrow.
The Doctor had some bad luck when he suffered a lowside crash in the earlier stages of the session, sustaining small cuts on his left hand. However, it didn‘t stop the Italian from signing off with a 1’54.732s for second place in the combined results, set on lap 37, an hour before the end of the session.
“We did some big modifications and on the second exit in turn 7 I lost the front. Unfortunately I have some pain, a few holes in my fingers, but I’m OK. We improved the pace and the lap times a lot. We also bettered the feeling with the bike. I suffered a lot during the winter test and I was never really strong, so today‘s lap time is important. Tomorrow we‘ll try to continue the pace like this to understand our level. From the first time on the new bike, I didn‘t have enough feeling on the front, especially to enter the corner fast. We modified a lot of things. I have to say thank you to Yamaha, they gave me a lot of support, especially after the test in Phillip Island, which was very bad. We have arrived at the front now, so it‘s OK. We just have to modify the bike, the setting and everything.”
Massimo Meregalli – Yamaha MotoGP Team Director
“Today was a good and productive day for us, which shows in the results. We, the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team, secured a 1-2, and it was a top three for Yamaha, showing the strength of the YZR-M1. We got a lot of work done today and this provides us with a good understanding of what final things we need to address tomorrow. Maverick is very comfortable with his bike-setting and shaping up nicely for the race weekend. He‘s looking very competitive already, posting quick and consistent lap times, and we are confident that with the last tweaks on the setting tomorrow we can make another step. Vale suffered a crash at the beginning of the session, which damaged his first bike but was a blessing in disguise. Though he injured his hand slightly, the incident forced him to continue work on his second bike, which gave him the feeling with the front that he had been looking for during the winter season, enabling him to make a good step today. Our testing schedule is almost completed, tomorrow we aim to do a race simulation with both riders, which will give us important information for the upcoming racing weekend.”
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.
Dubbed the “Hammerhead” after MotoGP asked fans on Twitter to name the new design, 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 thus far and put him P13.
Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 42 laps – 1’55.583 (13th)
“Today was an unusual day because we encountered conditions that were very different from yesterday, both with the humidity and the track grip, but in my opinion it was in any case very important to also lap in this situation. For sure today was more difficult than yesterday, and we used all the session to do a lot of tests and even though the times were not so good in the final classification, it was a very productive day. In the evening I also did a couple of exits with the new fairing: in my opinion, our engineers have done a great job because it wasn’t easy to create a certain aerodynamic downforce without using the winglets. Now we are weighing up the pros and cons before we take a decision and also work out the tracks where this solution can give the biggest advantages.”
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 ‘Spartan’ was quick out the blocks and went on to complete 53 laps, despite suffering a small crash with no consequence.
Jorge Lorenzo (Ducati Team #99) – 53 laps – 1’55.344 (8th)
“It’s not very easy to draw conclusions from today, also because I was one of the few riders who did not use the soft tyre, with which I could have probably made a significant improvement on my time. At any rate one of the positive things from this session is that we have improved on yesterday’s time by three-tenths of a second. Regarding the settings, today we didn’t try anything significant, but we still have some things planned which we will test tomorrow. In general I’m quite satisfied with the small progress we are making every day and tomorrow we will try and get the best out of the soft tyres to improve our times.”
Fellow crashers on Day 2 included Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda), Jack Miller (Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS), Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing), Alvaro Bautista (Pull&Bear Aspar Team), Bradley Smith (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini 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.
Cal Crutchlow – 4th – (1’55.032 – lap 43 of 46)
“Today was not a bad day, we’re happy enough with what we’ve achieved. We again lost some time with a small technical problem. But we’re very happy with how the Team and Honda work to try to fix it again so I could go out and do some laps with one of the bikes. We tried some small settings and we’ve found some positives and some negatives. I’ve tried to use the soft tyre at the end of the session but unfortunately I crashed in the last corner, pushing too hard and it was completely my mistake. But we’re happy with the lap time on the medium tyre.”
Reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), 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.
Marc Marquez – 6th 1‘55.196
“The impression is much better that yesterday. Today I’m quite happy, as we worked really well and made the correct steps. We were missing something during the day but in the last run we found something interesting for tomorrow. We’ll try to keep working in this way, which I believe is the right one. At the moment our rhythm isn’t bad, but we need to do better. This track isn’t one of the best for us, but we still have another day and we’ll try to make the best of it, working especially on the electronics side. The base isn’t bad; today we tried something that didn’t give the results we were hoping for, but we’ve planned something for tomorrow that we hope will allow us to improve.”
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.
Dani Pedrosa – 16th 1’55.875
“Today it was difficult to manage as the track was quite different from yesterday; it didn’t have much grip. That’s why we didn’t go for the fast time but instead worked to improve the feeling. Step by step, we improved a bit but not enough. We tried a long run as well, almost race distance, to understand the bike’s behaviour and in the end it wasn’t bad. We hope that tomorrow we can have a better feeling. We’re at a better point compared to last year at this stage of the season, but there are some areas that we need to understand more. We’re still trying to get as much information as we can before the first race.”
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.
Jonas Folger – Position: 3rd – Time : 1’54.917 – Laps: 41
“It was another good day and I am very happy because we made constant steps forward and even if they are small, we always seem to be making progress. When we started, the team and I confirmed some settings, which we needed to look at, and this improved things with the bike. I then ran a half race simulation for 12 laps at the end of the session in order to raise my confidence a bit when the bike has a full tank of fuel and this was important to do after the fall that I had at the Phillip Island test. All in all, the simulation itself went well and I was able to run quick and consistent times at the end of it. Therefore, we can be very pleased with what we accomplished and I want to thank the team for their efforts today, they are all doing a really good job and I am enjoying riding the Yamaha.”
Whilst double Moto2 World Champion Johann Zarco concluded another highly constructive day where he built up his speed before finishing in 10th and just 0.158 behind Marc Marquez.
Johann Zarco – Position: 10th – Time: 1’55.354 – Laps: 45
“The second day here was interesting but positive overall. Once again, I worked on the Yamaha as well as myself but things went better than yesterday because I felt more comfortable which allowed me to ride faster and more consistent lap times, and that is encouraging. Step by step I can improve and I understand how I can achieve this. This is important and I know now that in order to ride a fast lap, I need to be able to make the most of the tyre on the opening laps. Sometimes, I don’t always do this and although I feel good after the tyre has completed a bit of distance, I know that I need to push as soon as I get out on the track. Therefore, if we work well tomorrow and if I can make a quick lap at the beginning when the tyres are fresh, then I am certain that I can finish the third and final day in a very positive way.”
Aleix Espargaro finished Day 2 completing the top five for Aprilia despite his crash, with fellow Independent Team rider 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.
Espargaro’s time on the RS-GP is the best result yet that the 2017 Aprilia has achieved in testing, only on its third outing of the season. Beyond the excellent time achieved, the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini Spaniard put 34 laps on the sheets, continuing development of the new bike and obtaining positive feedback throughout the long day of tests.
Aleix Espargaro – Aprilia – 1m55.121
“I had good sensations today, despite the crash on a fast turn that cost us the time. We were unable to test everything that we had planned to, but we definitely took a big step forward in terms of setup. Especially going into turns, which was one of the biggest limitations yesterday. Tomorrow we’ll continue working on the geometry in preparation for the race and, above all, we’ll be doing a long run.”
Pull&Bear Aspar riders Álvaro Bautista and Karel Abraham confirmed their good impressions from yesterday with another positive performance, the Spaniard finding half a second off his best lap almost immediately, although his plans were set back slightly by a small crash. Once he returned to the track Bautista continued to work on improving stability and turning, with the aim to complete a race simulation tomorrow. Karel Abraham banked a race simulation today, racking up almost twenty laps in fast and consistent times. The Czech rider also clocked his fastest lap of the evening when riding along at the end of the session, which secured eleventh place overall.
7th Álvaro Bautista 1:55.245 (48 laps)
“Today we made some more detailed changes after finding a decent base to start from yesterday. These small modifications allowed me to focus more on my riding and getting references because the bikes wasn’t changing much between runs. We focused on our race pace on used rubber and tried a few alterations to find more stability. In Australia we found something that we might have confirmed here but we have to keep working on stability and on turning. The place I am struggling most is on the gas in corner exit. Anyway, we have taken a step forward in confidence and feeling. Let’s see if we can improve the set-up tomorrow and complete a race run of twenty laps on used rubber.”
11th Karel Abraham 1:55.420 (46 laps)
“We are happy because we have done a satisfactory race simulation, I was able to set some fast and consistent laps. At the start of the day we tried some small modifications to the electronics and the chassis. On my last exit we put some new tyres in but, like yesterday, I wasn’t able to follow anybody so I rode alone and even so I was able to improve my best time from yesterday by two tenths. I had a little crash at the end of the day but the bike and me were fine.”
Scott Redding (Octo Pramac Racing) had a much improved second day to take ninth with a 1:55.353 on his last lap of the day, just behind Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rookie and reigning Moto2 Champion Johann Zarco who had completed the top ten on a 1:55.354.
9th – Scott Redding – 1’55.353
“It has been a very good day. Things went well also yestarday and it was an important base because we worked a lot on the feeling with the front end. Today I found confidence from the first lap, soon having the feeling that the direction was the right one. We have also managed to improve the corner speed and this was an important thing. For the first time in these winter testing I feel this is my bike again.”
Andrea Iannone was the fastest Team Suzuki Ecstar 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.
Iannone’s focus stayed fixed on developing the set-up and electronic configuration, the sort of low-profile job that hopefully will pay back as preparation for the race. He is still encountering a lack of sensitivity with the front end, which has been investigated by the team and is still under evaluation in order to find some solutions.
Andrea Iannone – P13 – 1:55.545
“Despite the position in the classification, we can be positive, especially if thinking forward to the race. We have made some important improvements compared to yesterday, but these are mainly on the pace. Indeed, I was able to do all my best laps with worn tyres, which is a good sign for the consistency, but I’m still struggling with the single lap efficiency. When I put on a new tyre for some reason, I cannot be as effective as I’d like, and this prevents me from doing a very fast time attack. For example, in the last attempts I’d been as fast as some top riders until T3, but then in the last sector I lost nearly 0.5s from my own best time. This is because I feel a lack of confidence with the front of the bike and so I cannot be effective in the last corners of the fourth sector. We have a lot of grip at the rear, which consequently pushes a lot to the front. We are working on this, but it’s a job that requires much patience and many attempts to find the effective compromise. I’m confident we will be able to make some improvements tomorrow.”
Positive progress was also made by Rins. He was able to finalise some better set-ups that allowed him to feel more confident on the bike and he also tried the new fairing again that had already been introduced in Australia. The result of all this work done by the riders is the collection of an important amount of data that will be useful to the engineers.
Alex Rins – P17 – 1:56.110
“The truth is that this day has been positive. We were able to try many things and got some important information. I also tried to push harder to find the limit, and I didn’t incur any crashes, and this is really positive. For sure we still need to improve and get a better performance on the lap time. Tomorrow we will have to be very focused and finalise all the modifications we have tried in order to put together a competitive package. Also, the pace is good as I stayed in the 1.56 bracket.”
Davide Brivio – Suzuki Team Manager
“Today has been a busy day, let’s say. We had to test many things. At the end, we couldn’t put everything together and we still have some things to be fixed. Andrea is still struggling with the feeling of the front of the bike, but we have already worked on some ideas and we still have some others; as well as in the electronics, we have room to improve. We already made some steps forward, but we couldn’t find the ‘full package.’ His ideal time is better than the actual position, but we couldn’t get a good one for the classification. Alex, as well, is struggling with the front end. He wasn’t able to perform as he wanted; although we made some improvements with him as well. We have some ideas. Some of them we applied today and some others are still in the works. We still need some time to put everything together and finalise a solid performance.”
After devoting the first testing day to the development of the Ducati Desmosedici GP 2017, Danilo Petrucci began working on the set up of his bike. Following a good start, the rider of Fiamme Oro occurred in a crash without consequences, as a result loosing a bit of confidence.
14th – Danilo Petrucci – 1’55.680
“I am not happy with how things went today. At first the circuit conditions were not optimal and I struggled to find the right feeling. We started to try something new but the crash has forced me to stay too long at the box taking off even a little confidence. Tomorrow we will try a long run to get ready for the race. I am sure that we can do better. I just have to find some confidence back.”
Reale Avintia Racing team rider Loris Baz, completed the second day of testing at Qatar with a really positive feeling. 21 of the 42 laps he did today at the 3,34 miles circuit, were a race simulation. Following the race simulation the Reale Avintia Racing French rider went out again with a set of fresh tyres and pushed for a fast lap, ending the day 15th on the timesheet with a time of 1’55.808.
Loris Baz – 1’55.808 – P15
“It was another good day at the office and I’m happy. At the beginning the feeling was not so good as yesterday, but we refined the set up of the bike and we were able to improve. Today we worked with the tyres for the race, I think that for us will be the rear hard and the front soft, and we did a race simulation with positive results. Of course I would go faster, but to be my first race simulation I was quite happy with the result. After the simulation I did went out again pushing for a lap time, and I think it was not so bad, because I did it on my own and I was not pushing and tacking risks. I’m very happy because is the first time I enjoy riding the bike for a long time, and for me this is the most positive fact of this test.”
Tito Rabat, who is still recovering from the injuries sustained in his Sepang testing crash, completed 48 laps of the 5.38km Losail circuit, as he worked to improve acceleration out of the turns. The former Moto2 World Champion posted a time of 1’56.214, an improvement of two tenths over his fastest lap from yesterday, to finish 1.759s from the top spot in P18.
Tito Rabat – 18th – 1’56.214
“It’s been a very positive second day for me here in Qatar. Most importantly we are working in a good direction with the bike and each change we make brings some improvement. While I’m happy with today and I think we’ve done a good job, we need to continue in the same way tomorrow. Our biggest issue at the moment is getting the bike to turn and drive from mid-corner to exit. We focussed on this area today and we will continue to work on this tomorrow, as this is where we can win the biggest gain. My physical condition is still a limiting factor right now; the knee is a little painful after five or six laps but the biggest problem is that I lack upper body strength. This is a result of not being able to train properly since the Sepang crash, but the good news is that this is easily remedied between now and the first race.”
Miller completed a total of 59 laps today, more than any other rider, as he continued to refine the set up of his Honda RC213V to better suit the characteristics of the latest specification engine. The 22-year-old Australian had a minor tumble early on in the session when he ran wide at turn one and lost the front, but remounted to return to the pit box.
Jack Miller – 19th – 1’56.251
“Today has been a busy day, which you can see from the number of laps we completed, because we had so much to test on the bike. Basically the team are working to get the bike to work the way I want it with the latest engine while at the same time I’m adapting my riding style to get the best from both. The change in the bike now compared to the bike I was testing before isn’t huge, but there are differences, such as how you’ve got to open the gas, so it’s just a case of adapting. Overall it’s been a positive day, even with a fall at turn one early on when I ran onto the dirty part of the track and dropped the front. I didn’t get to set a lap time today, but I was happy with my pace, especially on the last 14-lap run when I was consistently in the 1’56 bracket. Tomorrow we’ve got a couple of soft tyres to throw into the bike, so we’ll see what we can do in terms of the lap time then.”
Sam Lowes, who tested the 2017 Aprilia for the first time yesterday, also continued progressing, shaving more than 8 tenths off of his time from Friday and stopping the clock at 1’56.276, a performance that earned him twentieth place at the end of the day.
Sam Lowes – P20 – Aprilia – 1m56.276
“Today was another good day for us. We did not run into any trouble and we were able to further reduce the gap behind the central group of riders, which was our goal for the first race. I feel like I’m beginning to understand the RS-GP better. We did some tests and had some positive responses and others not so positive, but everything helps me to have a clearer idea of which direction to go and to convey my needs to the mechanics. I am particularly pleased with the work we did, especially because I was quite consistent on used tyres and that, more than the flying lap, leads to good results in the race.”
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 2017 – Qatar Test – Day Two Times
- M. VIÑALES MOVISTAR YAMAHA MOTOGP 1’54.455
- V. ROSSI MOVISTAR YAMAHA MOTOGP 1’54.732
- J. FOLGER MONSTER YAMAHA TECH3 1’54.917
- C. CRUTCHLOW LCR HONDA 1’55.032
- A. ESPARGARÒ APRILIA RACING TEAM GRESINI 1’55.121
- M. MARQUEZ REPSOL HONDA TEAM 1’55.196
- A. BAUTISTA PULL & BEAR ASPAR TEAM 1’55.245
- J. LORENZO DUCATI TEAM 1’55.344
- S. REDDING OCTO PRAMAC YAKHNICH 1’55.35
- J. ZARCO MONSTER YAMAHA TECH3 1’55.354
- 1K. ABRAHAM PULL & BEAR ASPAR TEAM 1’55.420
- A. IANNONE TEAM SUZUKI ECSTAR 1’55.545
- A. DOVIZIOSO DUCATI TEAM 1’55.583
- D. PETRUCCI OCTO PRAMAC YAKHNICH 1’55.680
- L. BAZ AVINTIA RACING 1’55.808
- D. PEDROSA REPSOL HONDA TEAM 1’55.875
- A. RINS TEAM SUZUKI ECSTAR 1’56.110
- T. RABAT TEAM EG 0,0 MARC VDS 1’56.214
- J. MILLER TEAM EG 0,0 MARC VDS 1’56.251
- S. LOWES APRILIA RACING TEAM GRESINI 1’56.276
- P. ESPARGARÒ RED BULL KTM FACTORY RACING 1’56.648
- B. SMITH RED BULL KTM FACTORY RACING 1’57.267
- M. KALLIO RED BULL KTM FACTORY RACING 1’57.688
MotoGP 2017 – Qatar Test – Combined Times from Day One and Day Two
- Maverick VIÑALES, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – 1:54.455 – In Session 2
- Valentino ROSSI, Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – 1:54.732 +0.277 – In Session 2
- Andrea DOVIZIOSO, Ducati Team – 1:54.819 +0.364 – In Session 1
- Jonas FOLGER, Monster Yamaha Tech 3 – 1:54.917 +0.462 – In Session 2
- Cal CRUTCHLOW, LCR Honda 1:55.032 +0.577 – In Session 2
- Aleix ESPARGARO, Aprilia Racing Team Gresini – 1:55.121 +0.666 – In Session 2
- Marc MARQUEZ, Repsol Honda Team – 1:55.196 +0.741 – In Session 2
- Alvaro BAUTISTA, Pull&Bear Aspar Team – 1:55.245 +0.790 – In Session 2
- Jorge LORENZO, Ducati Team – 1:55.344 +0.889 – In Session 2
- Scott REDDING, Octo Pramac Racing – 1:55.353 +0.898 – In Session 2
- Johann ZARCO, Monster Yamaha Tech 3 – 1:55.354 +0.899 – In Session 2
- Karel ABRAHAM, Pull&Bear Aspar Team – 1:55.420 +0.965 – In Session 2
- Andrea IANNONE, Team SUZUKI ECSTAR – 1:55.545 +1.090 – In Session 2
- Danilo PETRUCCI, Octo Pramac Racing – 1:55.680 +1.225 – In Session 2
- Dani PEDROSA, Repsol Honda Team – 1:55.692 +1.237 – In Session 1
- Loris BAZ, Reale Avintia Racing – 1:55.808 +1.353 – In Session 2
- Jack MILLER Marc, VDS Racing Team – 1:56.017 +1.562 – In Session 1
- Alex RINS, Team SUZUKI ECSTAR – 1:56.110 +1.655 – In Session 2
- Tito RABAT, EG 0,0 Marc VDS – 1:56.214 +1.759 – In Session 2
- Sam LOWES Aprilia, Racing Team Gresini – 1:56.276 +1.821 – In Session 2
- Pol ESPARGARO, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing – 1:56.648 +2.193 – In Session 2
- Bradley SMITH, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing – 1:57.267 +2.812 – In Session 2
- Mika KALLIO, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing – 1:57.688 +3.233 – In Session 2