2018 Qatar MotoGP Test Saturday 6pm Times: Zarco Fastest As Riders Start To Chase A Lap

Johann Zarco leads the MotoGP test in Qatar, beating Cal Crutchlow's quickest time from earlier in the day. The Monster Tech3 Yamaha rider put in three sub-1'55 laps in a row, including the one which beat Crutchlow. 

The LCR Honda rider is still second, with Danilo Petrucci third, but the timesheets are starting to change rapidly as riders try for a fast lap before 7pm. At this stage, multiple riders are chasing their best lap time, before attempting a long run or race simulation after 7pm, which is race time at Qatar.

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2018 Qatar MotoGP Test Saturday 5pm Times: Petrucci Leads Crucial Final Day

Danilo Petrucci leads at the halfway mark on the final day of the Qatar MotoGP test, the track busy for the last couple of hours despite the strong winds. The Pramac Ducati rider is the only man into the 1'54s at the moment, leading factory Ducati rider Andrea Dovizioso by nearly half a second.

LCR Honda rider Cal Crutchlow is third, a tenth behind Dovizioso, and another tenth ahead of Dani Pedrosa. The Repsol Honda rider had struggled on Friday, after banging his hand hard in a crash on the first day of the test.

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2018 Qatar MotoGP Test Friday Round Up: Marc Marquez Moves The Markers, Tires Matter, MotoGP More Art Than Science

There is a peculiar type of athlete mathematics. It involves a failure to grasp the concept of percentages, leading to elite athletes promising to give "110%", or sometimes even "1000%". Logic dictates that an athlete putting 100% of their effort and reserves into an activity would lead them to collapse and die of exhaustion as they crossed the line. That would deny them the joy of victory, but more importantly, it would drastically curtail an athlete's career to just a single event, making it a rather fruitless avenue to pursue.

Of course, what they actually mean when they talk of giving 110% is of course making the maximum effort to achieve a goal. Some, commendably, refrain from mathematic hyperbole, sticking to the 100% maxim. Marc Márquez belongs to this group, speaking of giving 100% during practice and races.

A case can be made that Marc Márquez is the rider who most closely approaches 100% while riding. The list of legendary saves the Repsol Honda rider has chalked up at tests and races seems to grow every time he gets on the bike. Of course, he gets plenty of chances to practice: Márquez had 27 crashes in 2017, second only to Sam Lowes. Respected motorcycle guru Kevin Cameron believes that Márquez' saves are not saves, but actually the result of a technique he studies. With every monster save Márquez manages, that gets harder to argue with.

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2018 Qatar MotoGP Test Friday Final Times: Iannone Fastest Overall On Second Day

Andrea Iannone has ended the second day of testing at Qatar on top of the timesheets, the Ecstar Suzuki rider putting in a quick lap at the end of the test to just squeeze ahead of Andrea Dovizioso. The factory Ducati rider ended the test in second, four hundredths of a second behind Iannone, but having done a quick long run at around race time. 

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2018 Qatar MotoGP Test Friday 8pm Times: Dovizioso Leads Through Race Simulation Hour

Andrea Dovizioso continues to lead the way at Qatar, the Italian putting in a long run between 7pm and 8pm, which is race time on 18th March. The Italian slightly improved his time, extending his advantage over the Tech3 Yamaha M1 of Johann Zarco to nearly a quarter of a second. Cal Crutchlow remains in third spot, while Maverick Viñales used a set of softer tires to punch into the top four on the Movistar Yamaha.

Times at 8pm:

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2018 Qatar MotoGP Test Friday 6pm Times: Dovizioso Under Lap Record As Pace Heats Up

As the sun starts to set in Losail, the MotoGP riders are picking up the pace. Andrea Dovizioso has broken the 1'55 barrier, diving under the race lap record of Jorge Lorenzo by a couple of tenths of a second. Tech3 Yamaha's Johann Zarco soon followed suit, clocking a 1'54.874, just a tenth of a second behind the Ducati rider. Andrea Iannone is currently third fastest on the Suzuki, half a second behind Dovizioso, while Marc Marquez leads Cal Crutchlow in fifth and sixth.

Times at 6pm:

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2018 Qatar MotoGP Test Friday 5pm Times: Dovizioso Leads After Slow Start

Andrea Dovizioso leads the second day of the final MotoGP test at Qatar, the factory Ducati rider having the slimmest of leads over the Hondas of Marc Marquez and Cal Crutchlow, while Aleix Espargaro holds the fourth quickest time on the Aprilia.

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2018 Qatar MotoGP Test Thursday Round Up: Another Chapter In Silly Season, And Yamaha's (Un)surprising Speed

The Qatar MotoGP test may be the moment of truth for the factories and riders, but the most important things we learned from the first day of the test were unrelated to the action on track, or perhaps even the 2018 season. The biggest news of the day came when Valentino Rossi spoke to the press, telling Italian media that he is close to signing on with the Movistar Yamaha team for another two years, meaning he will race in 2019 and 2020.

Rossi's revelation came in response to a question about whether the Sky VR46 team would be taking over the satellite Yamahas to be vacated by Tech3 from 2019. "Firstly, I didn't expect Poncharal to leave Yamaha," Rossi said. "So we considered possibly having a team in MotoGP. It would have been great opportunity, but we won't do it. For the next two years we won't do it, also because it's very likely I'll be racing. I see it as a possibility for the future, once I've stopped but not in 2019 or 2020."

Those are a remarkably information-dense couple of sentences. Firstly, Rossi acknowledges that he is close to signing a contract extension with Yamaha for two more seasons. This is hardly news – he was half expected to sign a new deal at the Sepang test, but it looks likely that any new deal will be done before the season starts. Secondly, he admits that the Sky VR46 Racing Team is interested in having a team in MotoGP. Again, this is hardly earth-shattering news.

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