The Snipers Team dominated the first day of testing for the Moto3 class at Qatar, with Tony Arbolino finishing fastest in the final session of practice, after teammate Romano Fenati had been quickest in the two earlier sessions.
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The heavier Moto2 machines are struggling a little less with the wind than the smaller Moto3 bikes, but they are still not having it easy at Qatar. After two sessions, it is Gresini's Sam Lowes who leads the way, just shy of the two-minute barrier, and continuing his strong pace from Jerez. Jorge Navarro is second quickest on the Speed Up, ahead of another pair of Kalexes, with Tom Luthi leading Augusto Fernandez. Brad Binder is the fastest KTM rider so far.
Below are the times of the first two sessions of testing for Moto2 on Friday:
Heavy winds gusting up to 32 km/h have disrupted the first day of the last test for the Moto3 and Moto2 classes at Qatar. The wind is making riding difficult, especially for the light Moto3 bikes, and blowing sand onto the track.
After the first two sessions, it is Romano Fenati who is fastest, nearly half a second quicker than Niccolo Antonelli and Fenati's Snipers teammate Tony Arbolino. Gabriel Rodrigo is fourth fastest, while Kazuki Masaki is the first of the KTM riders in fifth.
The good news is that the next time the MotoGP assembles inside a racing circuit, nobody will be able to use "it's only testing" as an excuse. From now on, everything counts.
The bad news is that strong winds and low temperatures made the last day of testing a treacherous affair, disrupting testing plans, and causing a spate of crashes. (Which, in turn, disrupted testing plans even further.)
The really good news is that it looks like we are in for another immensely competitive season, with fifteen riders ending the test within a single second, and the list of realistic candidates for the title weighing in at around seven: the Honda, Ducati, and Yamaha factory riders, plus Alex Rins at Suzuki. Winning will be tough, but finishing on the podium if you can't win will be the key to taking the title.
Combined times after all three days of testing. Alex Rins (3rd), Aleix Espargaro (14th), Andrea Dovizioso (15th), Cal Crutchlow (17th), Johann Zarco (19th), and Karel Abraham (21st) did not improve their time from Sunday. Viñales' time is just under two tenths slower than Johann Zarco's time set at the test here in 2018.
Maverick Viñales ended the final day of preseason testing for the MotoGP class as fastest, leading a Yamaha domination of the top of the timesheets. With Petronas Yamaha's Fabio Quartararo in second and Franco Morbidelli in sixth, and Viñales' Monster Energy Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi in fourth, all four Yamahas put in fast times at the end of the session.
Both the wind and the pace have picked up as the Qatar test nears its end, the former not having too much effect on the latter, though a fair bunch of riders have crashed, including Alex Rins, Cal Crutchlow, Taka Nakagami, Marc Marquez, and Bradley Smith, all without incident.
A slow start to the final day of testing at Qatar, as the riders once again bided their time, waiting for the sun to start setting and the track temperature start to drop. At 6pm local time, it was Danilo Petrucci leading the way, with a lap of 1'55.842, nearly a second slower than his best time from Sunday. Behind the factory Ducati, the inseparable pair of Alex Rins and Maverick Viñales took second and third, the Suzuki rider a couple of tenths quicker than the Yamaha man.
Alex Rins ends the second day of the Qatar MotoGP test as fastest. The Suzuki Ecstar rider leapfrogged past Maverick Viñales to approach the 1'54 bracket, and take the top spot just a few hundredths ahead of the Monster Energy Yamaha rider.
Fabio Quartararo made a big leap forward, the Petronas SRT Yamaha rookie leaping up into third spot, ahead of Danilo Petrucci. After a difficult test at Sepang, Quartararo found a real turn of speed.
With the time slot the race is scheduled to start approaching, times are starting to hot up at the Qatar test. Alex Rins and Maverick Viñales have dropped into the mid-1'54s, Rins on the Suzuki following the Yamaha rider's lead, and beating his time. Danilo Petrucci was the first rider to crack the 1'54 barrier, the Ducati rider slipping under 1'55 as the fourth hour of the test started.
The Losail track opened at 4pm local time on Sunday, but to little avail. It took the best part of an hour before riders took to the track, waiting for the sun to start to set and track temperatures to drop closer to race time. By the end of the first two hours, it was Danilo Petrucci who as fastest, with a time already faster than his best lap from Saturday, with factory Ducati teammate Andrea Dovizioso three tenths behind in second.
Maverick Viñales has ended the first day of the Qatar MotoGP test at the top of the timesheets. The Monster Energy Yamaha rider put in a lap close to the race lap record towards the end of the test, narrowly missing out on a lap of 1'54. Suzuki Ecstar's Alex Rins ended in second, a tenth behind Viñales, the Spaniard having tried out a new exhaust system with twin tailpipes, which seemed to be a success.
Times are starting to drop as the track cleans up after last night's rain at Qatar, and as the MotoGP riders get back up to speed. Andrea Dovizioso leads his Ducati teammate Danilo Petrucci, both men well into the mid 1'55s, pretty close to race pace. Alex Rins is currently third quickest, the Suzuki Ecstar rider having tested a new exhaust, with two tailpipe emerging from the fairing lower.
Testing is underway for the final MotoGP preseason test at Qatar, with Jorge Lorenzo returning to action after his scaphoid injury to make the field complete. The test got off to a slow start, most riders waiting until the sun went down before taking to the track. That left the track largely empty between 4pm and 5pm.
Brad Binder has set out the marker for the new and revised Moto2 class, smashing the Moto2 lap record around Jerez by a second, and breaking into the 1'40s. For comparison, that is a tenth of a second slower than Valentino Rossi's 2004 MotoGP pole time at the Spanish circuit, set using a 990cc Yamaha M1 and special Michelin qualifying tires.