Movistar Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales has kicked off 2017 in style as the Spaniard dominated the first Free Practice session from the Losail Circuit in Qatar.
After topping all four winter tests in preparation for his Yamaha debut, Vinales opened his account early on with a 1m55.668s which displaced early pacesetter Andrea Dovizioso.
That time was the benchmark for most of the session while many riders familiarized themselves once again with the desert track. Inside the final five minutes and Reigning World Champion Marc Marquez became the closest challenger to this benchmark, only 0.178 seconds behind.
As the session drew to a close, Vinales put in a blistering 1m54.316s which was a staggering 0.596s ahead of Marquez who also found some quick laps towards the end of the session.
Dani Pedrosa completed the top three with Tech3 Yamaha rookie Jonas Folger finishing the session in an impressive fourth. Jorge Lorenzo took fifth on the session and also finished top Ducati in what was a solid debut for the “Spartan”.
Avintia Ducati’s Loris Baz jumped up to sixth at the very end, leading Cal Crutchlow who recovered from an early mechanical problem to finish seventh, just ahead of Johann Zarco on the second Tech3 Yamaha.
Valentino Rossi had to settle for a disappointing ninth, finishing 1.483s off his new teammate Viñales. Aleix Espargaro rounded out the top 10 on the Aprilia.
Suzuki were the main losers of the session with both their riders Iannone and Rins finishing 13th and 18th respectively. KTM Racing’s Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith completed the session in a expected 21st and 23rd position 3.3s and 3.7s off the pace.