Losail, Qatar: Maverick Vinales of Monster Energy Yamaha capped an impressive week with the fastest lap on the final day of MotoGP Qatar test on Monday and will return to the Losail International Circuit for the season-opening Qatar GP on March 10 as one of the favourites.
Spaniard Vinales, who topped the first day as well, clocked 1:54.208 to end the test 0.233 clear. However, he had to ward off a tough challenge from rookie Fabio Quartararo of Petronas Yamaha SRT, who finished in second.
Reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) finished third.
Crowd favourite Valentino Rossi of Yamaha came back strongly after a tough second day to finish fourth, with Jorge Lorenzo of Repsol Honda Team completing the top five.
So it’s Yamaha who leave Qatar on top despite a windier Day 3, with Viñales putting in 50 laps on Monday and Rossi 38. The Italian was pretty positive and said it came from putting “everything together”, but the Spaniard did still insist they need to improve and one of the big things he pointed out was edge grip, where he said the Yamaha is lacking a little compared to other manufacturers. Quartararo, meanwhile, did 48 laps and showed his Day 2 showing was far from a fluke, with teammate Franco Morbidelli shooting up the timesheets to sixth on Monday too. That makes good reading for both the Iwata marque and the new Petronas Yamaha SRT team, with all Yamahas in the top six.
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu), meanwhile, also had a solid final day as he finished the Qatar Test in eighth despite a crash, and the Japanese rider concludes testing with a sheet of consistent top tens. He did 50 laps with a best of 1:54.789, with teammate Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) down in P17 after 39 laps.
Another big headline on the last day of the preseason came from the consistently impressive Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), who was a stunning seventh on a best effort of 1:54.770.