Valencia MotoGP test: Vinales fastest on day one

Picture: Polarity Photo

Movistar Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales topped the timesheets on day one of MotoGP testing at Valencia despite having a dazzling array of bike and setup options to choose from which included the 2016 M1 he raced on Sunday and two other bikes in 2017 and 2018 specfications as well as a Ducati-inspired aero package.

Vinales, using a 2016 chassis with a development 2018 motor, poached top spot from Johann Zarco, riding the 2017 M1 which the Spaniard and nine-time world champion Valentino Ross struggled on, late in the day, setting a 1’30.189 on his 70th lap of 80 to go two-tenths quicker than the Monster Yamaha man. Zarco had grabbed top spot after lunch with a 1’30.389, only a tenth off his front-row time on Saturday.

Just before midday there was a dramatic crash for Rossi at turn ten, with the number 46 soon on his feet and walking over to look at the 2016-spec M1 he had smashed to bits. He eventually set the fourth faastest time behind Marc Marquez.

Reigning world champion Marquez, meanwhile, was the last man out on track and did 70 laps as he began his campaign to defend the crown – already. His best was just over a tenth slower than Zarco, and spent most of the test session on the 2017 Honda. Teammate Dani Pedrosa did 52 laps, and ended the day in P11 after his Valencia GP victory on Sunday. Cal Crutchlow, on the first LCR Honda machine, finished up in tenth after 55 laps.

Jack Miller (Octo Pramac Racing) was the standout debutant as he rode a Ducati for the first time, going fifth fastest and almost immediately quicker than his fastest lap in the race on Sunday – and quicker than any lap put in during the race on Sunday. He was the fastest Ducati, with the Borgo Panigale factory’s Andrea Dovizioso and Jorge Lorenzo slotting into P7 and P8 respectively – both putting in around a half century of laps. Danilo Petrucci (Octo Pramac Racing) took P14 after 46 laps, just behind Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) – with the former intermediate class Champion putting in 70 laps on his first day on a Ducati.

Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) was sixth and fastest for the Noale factory after 51 laps, with new teammate Scott Redding settling in in P15 on Day 1. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) took ninth after 56 laps, with teammate Bradley Smith putting in a similar count of laps to end the day in P12 as the Austrian factory head into their sophomore season.

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) was the fastest rookie in P17 after 76 laps, with reigning Moto2 champ Franco Morbidelli (EG 0,0 Marc VDS) incredibly close behind in P18. Xavier Simeon (Reale Avintia Racing) put in 43 laps on his first run in the premier class, returning from injury and ending the day in P20. He also suffered a lowside crash earlier in the day.

Alvaro Bautista suffered a big crash early in the day after a mechanical problem, and went to hospital for precautionary checks. He sat out the rest of the test day, although was confirmed with no fractures. There were more issues of a different nature at Team Suzuki Ecstar as Andrea Iannone and Alex Rins were both sidelined with a virus, and are hoping to get out on track tomorrow.

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