Qatar MotoGP test: Rhythm the focus for Vinales as Quartararo joins factory Yamaha

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Picture: GeeBee Images

Maverick Viñales concluded the opening day of official MotoGP testing in ninth place this evening after spending Saturday fully focused on his rhythm.

After getting his first feel for the 2021 YZR-M1, the freshly-married and soon-to-be father, ran a total of 51 laps across Saturday’s seven hours on track, setting his 1‘55.259s fastest time on lap 33, earning him ninth in the overall results, 0.572s from Aleix Espargaro’s Aprilia in first and a further half second ahead of new teammate, Fabio Quartararo.

The Frenchman, who had been counting down the days to his Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP debut, also had a fairly positive first day in his new office. Completing 69 laps over the course of the opening test session, he set his best lap of 1‘55.707s on lap 35, to take 15th place, 1.020s from the top.

“After months of no riding, the team is thrilled to be back in action” explained Team Director, Massimo Meregalli, seemingly pleased with his team’s first day.

“Maverick and Fabio are both happy to be on the bike again, however, we immediately had to put our heads down and get to work. Today was our first testing opportunity of the 2021 season, and Yamaha has come prepared: we have a lot of new items to try in this Qatar Test. We also have three test riders on track, besides Maverick and Fabio, to help us collect as much data as possible as we prepare for the start of the 2021 MotoGP season in three weeks‘ time.”

Fully taking the reins from the departed Valentino Rossi, Yamaha’s new number one rider, Vińales confirmed: “It’s good to be back on track and riding the bike. Today I focused on getting into the rhythm, we didn’t try anything specific. So far, the feeling is positive, but it’s still very early in the testing process. We will keep working. In the upcoming days we will be riding many more laps to try to be faster.”

While the newest member of the factory team, Quartararo, concluded:

“It was a positive day. Honestly, I needed a bit of time to get used to riding a MotoGP bike after the long winter break, still, I was happy to be riding again. I can’t wait for tomorrow, because it will keep getting better and better. I’m looking forward to getting in more laps, getting faster, and also doing a time attack tomorrow - that’s the main plan.”