Losail, Qatar: Maverick Vinales (Monster Energy MotoGP) topped the first day of the Qatar Test, putting in a 1:55.051 to head the grid after a late charge for supremacy at Losail International Circuit. It was close though, with the Suzuki of Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) just 0.108 back – and the two set those laps close together on track.
Vinales’ teammate Valentino Rossi was not far back as he completed the top five after 47 laps.
Petronas Yamaha SRT, meanwhile, had more positives for rookie Fabio Quartararo. Quickest debutant by a stretch on Saturday, the Frenchman was a stunning seventh overall and less than two tenths off Rossi after 49 laps. Franco Morbidelli was a little further down after the first session, ending the day seven tenths further back in P14.
Ducatis also impressed with Andrea Dovizioso in third leading teammate Danilo Petrucci by a mere 0.044.
Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) kept the good news rolling for Ducati machinery as he ended the day in P6 after 44 laps, happy there’s more room to improve, too. Alma Pramac Racing, who starred in the Sepang test, were a little further back on Day 1 in Qatar. Francesco Bagnaia was P15 after a 1:56.738, with teammate Jack Miller in P19. Miller said he spent the session doing six to eight lap runs, testing different parts – and lacking the time to be able to put in a tyre to push for a hot lap.
Another surprise on Saturday came from the fastest Honda: Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu). The Japanese rider showed more top pace and put in 45 laps. Teammate Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) spent some time testing parts for HRC and finished the session in P18.
Reigning champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), whose shoulder remains less than 100 per cent after surgery, ended the day in tenth and, like in Sepang, put in only 34 laps. But he was positive and said he’s now back to riding in his more natural style, and he had his first crash of the season with no consequence.