He is without a doubt the rider to watch this season, and Maverick Vinales hammered this home with another blistering display of riding at the pre-season test at Losail in Qatar.
Ducati’s Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) was the closest challenger after also going quickest on Day 1, with Repsol Honda Team’s Dani Pedrosa completing the top three on Day 3.
Reigning MotoGP Champion, Marc Marquez, was well behind the leaders finishing up day three in 10th place on the leaderboard.
Both of the Repsol Honda men spent a productive night completing their testing plans, which included electronics, aerodynamics and refinement of general race setup, with the focus on keeping a good race pace. Pedrosa continued until almost the end of the session, further improving his lap time at the end.
Marquez fell once very early in the session and twice after 9 p.m. with no consequences, but he had to abort his race simulation on his sixth lap in the mid-1’55” range.
Viñales’ quickest was a 1:54.330 – the fastest lap on Day 3 and overall – heading ‘DesmoDovi’ by only 0.071 on the final day. The gap back to Pedrosa was smaller again, 0.068, with P4 closer still and only 0.050 in arrears. The man in P4 was new Ducati Team recruit Jorge Lorenzo.
After the Borgo Panigale factory broke cover on a radical new “aero-fairing” design on day two – put through some paces by Andrea Dovizioso – it was ‘Spartan’ Lorenzo’s turn on the third and final day of testing; alongside the more traditional fairing design of the Desmosedici. The five-time World Champion did 53 laps in total on Day 3, and showed his real progress since first taking the GP16 out for a spin in Valencia – a 1:54.519 and a tenth off his teammate.
With one Movistar Yamaha rider at the top of the timesheets, nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi ended the final day of testing in eleventh. The ‘Doctor’ had a Day 2 of two contrasting fortunes with a crash but a huge improvement and breakthrough in pace, before Day 3 saw a more muted presence on the timesheets. Rossi was, however, only two tenths off reigning Champion Marquez’ time.
Two weeks remain until the opening race of the 2017 MotoGP season, as Losail hosts the first GP of the year from the 23rd to 26th March.