The MotoGP circus has just concluded testing at Malaysia’s Sepang Circuit, and the man sitting on top to the timesheets was none other than Movistar Yamaha’s new hire, Maverick Vinales.

“Today again, like yesterday, we worked mainly on the race pace. We improved the pace a lot, Vinales said.  “I am quite surprised I could attain a 1’59 and I am really happy, because it was very fast and the bike was going well.”

With an official time of one minute, 59.368 seconds, Vinales set the benchmark for the third day of testing, with reigning champion Marc Marquez narrowly behind by just 0.128 of a second.

“I’m much happier with my position today, Marquez said, even if the rhythm is really more important. We did a lot of laps, aiming to do as much work as possible, and indeed we did a good job; we completed much of our work schedule, though not everything. We need to make further improvements in some areas where I’m not yet totally comfortable, but even so, I’m happy that we got better and better over the three days, which is the most important thing. Today we again worked a lot on the electronics and also on the bike setup. In the last hour I did a mini-long run of 11 laps, sacrificing the time-attack a bit, but for us it was more important to work on the pace. I’m generally very happy with how the three days went.”

As is often the case with MotoGP, there wasn’t much in it by “normal standards” with the Top 15 all under a second behind Vinales.

New entry into the premier class, Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, still has a way to go to develop pace out of their machines before the season opener at the Grand Prix of Qatar in March, with Bradley Smith – the fastest of KTM’s two riders – nearly two seconds (1.970) behind on the timesheet.

Smith, however, was optimistic about the KTM’s pace: “For us to be just 1.9 seconds from the front at Sepang, one of the longest racetracks on the calendar, and for our first test for 2017, I think it’s a great place to start.”


The Top Five on Day Three at Sepang

  1. Maverick Vinales – Movistar Yamaha
  2. Marc Marquez – Repsol Honda
  3. Andrea Dovizioso – Ducati
  4. Dani Pedrosa – Repsol Honda
  5. Valentino Rossi – Movistar Yamaha