Words by Vishnu G Haarinath
The flood-lit Losail International circuit witnessed the dominance of the young Spaniard Maverick Vinales topping the timing sheets. Despite the challenges put up by Italian Andrea Dovizioso as Ducati changing their fairing, which very much looked like the Hammerhead Shark to challenge the inner winglets of the Yamaha, Vinales still came out triumphant.
Dovizioso started with a positive note on day 1 with a one minute 55.82 second-lead, ahead of the Yamaha factory rider, who finished a second best timing of one minute 55.18 seconds. Following the factory riders, it was the Brit Cal Crutchlow who finished with a best timing of one minute 55.42 seconds as the top satellite rider.
On day two, things changed for Dovizioso as he finished a low 13th on the sheet, while Vinales climbed the ladder to finish as the top rider for the day clocking one minute 54.46 seconds, ahead of the nine time world champion Valentino Rossi, who was 0.27 seconds behind his new teammate. To everyone’s surprise, it was another satellite rider – rookie Jonas Folger who graduated from Moto2 – who completed the top 3 with a timing of one minute 54.91 seconds on board his Monster Yamaha Tech 3.
Once again, Vinales went on charging with a one minute 54.3 seconds timing, overtaking Dovizioso to claim the top spot on day 3. The Ducati rider adapted well to his new Hammerhead fairing to finish just 0.07 behind the Spaniard. In third, it was another Spaniard Dani Pedrosa with a timing of one minute 54.46 seconds.
The tests clearly show that Maverick Vinales is going give a tough run to the current rider’s line up, especially the reigning champion – Marc Marquez – who failed to impress with his Honda. With such a fierce teammate, will Rossi be able to add his tenth title? The answers will be out when the lights go on at Losail International Ciruit on March 26.