Vinales tops first test of 2017 in Sepang


KUALA LUMPUR: Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales topped the timesheets on the final day on Wednesday of the 2017 test season at Malaysia’s Sepang circuit, ahead of team-mate Valentino Rossi and Marc Marquez.

The Spaniard, who put in 72 laps, clocked one minute and 59.368 seconds – 0.138 second faster than reigning world champion Marquez on a Honda who put in 85 laps.

“Today again, like yesterday, we worked mainly on the race pace. We improved the pace a lot,” said Vinales. “We are developing the bike, trying to better the package that we have, and I think for sure we have the best bike at the moment for one lap and on race distance.”

Italian Andrea Divizioso, on a Ducati, clinched the third fastest spot at 1min 59.553 seconds while Honda’s Dani Pedrosa was fourth fastest at one minute and 59.578 seconds.

Light rain briefly hampered the action in the early afternoon but riders were undeterred once dry conditions resurfaced.

Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Spanish rider Maverick Vinales takes a corner during the last day of 2017 MotoGP pre-season test at the Sepang International Circuit on Wednesday. AFP PHOTO

Motorcycling superstar Rossi—debuting Yamaha’s new fairing with “internal” winglets in Sepang following the ban on external ones this year—registered one minute and 59.589 seconds on the clock to take the fifth spot.

The Italian superstar is targeting an elusive 10th world title in a new MotoGP season dominated by riders switching allegiances and thereby changing bikes too.

“I’m quite happy, it was a good test, because my lap times were OK and one minute and 59.589 [seconds]is not so bad and we are all very close at the top,” said Rossi.

Three-time world champion Jorge Lorenzo, adjusting to his new Ducati, was the ninth fastest at one minute and 59.767 seconds.

It was a vast improvement from day one when he was 17th fastest but he leapt up the timesheets on day two to number eight.

Suzuki’s Andrea Iannone, the fastest rider on day two on Tuesday, was 11th fastest on Wednesday at two minutes and 00.045 second.

The second round of testing will be held on Phillip Island in Australia from February 15-17 and a third round in Qatar from March 10-12.

The 18-race MotoGP season gets under way in Qatar on March 26.



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