Yamaha’s newest recruit Maverick Viñales ended the first day of 2017 testing as the fastest rider on his new bike ahead of Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo.
The Spaniard makes his highly anticipated move from Suzuki to Yamaha after a stellar season and wasted little time in laying down a marker for 2017 by topping the first day of testing from his Yamaha team-mate and his Yamaha predecessor Jorge Lorenzo.
Completing 61 laps aboard the M1 for the very first time, Viñales completed his fastest lap of the day on his 55th of the day and was a 1:30.930 which was just 0.7 seconds behind Viñales’ qualifying time from this weekends Valencia Grand Prix.
Valentino Rossi was second fastest although suffered crash just after 2pm local time and didn’t go back out. Rossi was riding a wingless 2017 M1 when he lost the front end of his M1 at T10. The Italian was fine but damaged his 2017 bike in the crash, meaning he couldn’t improve on his lap time after the crash. He is hopeful that he will be able to get back on the ’17 bike tomorrow.
In third place was the Ducati of Jorge Lorenzo. The Spaniard set about dispelling the theory he would struggle aboard the Desmosedici as he ended the first day as the third fastest rider just 0.122 behind Viñales fastest time of the day. Completing 60 laps on his first day with Ducati, Lorenzo spent the majority of the day of the GP16 which was the bike he set his fastest lap on. Riding a bike fitted with winglets to help him adapt to the Ducati, Lorenzo’s time of the day was just 0.2 seconds slower than the best free practice time Iannone managed on the same bike this past weekend.
2016 MotoGP World Champion was fourth fastest as he tested the new Honda RC213V. The new Honda has a new ‘big bang’ engine and Marquez spent the day switching between the 2016 version of the bike and the new engine in the 2017. Fifth placed Andrea Dovizioso also spent a lot of the day going between 2016 and 2017 editions of his own bike, with Ducati rolling out the GP17 for the Italian.
Cal Crutchlow was sixth fastest and was seen testing different parts for HRC including a new engine and an orange Repsol Honda tank on his LCR Honda. Despite some more good progress, the Brit did lose the front end of his Honda into the final right hander, he was unharmed and recovered it back to the pits.
Seventh place was Andrea Iannone who impressed on his first day with his Suzuki GSX-RR. ‘The Maniac’ was as high as third at one point before an afternoon crash at T10 saw the Italian slow to get up. He did eventually get back out but didn’t improve on his lap time set earlier in the day.
Scott Redding completed 71 laps and beat out Hector Barbera as the two satellite Ducati riders got their hands on the GP16, finish just ahead of Dani Pedrosa who rounded out the top ten.
Jack Miller was eleventh fastest and just half a second off the pace of Viñales and just ahead of the Ducati’s of Alvaro Bautista and Michele Pirro. Aleix Espargaro was 14th on his first run with the Aprilia RS-GP and just over a tenth faster than Loris Baz.
Jonas Folger was the fastest rookie on the Yamaha Tech3 bike and 1.5 seconds behind Viñales and just 0.012 ahead of his team-mate and fellow rookie Johann Zarco. Tito Rabat was 18th fastest behind the two rookies and just ahead of the KTM duo of Pol Espargaro and Bradley Smith.
Espargaro led the still recovering Smith although himself crashed at T10. He got back out and ended his first day on the KTM 1.6 seconds behind Viñales and 0.2 ahead of his team-mate.
Suzuki rookie Alex Rins was 21st as he rode the GSX-RR for the first time. Suzuki are implementing a similar strategy to what they did with Maverick Viñales of not applying too many electrical aids to the bike to help Rins find the feeling of the bike before adding the aids.
Eugene Laverty was 22nd and another crasher. Laverty was fine but his spill in the closing stages was more of an inconvenience than anything else, leaving the Aprilia mechanics with a late evening. The returning Karel Abraham was behind Laverty and just ahead of Sam Lowes. Lowes was another late crasher and was taken to a local hospital as a precautionary measure after the crash.
Testing will continue tomorrow before teams will head off for their final private tests of the year before December first comes around and the winter tester ban comes into effect.
Photos via MotoGP.com