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MotoGP Catalunya: Vinales leads Marquez into qualifying

Ecstar Suzuki’s Maverick Vinales topped the third Catalan MotoGP free practice session at Montmelo this morning on a track configuration changed overnight following the crash at turn 12 that claimed the life of Moto2 rider Luis Salom yesterday.

The change, which sees MotoGP adopt the F1 layout previously tested and discarded by the likes of Valentino Rossi, means yesterday’s times didn’t count for the qualifying one and two sessions this afternoon’s, so the MotoGP field had an hour to adjust to the alterations at turns ten and 12, make setup adjustments and set a time.

Vinales ended up on top with a 1’44.727, just over a tenth quicker than Repsol Honda’s Marquez who had a strange, cold-tyre crash as he left pitlane halfway through. But, as usual, the youngster bounced back to set a 1’44.847 with his 17th lap of 21. Dani Pedrosa, also on Honda, was third quickest and the factory Hondas have found an advantage in the new layout which has changed the last two corners from fast and flowing lefts to a stop-go chicane.


The two are more than a tenth faster than reigning champion Jorge Lorenzo and almost three-tenths quicker than Valentino Rossi but The Doctor is fastest through sector one so that’s where he makes it back and ended up in fourth place, 0.344s slower than Vinales, with his final lap.

Pol Espargaro put in one bite-the-screen lap to occupy fifth place, just ahead of Lorenzo’s best of 1’45.287 in sixth. Scott Redding ended the day well into qualifying two with a 1’45.307, just ahead of team-mate Danilo Petrucci with Cal Crutchlow in ninth and Andrea Iannone scraping into the final timed session.

Yonny Hernandez threatened to burst into Q2 but just missed out in 11th place while Andrea Dovizoso, on the works Desmosedici GP, ended in 12th. Eugene Laverty finished the session in 18th and it was another disaster for Bradley Smith who was stone last and added insult to injury with a crash late in the session at the start of his last run.

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