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Qatar MotoGP test: What we have learned in the last three days…

What we have learned over the last three days of MotoGP testing is thus: Maverick Vinales is bum-tighteningly fast.

Rossi is worried, Marquez can’t quite believe it and crashed five times trying to find an answer.

Whether it be a short-stint, soft-tyred time attack or a race simulation, the Movistar Yamaha newboy has it covered. Faster than everyone at all four pre-season tests in terms of outright speed and only challenged by Andrea Dovizioso in terms of pace over distance - at one of Ducati and Dovizioso’s favoured tracks.


Stupidity, mechanical ineptitude or a force majeure notwithstanding, Vinales should win the title in his debut year on a works bike. There, it’s said.

It is also said, mostly by the hard-of-thinking, that testing is one thing and racing is another. There is a small element of truth there but only so far as taking your bike to a circuit you won’t race on, finding the most number of sticky tyres possible and doing five lap runs in order to win testing.

Multiple days on a circuit you do race at is completely indicative of how quick you are. Vinales has proven he is the quickest guy out there at Valencia, Sepang, Phillip Island and Losail. Only the bookies have Marquez still favourite. They probably don’t know what they’re talking about but you’ll never see one riding to work on a bicycle in the rain.

Marquez is trying exceptionally hard. Honda brought two new fairings to try in the desert and the reigning champion crashed using both, and then three other times too. By his own admission, he is completely on the limit trying to find the required pace. Yesterday, the crashes hampered his overall performance and he didn’t do a race run but he knows his Maverick could cook his Goose in 2017.

“For race rhythm there is one rider who is faster than the others - that is Vinales,” said the HRC man last night.

Rossi, 9/2 with Ladbrookes, is all over the show. Slow on Friday, fast on Saturday, slow on Sunday. The Doctor is a puzzled man and blamed track conditions for his lack of pace yesterday. He ran the same setup as he did to set his best the day before and was significantly slower, saying he didn’t have the same feeling or speed. This was the song he sang on Friday as he searched for corner entry feel via balance tinkering.

MotoGP’s bridesmaid Dani Pedrosa was in all sorts of trouble for the opening two days but yesterday found something with the RC213V and ended only a tenth off with a 1’54.469. Pedrosa seemed happy with the 2017 RCV for the first time.

“We did a lot of good work in the last three hours of the test and basically it finished positive. There is still a lot of things to get faster, better, [with more] consistency but overall we gain confidence test-by-test.

“We don’t know how it’s going to be in the group, in the race time, what is going to be a disadvantage or what is going to be the advantage. We still need to go in the race,” he said.


“Obviously we see Maverick, he’s quite consistent and fast. It looks like he’s quite dialled in but, you know, the championship starts soon so we need to focus on us.”

With Lorenzo still an unknown, Dovizioso lacking the killer instinct in a crowd and the rest probably just not fast enough on a regular basis, it’s down to the four above. Gentlemen, start your PR machines…

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