Maverick Viñales has once again made his mark on the 2017 MotoGP world championship by topping the opening night of the season under the floodlights at Qatar’s Losail circuit, finishing ahead of the Repsol Honda duo of Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa.
Viñales went well under the lap record with his 1:54.316 lap, building off last week’s test to finish 0.6 ahead of Marquez, with his teammate a further 0.3 in tow of him to leave Viñales over a second clear of the provisional second row.
Rookie Jonas Folger continued to impress by finishing front of that row in fourth, ahead of Jorge Lorenzo, unhappy with his pace on the Ducati despite a strong finish, and a surprise late lap for Loris Baz, securing himself a space in Q2 if it does rain tomorrow as the forecast threatens.
Cal Crutchlow was seventh despite a problem in the opening seconds that left his number one bike spewing oil over his boot and almost throwing him off, ahead of the second Monster Yamaha Tech 3 rookie Johann Zarco, with Valentino Rossi and Aleix Espargaró rounding out the top ten.
Andrea Dovizioso was 11th, ahead of Scott Redding in 12th, while Sam Lowes and Bradley Smith made up the back of the grid in 22nd and 23rd respectively after an early fall for Lowes, the first crash of the season in the premiere class.