Livio Loi has successfully converted his pace from last week’s Moto3 test at Qatar’s Losail circuit into free practice performance to top the opening day of the 2016 season.
The Belgian finished the day 0.3 clear of an impressive performance from rookie Joan Mir, who steps up from the Junior World Championship to take over from reigning champion Danny Kent in the Leopard Racing squad, albeit on KTM machinery rather than Honda.
Another rookie was third, with Valentino Rossi’s protégé (and reigning Junior World Champion) Nicolo Bulega a mere 0.024 off his fellow rookie.
The second Team Sky VR46 machine was fourth, with Romano Fenati only 0.011 behind his teammate, heading the second row from the Mahindra of Francesco Bagnaia and the factory Red Bull KTM of Brad Binder.
Scotsman John McPhee was 24th, much happier with the performance of his Peugeot-branded Mahindra after an entire chassis change fixed the issues that has plagued him since the opening day of testing in Jerez last month. However, he is now being forced to play catch-up after effectively missing out on his entire pre-season testing programme.