Pre-season championship favourite Maverick Vinales was fastest in the first ever Moto3 practice session in Qatar this evening. The Blusens Avintia rider kept quiet through the early stages but came to life in the last few minutes to top the timesheets by a quarter of a second.
RW Racing's Luis Salom was the first man on track in an official Moto3 session and promptly set the initial pace before last season's 125 champions, Bankia Aspar took charge. Hector Faubel and Alberto Moncayo established a 1-2 for the Spanish team in the 2m11 before Salom bounced back with a 2:10.543.
It looked for a while as if that time would remain unbeaten but Vinales showed what he was capable of with four minutes to go, setting the first of three consecutive laps which would place him at the top when the chequered flag fell.
Salom attempted to use the FTR-Honda's slipstream to take part first place but came up short by half a second. Further back, Louis Rossi was also chasing a tow and found it, following Danny Webb and Toni Finsterbusch over the line to snatch second.
Miguel Oliveira also delivered a personal best in the dying seconds to take fourth ahead of Sandro Cortese on the leading Red Bull Ajo KTM. Teammate Danny Kent had a torrid session on the sister KTM, spending most of the time in the pits, and finished all the way down in 28th.
Romano Fenati backed up his impressive winter form with sixth place while Niklas Ajo and Zulfahmi Khairuddin pushed Hector Faubel down to ninth on the leading Aspar bike. Moncayo was 11th on the other Kalex-KTM, four places ahead of Mahindra's Danny Webb.
Other than minor off-track moments for Kenta Fujii and Jack Miller, the session passed without incident as the riders got to grips with the new formula.