Maverick Vinales heads the field on final test day

by Robert Jones

Maverick Vinales became the third different rider in as many days to top the leaderboard in Qatar, which completes a brilliant winter test for the Monster Energy Yamaha man.

Vinales has impressed all winter, but not for his usual time-attacks, instead his unrelenting race pace and overall competitive speed shown. 

The Spaniard is seen as the top challenger to Marc Marquez in 2020, and after putting another staggering 84 laps together on the final day, he looks more than ready. 

Second and third were the Petronas Yamaha duo of Franco Morbidelli and Fabio Quartararo

Morbidelli spent a solid amount of the day on top and was the first rider to break into the 1:53s barrier. Both rider’s completed over 50 laps once again, as the team go in search of their first win in under two weeks time. 

Quartararo was very up-beat about the team’s potential as he completed a race simulation in the 1:54s. 

Valentino Rossi was the last of the four Yamaha’s and had small crash at turn two. However, it was generally another good outing for the Italian, who feels the feeling of the bike is nearly where he wants it to be.  

Along with Yamaha, the times show that Suzuki will be every bit their match come the Qatar race weekend, with Alex Rins finishing the day in fourth. 

It was more of the same for Rins and Joan Mir on day three, as they continued setup adjustments and race simulation. Mir finished under a tenth behind his teammate in sixth. 

Fifth was Pramac Ducati rider Jack Miller, who clocked the fastest ever speed around the Losail International Circuit with a top performance of 355 km/h. 

For teammate Francesco Bagnaia, it was an 11th place finish for the Italian now in his second season with the team. 

Bagnaia had a very good test as he looks to become more consistent during the 2020 season. For the factory team, Andrea Dovizioso was tenth and Danilo Petrucci sixteenth. 

Image Credit: MotoGP.com

Ducati have certainly gone under the radar over the course of the Malaysia and Qatar tests, with their true pace expected to be on full display come march 8th. 

Reale Avintia produced a huge number of laps once again, as Tito Rabat finished in 15th, while teammate Johann Zarco was two spots further back. 

The team going into the final day on the back foot was the defending champion Repsol Honda, who have been struggling mightily with the RC213V and front end feel. 

Both Marc and Alex Marquez have had a plenty of crashes over the course of testing and this weekend in particular. 

Marc had three bikes available to him today as he not only tried the 2019 bike, but parts from the 2017-18 season. 

While it looked like a desperation move of sorts, Marc came away very pleased, saying they ‘found their way’ by then end of the test. 

Image Credit: MotoGP.com

The eight time world champion finished seventh and only three tenths down on Vinales, while also completing the most laps by far of the two tests with 61. 

Alex on the other hand struggled, but believes that he has a good pace in regards to the race weekend. The Moto2 champion finished 21st. 

If it wasn’t easy for Repsol, the same went for LCR Honda, as Cal Crutchlow was nearly a second behind the top time. 

The Brit is having front end issues especially on his time-attacks, as the front is pushing in the corners. Like Alex he is a bit more confident when it comes to long run rhythm though.

Takaaki Nakagami was probably the happiest of all Honda riders, as he had a second consecutive day with a top ten finish in eighth. 

For the first time in 2020, the top KTM was Brad Binder, who put together a brilliant run that resulted in him finishing ninth. 

Expectations are high for the South African throughout the paddock, as his adaptation to the KTM RC16 keeps gathering momentum. 

Pol Espargaro was 14th, after spending much of the day inside the top ten. The Spaniard completed one lap short of a half century, while the Tech 3 team of Miguel Oliveira and Iker Lecuona could not be separated, as has been the case on several occasions so far. 

For Aprilia, top rider Aleix Espargaro consolidated what has been a positive winter testing with 13th spot. 

Image Credit: MotoGP.com

The main focus of the day was to decide on the engine spec, which was confirmed by Technical Director Romano Albesiano

Times were a lot closer on the final day, and although Aleix was outside the top ten, he was only five tenths down, while Bradley Smith brought up the rear of the field once again. 

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