Vinales Fastest in Qatar as Riders Test New In-Race Penalty System

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Maverick Vinales has, once again, topped the timing sheets on day one of the Qatar pre-season test. Setting a time of 1:55.051, he was only 0.108s ahead of Team Suzuki Ecstar rider, Alex Rins.

The Spanish pair took the top two spots late in to the session, after the track conditions had greatly improved. This was despite Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci dominating for much of the six hour-long day. They finished the session in third and fourth respectively. Recent birthday boy, Valentino Rossi, came in fifth.

Reigning champion Marc Marquez, who dominated previous sessions, suffered his first crash since receiving surgery on his shoulder. However the incident was small and Marquez was back on the bike to complete more track time soon afterwards. He finished the day in 10th place after completing 34 laps.

Marquez’s teammate, however, seemed to struggle on his first day with Honda, after being forced to miss the Sepang test due to a nasty training injury. He finished the day a mammoth 2.039s off the pace set by Vinales, down in a lowly twenty-first.

Tito Rabat picked up exactly where he left off, enjoying yet another strong performance to bring his Avintia Racing bike home in an impressive sixth. He was followed by Fabio Quartararo in seventh, who also took the top rookie crown for the day.

Most laps for the day were completed by Johann Zarco, completing the Losail track 53 times. Yet he was only able to secure the sixteenth quickest time of the day.

Like Marquez, the Aprilia team-mates of Aleix Espargaro and Andre Iannone also suffered crashes which halted their days proceeding. They finished in twelfth and thirteenth respectively.

However, the day was not without controversy. Whilst it may have seemed like a simple day of testing, the riders spent the day also testing a new in-race penalty system. The trial, aiming to replace the current system of forcing riders to drop a place in the race, will force them far off the racing line within a designated area of the track.

The Qatar circuit had the addition of an extra wide asphalt run off area at turn 6, which has markers for the riders to travel through, acting as their penalty.

A meeting with occur later to decide if this system will be implemented to the new season.

Day two of testing gets underway tomorrow morning.


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Posted on 23rd February, 2019 for The Checkered Flag

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