Team SUZUKI ECSTAR’s Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaró put their GSX-RRs on track tonight under the floodlights of Losail International Circuit in Qatar for the opening Free Practice session of the 2016 MotoGP™ season.
Viñales set his best time of 1'55.847 on his final lap to place fifth overall, while Espargaro recorded a lap-time of 1'57.096 for 16th position in the session.
Both the riders started their job from where they left off earlier this month at the Qatar test with their new GSX-RRs that look to be in a good shape. Viñales spent 16 laps out on the track testing with only one set of tyres and checking the consistency of the performance through the distance. Although the drop of tyres, the young Spaniard could find better and better feeling lap after lap, scoring his best time in the very last lap.
A different job has been brought on by Aleix Espargaró, who started back from the positive improvements he registered in the last laps of the previous test in Losail. His struggle in finding a perfect feeling with the machine still continues, but his improvements are consistent and the team is working hard to best support him.
Davide Brivio – Team Manager:
“Obviously it has been a positive beginning of the weekend for Maverick who could be very fast especially at the end of the session using hard tyre. This is a good sign, but we still have work to do; there is room for improvements in the electronics and we will test the different options in tyres and some more little details we want to check. A little harder for Aleix, we thought to start a little better but with him we are still trying to find a better set-up for the bike. Today we have done only one session, we have the whole night to work on the data and we definitely want to deliver him a machine that could better suit his needs, as this performance his not where he belongs and we believe his potential is much higher.”
“It’s been a positive first session, we started from where we left-off at the tests and I feel quite confident with the bike. Today I tried only one set of tyres, with the harder compound, both to verify the performance consistency and to keep some softer for the next sessions. Although they got worn I managed to improve my lap times consistently and I scored my best at the last one, which is positive for me both for the race and for the feeling that I have. I have also tested the full seamless, but we still need to work on its set-up, our objective is to adopt it definitively as soon as possible, this is why we will continue testing and try to find a good set -up. It’s only the beginning, but my feelings are positive and the improvements are consistent, which gives me good hopes for the next days.”
“It’s been a hard first session, I can’t find the feeling with the front end and this prevents me braking hard and enter fast into the corners, which is a peculiarity of my riding style. This is the main problem, but the confidence with the front is also one of the hardest parts in motor racing. Today there was the problem that the track was much slipper, we tested only with the hardest tyre in order to keep the softer for better conditions on the track, which will for sure improve tomorrow. I spoke a lot with my engineers, my trust in them is total and we have already some ideas about what to change to improve the feeling. I’m sure we will get in better places soon because we only need time to find the right direction, the technical package and my potential are much higher than where we are now.”
COMMERCIAL BANK GP OF QATAR FP1 RESULTS:
1 Jorge LORENZO Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1'55.440
2 Valentino ROSSI Movistar Yamaha MotoGP 1'55.707 + 0.267
3 Andrea IANNONE Ducati Team 1'55.736 + 0.296
4 Hector BARBERA Avintia Racing 1'55.810 + 0.370
5 Maverick VIÑALES Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 1'55.847 + 0.407
6 Pol ESPARGARO Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1'56.051 + 0.611
7 Dani PEDROSA Repsol Honda Team 1'56.098 + 0.658
8 Marc MARQUEZ Repsol Honda Team 1'56.258 + 0.818
9 Andrea DOVIZIOSO Ducati Team 1'56.387 + 0.947
10 Scott REDDING OCTO Pramac Yakhnich 1'56.412 + 0.972
16 Aleix ESPARGARO Team SUZUKI ECSTAR 1'57.096 + 1.656