World champion Jorge Lorenzo set the fastest time as the final MotoGP test of the pre-season kicked off in Qatar, while Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi was one of six riders to fall.
Teams used the opening day of this final pre-season test to acclimatise their bikes to the Losail track, – unique in the MotoGP schedule for having its race run under floodlights – as well as the new electronics package, ahead of the season-opener there on March 20.
Lorenzo lapped in 1m55.452s, almost half a second clear of the Suzuki of the on-form Maverick Vinales, who repeated his strong recent Phillip Island pace.
Rossi fell from his bike at Turn 10, but was unhurt and returned to the track to set the third quickest time, his best lap 0.442s off Lorenzo, but just 0.014s behind Vinales.
Andrea Iannone set the fourth fastest time with just over an hour remaining to be quickest of the new Ducatis.
Pramac Ducati's Scott Redding was fifth fastest, ahead of Hector Barbera (Avintia Ducati) and the second works Ducati of Andrea Dovizioso.
Brits Cal Crutchlow, who crashed his LCR Honda towards the end of the session, and Bradley Smith (Tech 3 Yamaha) were eighth and ninth respectively.
New wings for Honda
Honda introduced new aerodynamic winglets on Marc Marquez’s RC213V front fairing, although much smaller than those used by Ducati. He didn’t use them on every run, however, and teammate Dani Pedrosa appeared not to use them at all.
Marquez was the faster of the two, but over a second off Lorenzo’s fastest time in 10th. Pedrosa was 13th, 1.4s off the pace.
As well as Rossi, Avintia Ducati’s Loris Baz also fell at Turn 10, and Tito Rabat was another to drop his Marc VDS Honda at Turn 2. Suzuki’s Aleix Espargaro fell at Turn 14, and Aprilia’s Stefan Bradl was another to crash.
Michelin had its medium front and rear tyres available tonight, but also offered test tyres that are a step softer and harder to work out the second option for the race weekend.