Viñales was the first of the two teammates to venture out on track. Determined to get his YZR-M1 set up to his liking early on, he tried various tweaks to the basic setting. The Spaniard gradually improved his feeling on the bike as well as his position, slotting into second place, behind Rossi, with more than three and a half hours to go.
He spent the remaining time of the session concentrating on his riding style and setting a consistent pace. He set a 1'55.053s on lap 50 of 64 laps in total, and ended the first day in first place with a 0.051s margin over his closest rival.
Rossi followed the trend and waited until just after 15:30 local time to hit the track. He needed little time to get back into the spirit of things. He quickly rose to the top of the provisional timesheets, setting a 1'55.827s lap, before starting work on the set-up of his bike.
As the day progressed and the sun went down, he was able to improve his time to a 1'55.432s, on lap 38 of 54 laps. As there was one other rider with the exact same time, the Italian secured seventh position in the standings, 0.379s from his teammate.
"We had no confidence to push in Thailand. Today it looks like we improved in that area. In the beginning I didn't feel well with the bike, but after trying some set-ups we felt better and I could push the front more, and step-by-step the lap times became lower. We are trying to make the bike the best we can. I started to feel better and better every time I exited pit lane today. On the last run I was doing many laps, focusing on my riding style and it looks to be going well. The bike is very consistent and I was able to ride well, but we still need to work on the corner speed, turning and acceleration, so we need to stay focused and keep working. Anyway, in the area that we wanted to improve, we improved - that's positive."
"It was not so bad, the first day was quite good. We are always very close to the other riders and in the end I'm in seventh position. It's not fantastic, but at this track I feel better. Right from the first moment, I felt better compared to how I felt in Thailand. I think I was quite competitive in Sepang, we had some more problems in Thailand, and here in Qatar the situation is more similar to Sepang, fortunately. It looks like also this year things can change quite a lot from one track to another, because it depends a lot on how you can make the tyres work for you. Sometimes you have to suffer, other times you'll be stronger."
"It has been a long day's work, but the results are there. After a difficult test in Thailand we wanted to start this test in the right way, especially since we'll kick off the season here in Qatar in a few weeks' time. Both riders felt better on the bike than they did in Buriram, right from the start of today's session. The base set-up worked well as soon as we got going and we could get good speed and consistency throughout the day. As always, we think we still have some room for improvement in terms of the chassis and the electronics settings. Maverick leading the standings and Valentino also near the top of the timesheets is a positive beginning."
Tech3 Duo Kicks Off Final Preparations Ahead of the 2018 Season Strongly
Johann Zarco and Hafizh Syahrin commenced the last pre-season test under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit in style. The Monster Yamaha Tech3 pair picked up impressively where they left off some days ago in Buriram, Thailand.
While Zarco quickly found back into his great rhythm at the track in Qatar, the French star concluded the day as the fastest satellite rider of the highly-competitive field in 4th position. Thereby, he missed out on the top by just 0.133 seconds. At the same time, MotoGP rookie Syahrin improved his pace and his feeling with the Yamaha YZR-M1 further and delivered an eye-catching performance in order to finish the first of three days of testing just 1.5 seconds behind his teammate.
"For the first day in Qatar, I was waiting to go out on the track in order to find better conditions, but even when I went out around 4 this afternoon, it was very slippery and we were struggling a bit and honestly, went in a wrong direction. But we understood quickly that we had to come back to what we know with better tyres. I rapidly found a decent pace, although it was complicated because the rear tyre dropped a lot compared to the last track we were on, so we really have to adapt the riding in the first laps and then still keep a fast speed when the tyre is sliding. But overall, it seems like we're competitive, which is the main thing and good for the confidence. Tomorrow we'll use this great base again, which we found on the first day and try to improve it."
"During this first day in Qatar I felt very good. We had a lot of confidence from the beginning. Later tonight, I experienced some minor issues, but after just some minutes, my great feeling was back. We tried to understand the new aerodynamics and by the end, I was able to give the guys some good feedback. I feel like I can improve even more, but we are trying everything step by step in order to avoid any obstacles, because if you're going too quick too fast you can easily be confused. Today, I was smooth and calm, and I'm happy, that I can say, I already understand the bike now. For the second day, we'll experiment further to make more progress."