Viñales & Team Suzuki Ecstar on Pace in Qatar


Team Suzuki Press Office – March 2.  Team SUZUKI ECSTAR riders Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaro continued their positive 2016 MotoGP™ pre-season testing schedule tonight under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit in Qatar, where the season begins in two weeks’ time.

Viñales impressed again aboard his new 2016 GSX-RR Suzuki – as he did in Australia last month – by setting the second-fastest time with a 1:55.880 on his 28th lap, as Espargaro and his crew continued development with his machine, finishing the first of three days in 11th (+1.100).

Viñales rode a total of 44 laps, testing both the 2015 and 2016 chassis’, getting back important information about the feeling. The job done today was mainly focused to improve the finalisation of the machine, step-by-step and mainly regarding the electronics and overall set-up.

It was a little more of a struggle for Espargaro, who did a positive job throughout the day and marked some important improvements, although the end of the day saw him crash and not being able to exploit the whole of his time on-track.

Team SUZUKI ECSTAR also had Team Suzuki test rider Takuya Tsuda onboard today, continuing the development of the seamless gearbox. His focus was on giving the engineers the latest feeling about its set-up in order to have the needed parameters to finalise when to introduce the up-and-down seamless function for Espargaro and Viñales’ Factory GSX-RRs.

Davide Brivio – Team Manager:

“We’re happy for this first day in Qatar, the place here is always peculiar, a little insidious as we ride in the night. We did a good job with Maverick, who could always be fast and at the same time to work on the different technical solutions we still need to investigate; such as the new chassis and the tyre. We did a good job and got useful feedback. Aleix, at the end, found a good feeling, but unfortunately he incurred in a little crash that prevented him recording further improvements in terms of lap-time. The humidity here in Qatar is always tricky and finally caused a change in the track’s conditions which caught-out Aleix. It’s a pity because he was on the good way at that time, but we still have two days to work so it’s ok as far as Aleix’s back will not hurt him too much. Here we had also Tsuda, coming directly from the Test Team, and who is helping us to finalise the seamless gearbox. Now we will analyse the data he recorded for us and tomorrow we will decide if to equip the Factory riders’ machines with the ‘up-and-down’ version.”

Maverick Viñales:

“I’m happy with the work we could do today and for the result of this first day. We didn’t focus on testing so many things but more to find consistency in the improvement of the setting and the electronics. We have tested both the 2015 and 2016 chassis and the results are positive. Although my best lap was done with the old chassis, my feeling is that with the new one we are already very close and this leaves us a lot of room for improvement. We made many laps and did a huge amount of work, the times here are getting very, very fast these days; for example, my lap time is already almost one second faster than last year’s race, therefore we really need to keep on working. I feel very confident with the front tyre, while we still need to work on the rear as we couldn’t find the perfect grip yet, so we can improve further.”

Aleix Espargaro:

“This has been another hard day, but once again I feel positive. After the very bad feeling I had in Australia, here we find a better configuration and the situation got better. Today around the half of the session we changed our direction and the machine improved a great deal for me. Unfortunately when two hours were missing to the end, when I incurred a crash, it was strange because I put a new tyre on and got a high-side in a very slow corner, but this is Qatar: When the humidity comes, the track’s conditions change very much. I didn’t have any major injury but my back hurts a lot, as it already has damage from last year’s crashes. Now I’ll go to rest and recover for tomorrow, but the direction we found is positive so I’m eager to improve.”

IRTA TEST – QATAR: Classification after Day 1:

1. Jorge LORENZO – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – 1:55.452 – 23 / 36
2. Maverick VIÑALES – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR – 1:55.880 – +0.428 – 28 / 44
3. Valentino ROSSI – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – 1:55.894 – +0.442 – 31 / 33
4. Andrea IANNONE – Ducati Team – 1:56.119 – +0.667 – 53 / 53
5. Scott REDDING – Octo Pramac Yakhnich – 1:56.213 – +0.761 – 27 / 46
6. Hector BARBERA – Avintia Racing – 1:56.320 – +0.868 – 27 / 27
7. Andrea DOVIZIOSO – Ducati Team – 1:56.388 – +0.936 – 46 / 52
8. Cal CRUTCHLOW – LCR Honda – 1:56.510 – +1.058 – 21 / 36
9. Bradley SMITH – Monster Yamaha Tech 3 – 1:56.517 – +1.065 – 23 / 38
10. Marc MARQUEZ – Repsol Honda Team – 1:56.523 – +1.071 – 29 / 45
11. Aleix ESPARGARO – Team SUZUKI ECSTAR – 1:56.552 – +1.100 – 25 / 35