Iannone Tops Day Two of 2018 Qatar MotoGP Test

Michael Scott | March 2, 2018

Iannone Tops Day Two of 2018 Qatar MotoGP Test—Six riders busted below 1:55 as times dropped in the second of three days of MotoGP tests at Qatar today, with Ecstar Suzuki rider Andrea Iannone coming through to top the timesheets in a final flurry that also saw Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda) putting in a flier to move up from tenth to third.

Iannone is gaining some much-needed confidence with the factory Suzuki after a shocking 2017.

The pair sandwiched long-time session leader Andrea Dovizioso’s Ducati; with Johann Zarco (Monster Yamaha), second Suzuki rider Alex Rins and LCR Honda’s Cal Crutchlow also in the 1:54 bracket.

“A good day for us—the feeling with the bike is good, and for sure we made a very good lap time,” said Iannone. “Tomorrow we have other things to try on the bike, but the package is good.” It reflects the regaining of momentum for Suzuki, after a difficult 2017.

A few spatters of rain added to the usual slow start; but conditions improved and times were still dropping into the darkness, in spite of the fears of dew on the surface.

Marquez blamed the drop in temperature for his first crash of the season when he was caught out at the notorious turn two with a hard front tire.  But the defending champion was confident all the same, having swapped to his spare bike and gone faster still. “We lost the way a little bit early, but then I was able to go fast again,” he said.

Times were not quite as close as yesterday, with 14 within the first second.

Maverick Vinales was the top rider outside 1:54, lying seventh, but the Movistar Yamaha rider’s confidence of yesterday was in abeyance. He was complaining of acceleration problems and wheelspin, and having “the same problems as at every test”.

The Pramac Ducati teammates, Petrucci and Miller, were eighth and ninth.

Dani Pedrosa rounded out the top 10, the second Repsol Honda rider barely three hundredths faster than 11th-fastest Valentino Rossi, who described his lap time as “average” but said that his race pace was better.

Aleix Espargaro was 13th, better of the two Aprilias, still awaiting the new engine that had been expected here. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) came back from a mild tumble to claim 13th, again significantly top rookie.

Tomorrow riders will be hoping to run race simulations as well as making a final time attack, for bragging rights in the lead up to the opening round in two weeks.

One concern for several was front tire wear.

Iannone Tops Day Two of 2018 Qatar MotoGP Test

Michael Scott | MotoGP Editor Scott has been covering MotoGP since long before it was MotoGP. Remember two-strokes? Scott does. He’s also a best-selling author of biographies on the lives of legendary racers such as Wayne Rainey and Barry Sheene.