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Thailand test: Crutchlow fastest on the first day at Buriram

Written by  Feb 16, 2018

Cal Crutchlow topped the first day of testing at Chang International Circuit, taking over from reigning Champion Marc Marquez later in the session to set a 1:30.797.

Despite setting the fastest lap so far by a MotoGP rider at the new venue, the Brit was nevertheless only 0.012 ahead of a late charge from Alex Rins by the end of action. Marquez was third, just 0.033 ahead of 2017 Championship rival Andrea Dovizioso.

 Weather was hot and edging 40 degrees for some time on Day 1 – with few riders putting in truly “long” runs. But the workload was far from light, with Crutchlow putting in 70 laps despite a crash and that number representative for many on the grid. The Brit was joining third fastest Marquez and his teammate Dani Pedrosa – also a crasher on Friday – on HRC test duty, and all three men were in the top five, which was covered by only two tenths.

Rins’ second place was equally impressive. The Spaniard, going into only his second season and having suffered some problems with injury last year, had good pace throughout most of the day and his late charge looked set to see him take over at the top until his final sector.

But it was only 0.012 off Crutchlow, and teammate Andrea Iannone made it double delight for Suzuki in the top ten, ninth quickest as the Hamamatsu factory tested, amongst other things, a new exhaust already tested in Sepang, as well as continuing their work on engine configurations.

Dovizioso, meanwhile, took back the honour of top Ducati on Day 1 in Thailand, and was only 0.033 off Marquez. The two men were locked together at the top for some time, before aero began to steal the headlines away from the timesheets.

Ducati are expected to have three new aero fairings at Buriram, and Dovizioso tried two of them on Day 1. Chassis updates could also be on the cards for the Borgo Panigale factory in Thailand, aimed at mid-corner improvements– something that would aid Sepang’s fastest Jorge Lorenzo even more. At Buriram on Friday, the five-time Champion was tenth fastest, just over four tenths off Crutchlow.

Danilo Petrucci was another Ducati presence in the top ten as he took P6 on the GP18 on test duty, just ahead of his new teammate Jack Miller. Miller was again a force to be reckoned with and looked settled in – only 0.041 off the Italian ahead of him.

There was also an Italian behind him – Valentino Rossi. On his 39th birthday, the ‘Doctor’ took eighth and was the quickest Yamaha, putting in an impressive 74 laps and topping the lap counter for the Iwata marque.

Teammate Maverick Viñales was P11, but only a tenth further back – with the timesheets incredibly close. Incredibly close was also apt for Johann Zarco, who was 0.011 off Viñales to take twelfth – and also confirmed that he will be using the 2016 chassis this season.

 Can Movistar Yamaha fix their problems in Thailand? 

His new teammate for the Thai test was a new face in the premier class: Hafizh Syahrin, who is riding with Monster Yamaha Tech 3 during the event with a view to replacing Jonas Folger full time in 2018. Syahrin, the first Malaysian in MotoGP, was within half a second of fellow rookies Xavier Simeon and the slightly faster – despite sitting out the Valencia test last year – Tom Lüthi.

The quickest rookie, however, was Takaaki Nakagami once again. The Japanese rider was P17 overall but within nine tenths of the top, with reigning Moto2 World Champion Franco Morbidelli close behind in P19 but only half a tenth further back. With 20 riders within a second, half a tenth makes its mark.

Tito Rabat  was P13 on Day 1 and only 0.002 ahead of Alvaro Bautista as the two Independent Team Ducati riders just edged ahead of the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini riders. Aleix Espargaro was P15 for Noale factory Aprilia, and teammate Scott Redding was right behind him and both within nine tenths.

source: motogp.com

 

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