Maverick Viñales was once again the talk of the MotoGP paddock as he ended the second night of testing in Qatar on top of the timesheet - and is yet to try the full Suzuki seamless gearbox.
On a night that didn't see many riders post a plethora of lap times due to Michelin bringing only two front tyre compounds to Qatar, Viñales was 0.072s faster than reigning world champion Jorge Lorenzo with a lap that was four tenths under his own Wednesday best.
Looking beyond his times, it was Viñales' comments on how his Suzuki will behave at the beginning of a race and during the latter laps that stood out, as he believes the '16 engine's added power will aid his quest in the opening laps of a race, while his best times were coming at the end of six and seven lap runs.
“I push to be in the 1m '55 with the full tank but it was dangerous so we decided to stop,” said the Catalan, who ended Thursday early. “Anyway, tomorrow we'll try again. The first part of the practice I did with a [hard tyre] so it was difficult to make it. Then when I put the good tyres in my old chassis I was quite confident. I did three laps and did a fast lap time. Then I was concentrated on the bike. We improved the electronics and improve a little from yesterday.
“For us it will be really good. Last year, in the last part of the races, we were really strong. I think this year we will be strong. Today I did six or seven laps and after seven my best lap times were coming. For sure I feel quite good and confident with the tyre from the first lap until the end."
On his bike's feeling with a full tank he continued, “Today I was feeling quite good with the full tank in the brake point. I mean if I start at the front for sure I will be aggressive and do my best to be in the front in the first laps. Last year it was difficult to fight because we couldn't keep the speed on the straights. I think this year we can even try to pass. Sure, I will be quite aggressive if I feel that I can be at the front.”
While team-mate Aleix Espargaro tried Suzuki's new fully seamless gearbox (upshifts and downshifts) on Thursday, and opined that the model still needs some work to be totally effective, Viñales spent the day with factory's first incarnation (upshift only).
After setting his best time on the '15 chassis, Viñales has the chance to test the new frame tomorrow before coming to a definitive decision for the season opening raced.
“For sure we have one more chance tomorrow to try. Still I did the fast lap times with the old one. Anyway, we have positive things that we need to analyse and bring to the old one. If we can do this then we can be quite strong.”