Maverick Vinales will go into the new MotoGP season having been both quickest of all over a single lap at the final Qatar test and extremely strong in terms of race pace.

The Monster Yamaha rider moved to the head of the timesheets by just 0.033s over Petronas Yamaha's Franco Morbidelli during the final hour of testing.

It put Vinales on top of a day's testing for the first time in 2020, but it was his pace on used tyres that saw him tipped as a firm favourite for the opening round at the same Losail circuit on March 8.

Unlike Petronas Yamaha riders Fabio Quartararo and Morbidelli, Vinales didn't do a complete race distance this weekend.

But during a 10-lap run on day two, Vinales was several tenths under Quartararo's long-run pace on day three and Vinales again showed no signs of the tyre degradation issues that struck team-mate Valentino Rossi during an eight-lap stint on the final night (below).

"Today has been a really good day for us because we have been working with very used tyres, especially when the conditions were difficult," Vinales confirmed.

"We were trying to adapt ourselves when the conditions weren‘t good. I tried my best with used tyres because sometimes in the race you get a kind of difficult feeling. So, I tried to understand what I have to do when the condition is not good on the track.

"I‘m very happy, the team has been working in a really good way. Six days of testing, and I feel good with the bike. I feel the bike is there, and now we need to continue working, because there‘s a good progression but it‘s still not enough.

"Honestly, I enjoyed these last three days on the bike so much. For sure it‘s going to be a long week, so I can‘t wait for next Friday and especially Sunday on the grid."

"Maverick is looking really strong," confirmed team manager Massimo Meregalli. "Of course, it‘s a nice confidence boost to have him in first place in the timesheets, but it‘s mostly his race pace that we are pleased with. "



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