Vinales recovers from first Yamaha crash to extend Qatar dominance


Everything already seems to be going the way of Maverick Vinales in MotoGP this year.

The 22-year-old has left the likes of reigning world champion Marc Marquez, decorated new team-mate Valentino Rossi and rivals Jorge Lorenzo and Dani Pedrosa choking in his dust since making the move from Suzuki to Yamaha.

The first real test of the Spaniard's burgeoning title credentials has arrived in the form of this weekend's season-opening Qatar Grand Prix.

And with it came a wobble that might have offered hope to the usurped heavyweight riders, Vinales suffering his first fall in an official session for Yamaha early on Friday.

But such is the charmed life being led by the former Moto3 champion, he escaped unscathed and went on to maintain his dominance at the top of the time sheets, securing a direct route to Q2 thanks to his combined practice results.

Vinales ended the third free practice session at the Losail race track on top of the pile with a time of 1 minute 54.834 seconds, ahead of former Suzuki team-mate Andrea Iannone (+0.014secs), with Johann Zarco of Monster Yamaha Tech 3 third quickest (+0.174secs).

Seven-time world champion Valentino Rossi squeezed himself into Q2 as he placed 10th across the sessions, but Jorge Lorenzo will go into Q1 after his first outing on the Ducati could only bring the 12th fastest time.

Earlier, Scott Redding of Octo Pramac Racing (1:55.085) had grabbed the spotlight by going fastest in FP2, followed by Ducati's Andrea Dovizioso and Zarco's team-mate Jonas Folger.