Vinales blazes to first, Marquez feels pain in Sepang MotoGP test

Maverick Vinales, who rode 63 laps in Sepang, pulled off an incredible performance in the closing moments to post the fastest time of 1 minute and 58 seconds. (AFP pic)

SEPANG: Yamaha’s Maverick Vinales made a late charge to finish first on day two of the MotoGP pre-season test in Malaysia Thursday, while champion Marc Marquez slipped to eighth after suffering from an injured shoulder.

Vinales of Spain, who rode 63 laps in Sepang, pulled off an incredible performance in the closing moments to post the fastest time of 1min 58.897sec.

Rival Alex Rins, on a Suzuki, maintained his overnight position and was 0.527 seconds behind his countryman.

Jack Miller made a big improvement on his Ducati to finish third with 1min 59.517sec. The Australian had ended 11th on Wednesday.

Meanwhile, MotoGP world champion Marc Marquez slipped from first to eighth, complaining of pain from his left shoulder after surgery in December.

The 25-year-old reigning and five-time champion completed only 37 laps, fewer than half the number of laps completed by some riders. He underwent a four-hour shoulder operation in December.

“In the beginning, I felt better than yesterday. Then immediately in the 2nd and 3rd runs I started to feel the energy go down on the shoulder and started to lose power and more pain,” he said after ending his test runs much earlier than planned.

But Marquez quickly downplayed concerns about not being ready for the opening Qatar race in March.

“I will not be 100% in Qatar… but it will not be a big problem. My target is to arrive in Argentina 100%,” he said, referring to the season’s second race on March 31.

Marquez also said he was not prepared to push hard during the Sepang test due to fears that it could cause inflammation to his shoulder muscles.

“I can keep riding and riding in pain but the problem is if I have a big inflammation, I lose one week of my recovery,” he said.

Ducati rider Italian Andrea Dovizioso set the early pace on day two but finished fourth, 0.665sec off the fastest rider.

Englishman Cal Crutchlow, returning from the ankle injury that ended his 2018 season early, put up a strong performance on his LCR Honda to end fifth.

Valentino Rossi, in his 24th year of motorcycle grand prix, was sixth.

The official first pre-season test runs ends Friday.

The season starts in Qatar on March 10. Sepang will host the penultimate race of 2019 on November 3.