DOHA, QATAR - MARCH 12: Maverick Vinales of Spain and Movistar Yamaha MotoGP rounds the bend during the MotoGP Tests In Losail at Losail Circuit on March 12, 2017 in Doha, Qatar. (Photo by Mirco Lazzari gp/Getty Images)

The opening practice session of the 2017 MotoGP season got underway on the Losail circuit earlier this morning with Yamaha rider Maverick Viñales falling right back into his winter testing groove, smoothly building up his pace as he circulated the track under the floodlights.

With all 23 MotoGP riders eager to start the new season, traffic offered an extra obstacle, but the young Spaniard was unfazed and stormed to the top of the standings with a 1:55.668 lap and more than 30 minutes remaining.

Feeling confident with his progress, the Spaniard worked on the bike‘s electronics around the 5.4km circuit.

His time set in the early stages was untouchable for the competition until the pace picked up in the final minutes of the session. However, he wasn‘t shy to respond and dropped a 1'54.739s for the provisional lead in the standings. Showing he meant business, he followed it up with a 1'54.316s lap to extend his lead after day one to +0.596s.

"I ‘m feeling good. During the last part of the test I felt confident and today I felt the same,” he said. “I went out on the same bike and the track was looking good, so I just pushed and tried to do my best. The bike is working great and the team is doing a good job all the time and we improved the electronics a bit, so that helped to set today‘s lap time. At the end, I put in a new tyre and set that 1‘54.316s.”

“ The important thing is that tomorrow we‘ll work really hard on the race pace. Today we were feeling good on the medium tyres and I was able to set nice lap times, but we decided to put in the new tyre anyway, so in case it rains tomorrow we‘ll be in Q2.”

“ The track was little bit dirty and windy on the first couple of laps, but then the wind calmed down so we had more power on the bike and that helped a lot. The first laps were quite difficult with the wind, the bike was wheelying and there wasn‘t a lot of grip on the circuit, but suddenly the track improved a lot and when I put in the new tyre I just had to push and go for it”

Qatar MotoGP Free Practice 1:

1.Maverick VIÑALES,Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – 1'54.316
2.Marc MARQUEZ,Repsol Honda Team – 1'54.912 +0.596 / 0.596
3.Dani PEDROSA,Repsol Honda Team – 1'55.210 +0.894 / 0.298
4.Jonas FOLGER,Monster Yamaha Tech 3 – 1'55.587 +1.271 / 0.377
5.Jorge LORENZO,Ducati Team – 1'55.607 +1.291 / 0.020
6.Loris BAZ,RealeAvintia Racing – 1'55.624 +1.308 / 0.017
7.Cal CRUTCHLOW,LCR Honda – 1'55.639 +1.323 / 0.015
8.Johann ZARCO,Monster Yamaha Tech 3 – 1'55.792+ 1.476 / 0.153
9.Valentino ROSSI,Movistar Yamaha MotoGP – 1'55.799 +1.483 / 0.007
10.Aleix ESPARGARO,Aprilia Racing Team Gresini – 1'55.872 +1.556 / 0.073
11.Andrea DOVIZIOSO, Ducati Team – 1'55.873 +1.557 / 0.001
12.Scott REDDING,OCTO Pramac Racing – 1'56.000 +1.684 / 0.127
13.Andrea IANNONE,Team SUZUKI ECSTAR – 1'56.027 +1.711 / 0.027
14.Alvaro BAUTISTA,Pull&BearAspar Team – 1'56.128 +1.812 / 0.101
15.Karel ABRAHAM,Pull&BearAspar Team – 1'56.399 +2.083 / 0.271
16.Danilo PETRUCCI,OCTO Pramac Racing – 1'56.419 + 2.103 / 0.020
17.Jack MILLER,EG 0,0 Marc VDS – 1'56.453 +2.137 / 0.034
18.Alex RINS,Team SUZUKI ECSTAR – 1'56.502 +2.186 / 0.049
19.Tito RABAT,EG 0,0 Marc VDS – 1'56.725 +2.409 / 0.223
20.Hector BARBERA,RealeAvintia Racing – 1'56.725 +2.409