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Ducati leaves Qatar the happiest team after torrential rain ended any chance of track action on the last day of the final preseason test.
It was a disappointing end to the test at the Losail International Circuit on Monday as torrential rain meant that race direction had to issue a red flag early on as conditions proved hazardous. Although the green flag did appear with over 3 hours left to go, by that point most of the teams had packed up and were in the process of leaving the circuit, meaning that no riders made it onto the track today to set a lap time.
With today’s action curtailed, Ducati will leave the test the happiest of the manufacturers, after dominating proceedings during the first two days. The Italian manufacturer completed a 1-2 on Saturday and only missed out on achieving the same feat on the second day by 0.013s.
Andrea Dovizioso led the way on the overall timesheets as the only rider to get under the 1’55 mark, setting a 1’54.907 and beating Casey Stoner’s circuit record by over two-tenths of a second in the process, while his teammate Iannone finished in 3rd 0.197s back. The test also saw the revival of Ducati’s “winglets” as they appeared on Dovizioso’s bike during Sunday, with the fins designed to enhance the aerodynamics of the bike. Dovizioso stated that he was happy with the GP15’s pace, which was even more impressive considering he said that they had not used the softer tyre available to them, as part of the concessions made to them as a factory team without a race win since 2013.
Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez was the only rider to threaten the domination of the Ducatis and ended the three-day test in 2nd place, just 0.184s off Dovizioso. Marquez, who was focusing on finding his perfect race setup, was the only rider to get within a half a second of the Ducatis, although he stated that he does not see the GP15 as serious competition come the start of the season, instead focusing on the Yamahas and his own teammate as his main rivals. Dani Pedrosa on the other Repsol Honda finished the test down in 6th, having never really threatened the top of the timesheets as he tried out a different set of front forks on Sunday, and was 0.675s slower than the leading rider.
Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi both admitted their frustrations over the first two days, as they could not get within 0.5s of Dovizioso’s fastest time on their Movistar Yamaha YZR-M1’s. Lorenzo improved over the course of the test, shaving three-tenths off his best time from Saturday, and finishing ahead of his teammate in 4th. Rossi was a further 0.081s back, but managed to improve by over half a second over the two days as he put in his fastest lap late in the evening on Sunday.
Cal Crutchlow was the leading satellite rider throughout the test on his factory spec CWM LCR Honda RC213V. The British rider escaping unharmed from a small crash on Sunday to finish in 7th, just seven-tenths back from Dovizioso, and went on to say he was happy with the progress made by his team, although there was still room for improvement. His teammate Jack Miller continued his adjustment to the premier class on his Open spec RC213V-RS, and he managed to finish within two-seconds of the leader in 22nd place.
Team Suzuki Ecstar had a mixed test in Qatar, with Aleix Espargaro impressing for the returning factory team on the first day when he finished 4th fastest. Unfortunately he was one of only two riders not to improve his time on the second day, and ended up in 10th place overall. Class rookie Maverick Viñales also had some issues as he had to end his testing early on day one after two minor crashes meant he had damaged both of his bikes. Unlike Espargaro he did manage to improve his time on Sunday, finishing the three days in 14th place, just over two-tenths behind his teammate.
It was an encouraging test for Monster Tech 3 Yamaha as both riders managed to finish inside the top ten, within 0.01s of each other. Bradley Smith, who finished ahead of his teammate in 8th, used the Sunday to test out a new swingarm, and stated that he feels the bike is “95%” there ahead of the first race in Qatar. Pol Espargaro improved by almost a second over the two days to end in 9th, after resolving an issue that was causing a lack of confidence in his front tyre.
AB Motoracing’s Karel Abraham ended the three days as the top Open class rider, finishing in 10th overall and having improved his time from the first day by almost a second.
Pramac Racing’s Yonny Hernandez continued to recover from his shoulder injury as he finished the test in 12th on his factory spec Ducati, while his teammate Danilo Petrucci failed to improve his time from day one and ended up in 17th.
Scott Redding on the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Racing Honda ended the test saying he was happy with the way he had closed the gap on the leading riders, as he managed to put in a 16-lap race simulation on the second day. The British rider finished in 12th overall, less than a second behind Dovizioso, and more importantly only 0.221s behind the factory Honda of Pedrosa.
Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera and Mike Di Meglio ended up in 15th and 18th respectively on the Open class Ducati’s, while it was an encouraging test for the Drive M7 Aspar team with Nicky Hayden finishing in 16th place and his teammate, class rookie Eugene Laverty, ending the three days only 1.435s behind the leading Ducati in 19th.
Athina Forward Racing brought a new fairing to Qatar to evaluate and despite crashing on Sunday, Stefan Bradl ended the three days in 21st, just over two-tenths quicker than his teammate Loris Baz in 23rd.
Aprilia Racing Team Gresini leave Qatar having decided on the base versions of their RS-GP bike that each rider will use in the first race. Alvaro Bautista finished the test in 24th, only 0.117s ahead of the Octo Ioda ART bike of Alex De Angelis. His teammate Marco Melandri once again occupied last place on the timesheets as he finished 3 seconds slower than Dovizioso, although he had managed to close the gap to the leading rider by almost 0.7 seconds over the three days.
With less than 1 second separating the top 14, and only 2 seconds between the leading 22 riders, the MotoGP™ paddock will return to Qatar on 29 March for the first race of the 2015 season.
Click here for combined results from the test.
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#qatartest day 3! How ironic, rain in the desert! After years with my mechanic holding the umbrella, now me... Nice
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