P1 for Quartararo as Yamaha, Suzuki continue to look strong

The Frenchman heads Day 1 pacesetter Rins on Day 2 at the Qatar Test as the two Japanese factories lead the way again

Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) set the fastest lap of the Qatar Test to top the timesheets on Day 2 with a 1:54.038, the Frenchman beating Day 1 pacesetter Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) by 0.162 as Yamaha and Suzuki continue to look very strong. Third fastest went to Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) as the top trio were split by 0.226.

In the Yamaha camp, things are looking pretty good if you glance at the timesheets. Quartararo shot to the top with just over an hour and a half of Day 2 remaining with the best time of the test, with Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) claiming P4 and Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) sitting P9. Quartararo commented that he has a better day than he did on Saturday, however the Iwata factory are having some troubles with engine braking, but things don’t seem too bad with all the Yamahas inside the top 10 and their holeshot device seems to be a final version. We’ll wait and see how they utilise that when the lights go out for Round 1 in a couple of weeks times.

One team who won’t be benefiting from a holeshot device at the opening Grand Prix is Team Suzuki Ecstar. Alex Rins and Joan Mir were the men to beat on Day 1 in Qatar but both had a bumpier ride on Day 2, crashes for the duo at Turn 1 and Turn 6 weren’t ideal. Nevertheless, the two Spaniards looked in good shape on the whole as they continued to test the new GSX-RR chassis, as well as some electronic, rear shock and new Michelin tyre testing. Rins said on After the Flag “we are ready” as the Hamamatsu factory sound very confident ahead of the Qatar GP.

Ducati were again using their revolutionary ride height adjuster, with Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) admitting that he’d been using the device for a number of races – and that it’s a big help. It’s also worth noting the GP20’s superior top speed, with Miller describing it as a “rocketship” – the Ducatis topping the timesheets with relative ease. In terms of the timesheets, Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) was the leading Desmosedici for the last couple of hours, the sophomore briefly sitting P1 with two hours remaining as the Italian eventually finished P5, but ‘Pecco’ says he needs “five tenths” to stick with the lead guys in terms of race pace. More grip on the exit is what Bagnaia is looking for most.

Johann Zarco (Reale Avintia Racing) impressed again to sit as the second fastest Ducati on Day 2 in P6. Ducati Team’s Danilo Petrucci said he was pretty happy with his pace, the Italian doing 11 laps on a used tyre and getting into the low 1:55s. Petrucci finished P12 on the timesheets, with teammate Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) P8. The latter said he’s pretty happy with his race pace, but admits there is work to be done to match the Yamahas and Suzukis.

Over at Honda, reigning World Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) suffered a crash at Turn 9. Thankfully he was unhurt but at the end of Day 1, the number 93 admitted he’s suffering more here with his shoulder than he was at the Sepang Test. Honda, in general, seem to be struggling slightly in Qatar, Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) also crashed, Turn 2 the corner with the British rider heading to the medical centre afterwards. This ultimately ended Crutchlow’s day, the number 35 suffering significant swelling to his forearm which caused him to be unable to move his fingers immediately after the crash. He and the team decided it was best to not ride again on Sunday, hopefully Crutchlow will be on track on Monday for the final day of testing.

Front end feel for the two experienced riders is the main problem, with rookie Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) also experiencing some issues. The reigning Moto2™ World Champion has been feeling under the weather at the Qatar Test but he was happier with how Day 2 went compared to Day 1. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) ended the second day as the fastest Honda rider in P10, the Japanese rider enjoying a decent day as he continues to recover from shoulder surgery, with the injury feeling better than it did on Day 1. All in all, a big Day 3 lies ahead for the HRC riders.

There was big news on Sunday for Aprilia as they confirmed Lorenzo Savadori as their new MotoGP™ test rider. For Aleix Espargaro’s (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) Day 2 targets were working on electronics and setting up the engine, as well as trying to figure out why the new RS-GP started suffering in the cooler temperatures – vital for race day in Qatar. And by the sounds of it, Espargaro found something in the cooler temperatures, describing his feeling as “extremely good” at 7pm. The Spaniard did have a crash on Sunday at Turn 4, thankfully he was ok.

Bradley Smith was focusing on the RS-GP’s endurance for the race, the British rider completing 52 laps as the Noale marque continue to learn important information about their new machine.

In the KTM camp, it seems the four riders are pretty much set on the new fairing they’ll be using. Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) admitted they haven’t been going for an outright lap time so far in Qatar, the Spaniard was P13 on the timesheets on Day 2 – 0.852 shy. Working on the new Michelin rear tyre was a must today for the Austrian factory and speaking after Day 2’s action, Red Bull KTM Tech 3 rookie Iker Lecuona admitted he was really happy, the Spaniard completed a race simulation run but knows he still needs to improve in every area.

Miguel Oliveira, Red Bull KTM Tech 3, Qatar MotoGP™ Test

An intriguing final 2020 preseason test awaits on Monday for the MotoGP™ riders, before we then look ahead to the opening round of the new season. Tune into After the Flag LIVE at 17:30 CET for highlights, interviews and reactions from the Qatar Test.

Top 10 Day 2:
1. Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) – 1:54.038
2. Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.162
3. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.226
4. Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) + 0.443
5. Francesco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) + 0.482
6. Johann Zarco (Reale Avintia Racing) + 0.527
7. Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) + 0.574
8. Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team) + 0.624
9. Valentino Rossi (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) + 0.702
10. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) + 0.721

Click here for the full results from Day 1 and Day 2!

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