Following swiftly in the wake of MotoGP™, it is the turn of the Moto2™ and Moto3™ classes to return to the track at Losail, for three Test days. It will be their only pre-season meeting, or at least officially, as some riders and teams have already had the opportunity to ride through private testing, whether it was in Valencia, Portimão or in Jerez.
Those tests allowed teams a chance to refamiliarize themselves with their machines, and surely proved beneficial to riders who have switched garages during the offseason. However, now it is time for them to get serious, with only 10 days between the first Test and Round 1 in Qatar.
Not just a chance for final tune-ups and modifications, but also an opportunity to find that ever so crucial race pace via race simulations, should the conditions allow of course. They'll be hoping for better fortunes than their MotoGP™ counterparts, who fell foul to the weather on their final day of testing, bringing it to a premature end.
In Moto2™, we’ll watch on, with great interest, the journeys of Albert Arenas (Aspar Team) - Moto3™ World Champion, his runner-up Tony Arbolino (Liqui Moly Intact GP) and the three others who followed him making the step up, namely: Ai Ogura (Idemitsu Honda Team Asia), Raúl Fernández (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Celestino Vietti (Sky Racing Team VR46). In private practice, Rául Fernández and Tony Arbolino looked comfortable, but the question needs to be asked, can they continue that form in Qatar?
In addition, seven riders will sport new colours, including four riding different machines from 2020. This is notably the case of Lorenzo Baldassarri (MV Agusta Forward Racing), Hafizh Syahrin (NTS RW Racing GP), Fabio Di Giannantonio (Federal Oil Gresini Moto2) and Stefano Manzi (Pons HP40), who now will be saddled onto MV Agusta, NTS and Kalex chassis.
Elsewhere, the spotlight will surely be focused on the likes of Sam Lowes (ELF Marc VDS Racing) and Marco Bezzecchi (Sky Racing Team VR46): the only riders in the Top 5 from 2020 to not make the move up. They should start the season among the intermediate class frontrunners but they will still have to be wary of the threat from opponents such as Remy Gardner (Red Bull KTM Ajo) and Joe Roberts (Italtrans Racing Team), who reminded everyone what they were capable of in the Portimão season finale in 2020. Let’s not forget Arón Canet (Aspar Team), crowned rookie of the year despite having missed three races. The Valencian could indeed prove to be a dark horse, his Jerez tests indicating he may have a say in the title race!
In Moto3™, again there are many new faces who join the Grand Prix circuit, Lorenzo Fellon (SIC58 Squadra Corse), Adrian Fernández (Sterilgarda Max Racing Team), Izan Guevara (Aspar Team Moto3), Xavier Artigas (Leopard Racing) or Pedro Acosta (Red Bull KTM Ajo).
Seven riders have changed their teams. Among which: Two-time 2020 race winner Jaume Masia moves to Red Bull KTM Ajo, Sergio Garcia to Aspar Team, while the likes Andrea Migno (Rivacold Snipers Team), Niccolò Antonelli (Reale Avintia Moto3) and Darryn Binder (Petronas Sprinta Racing) will all be seen in new colours in 2021.
Scotsman John McPhee (Petronas Sprinta Racing), a veteran of the category, will be looking to get his title challenge off to a strong start! Entering his ninth season on the circuit, earned a podium finish the last time we were here.
Following a longer than usual offseason, riders are itching to get back on two wheels for three days of testing. As always, you can follow the action through our Live Timing from morning to evening, with a report at the end of the day and interviews coming directly from Losail. Stay tuned!