In less than 24 hours, we will have MotoGP™ bikes on track again. It’s going to be a sight to behold as factory test riders and premier class rookies take part in the shakedown test before the Official Qatar Test gets underway on Saturday the 6th of March. But who is going to be at the Losail International Circuit, and what’s new?
What’s new… well, a lot! One of the biggest headlines is Valentino Rossi's move to Petronas Yamaha SRT alongside Franco Morbidelli, with Fabio Quartararo moving to Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team to partner Maverick Viñales. All remain on Yamahas but the shuffle is sure to prove an interesting one. Yamaha also bring new test rider Cal Crutchlow to Qatar for testing, as well as Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Kohta Nozane.
At the Ducati Lenovo Team it's all change as Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia move into the factory team and the other Borgo Panigale machines on the grid also greet new faces. Johann Zarco moves to Pramac Racing and has rookie Jorge Martin alongside him, with Avintia also welcoming two rookies: reigning Moto2™ Champion Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama) and his former Moto2™ challenger Luca Marini (Sky VR46 Avintia). Test rider Michele Pirro will also be present for Ducati at the test.
There are a fair few headlines at KTM too. Miguel Oliveira moves into Red Bull KTM Factory Racing alongside Brad Binder, with both now premier class Grand Prix winners and eager to get going. Danilo Petrucci arrives at Tech3 KTM Factory Racing alongside Iker Lecuona to lend another wealth of experience, and the test will also welcome back MotoGP™ Legend Dani Pedrosa as he continues his development work for the Austrian factory.
For Suzuki, meanwhile, the line-up remains the same. Reigning Champion Joan Mir and Team Suzuki Ecstar teammate Alex Rins hit reset as they try and gear up for another assault on the top, and at the test they'll have experienced test rider Sylvain Guintoli on duty, as well as Takuya Tsuda. After discovering such a winning formula in 2020, the Hamamatsu factory will likely be doubling down on that.
At Honda, we won't be seeing Marc Marquez back on track for the Repsol Honda Team just yet in the test, but new teammate Pol Espargaro will be a headline by himself as he settles in. Espargaro will be joined by Stefan Bradl for the test as the experienced German remains Honda test rider. Alex Marquez, meanwhile, settles into LCR Honda Castrol for 2021, joining LCR Honda Idemitsu's Takaaki Nakagami.
Aprilia, with a new bike last year and plenty on the testing programme, retain their line-up this season. Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) will be eager to get going, and he's joined in Qatar for the test by both Lorenzo Savadori and Bradley Smith as the Noale factory get down to work.
Five eagerly anticipated days of testing across seven days are coming up at Losail, before the Moto2™ and Moto3™ riders have their turn ahead of the season opener at the end of March. The excitement is building, so make sure to stay tuned to motogp.com and across social media over the next couple of weeks to get the full lowdown on what happens during the Qatar Test.