After going over three months without seeing MotoGP™ bikes turn wheels in anger, we were all treated to the sweet symphony of hearing the fastest two-wheel machines on the planet rip around the Losail International Circuit in the Official 2021 MotoGP™ Qatar Test. Three days of busy track action have been and gone and now, after Monday and Tuesday on the sidelines, three more hugely anticipated days are coming up this week.
And it’s three days that are going to be incredibly important for every single manufacturer, team and rider. Three pre-season test dates with the Losail International Circuit remain between now and lights out for the 2021 season in this condensed schedule, and it’s currently Yamaha and Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) who claim fastest lap honours.
But so much is going to happen in the next three days. More technical innovations, riders getting to grips with new machines and lap times – you’d think – tumbling as testing ramps up. Second fastest so far Jack Miller has already hinted that Ducati Lenovo Team have some more tricks up their sleeve, so what are the leading innovators going to debut in the coming days? The Bologna boys have looked good so far, but of course, it’s early days yet.
Aprilia Racing Team Gresini’s brand-new RS-GP has also looked good in the hands of Aleix Espargaro, and we’re going to find out just how much the Noale factory have gained on the leading pack between Wednesday and Friday. The Spaniard closes out the top three so far after leading the way on Day 1, seemingly very pleased with Aprilia’s hard work done over the winter to bring an all-new package to the fold in 2021.
Saturday’s opening day was when we got to see many riders begin their new premier class adventures. Valentino Rossi debuted on the Petronas Yamaha SRT, Pol Espargaro’s adaption to Repsol Honda Team is seemingly going as smooth as a hot knife through butter, while Danilo Petrucci takes his time – in terms of lap time anyway – to show us what he’s got on the Tech3 KTM Factory Racing RC16. Johann Zarco (Pramac Racing), Miguel Oliveira (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing), Miller and teammate Francesco Bagnaia all look to be enjoying life in new colours too. The likes of Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) have also been quick, but crashes have hampered the two-time 2020 podium finisher’s test so far.
And four rookies will be looking forward to three more days on track too. Fastest of them so far is reigning Moto2™ World Champion Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama Racing), the Italian is currently just 1.5s from Quartararo’s time – impressive. Lorenzo Savadori (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini), Luca Marini (SKY VR46 Avintia) and Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) are also hovering at just over half a second away from the fastest men. After two and a half days on track – the opening hours of the Shakedown being affected by high winds – it’s great to see all four riders getting used to MotoGP™’s animals, with the remaining testing hours now being some of the most important laps they’ll have ever faced.
Plenty has happened so far, but plenty more is to come. Keep up with every lap via Live Timing throughout the day with track action getting underway at 12:00 CET, before you can tune into After the Flag LIVE at 18:30 CET for analysis, reactions, interviews and more!