Aleix Espargaro tops the timesheets at Qatar as riders get to grips with their new bikes.
After yesterdays testing day restricted to test riders and rookies only, the doors to the Losail International Circuit were opened for all the riders in attendance to join and test which included many riders getting their first taste of a new manufacturer, this includes Pol Espargaro on the Honda and Danilo Petrucci on the Tech3 KTM.
We also got to feast our eyes on Fabio Quartararo in the factory Yamaha colours for the first time whilst Valentino Rossi donned the Petronas suit under the lights at Qatar. Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia also showed up in their Ducati red suits as they tested for the factory team for the first time and Miguel Oliveira rode the factory KTM for the second time, the first being Aragon 2017 when he rode the RC16 in a private test for the Austrian manufacturer in factory colours.
It was an interesting day of testing with Aprilia once again coming out hot with their new evolution with the hopes of fixing their issues of unreliability which plagued them in 2020 and forced them to de-tune the monster they had created.
Aleix Espargaro topped the timesheets in an impressive manner, taking the P1 spot with a few hours left to go in the test and held it until the very end, the new evolution of the RS-GP proving to be quite competitive. The team have introduced many updates to the bike regarding the chassis and a ‘salad box’ with the aim of improving their bikes reliability as there it not much use having a fast bike that only operates at 80% of its capacity.
Stefan Bradl once again appears to be Honda’s best test rider they ever could’ve asked for following the completion of the 2020 MotoGP season and testing duties for Honda after Marc Marquez suffered an injury in the opening round of the season. Bradl took the P2 spot overall during the test and looks incredibly positive riding the Honda which gave Pol Espargaro the biggest smile of his life after his first run on the RC213V.
Reigning champion Joan Mir occupied the third-place spot in the test and is looking to make improvements on the bike ahead of 2021 and also the 2022 season, he intends to test the 2022 engine for Suzuki in preparation for next year taking into account 2021’s freeze on development for manufacturers without concessions. His teammate Alex Rins placed in P8.
It was a solid day for Jack Miller in his first day donning the Ducati red, he took P4 and tested Ducati’s new winglets which are detailed below, Johann Zarco also had a positive day in P6 after trying the GP21 for the first time. The Frenchman has made the jump from a GP19 to a GP21 therefore has some adjustments and adaptions to make to the bike but is in good spirits. Sandwiched in between the Ducati boys was Miguel Oliveira in P5 who starts the season positively riding the 2020 RC16 which handed him 2 race wins last year.
Quartararo rode the factory Yamaha for the first time
Yamaha once again showed signs of difficulty with Franco Morbidelli finishing in P7 as the highest Yamaha ahead of Maverick Vinales in P9, Valentino Rossi in P14 and Fabio Quartararo in P15, the quartet have much work to do on their hands with Yamaha test rider Cal Crutchlow confirming that the bike is significantly worse than the bike he raced in 2013 before his Ducati move.
LCR Honda teammates Alex Marquez and Takaaki Nakagami finished the test in P10 and P11 with Marquez suffering a large crash early on in the session and having to test his #2 bike as a result of this spill.
Further down the order Pol Espargaro finished in P17 as he gets to grips with how the Honda works, he did not attempt any fast laps and instead worked on the feel with the bike and how to manage the incredibly difficult Honda which has caused many riders to struggle.
P23 is where Petrucci found his place in the test, he also is adapting to the KTM which he looks absolutely huge on and will find his rhythm with more experience. He confirmed his adoration for the bike and is incredibly pleased with how the transition from red to orange is going stating that the bike is capable of later braking with more stability.
Luca Marini finished the test in last place for the full time riders, the rookie struggling to get to grips with the bike saying, “I have to work on ergonomics because I’m not comfortable on the bike, with the seat, the handlebars and more. I was already on the bike one day at Ducati, but only because of the sensations. There were a lot of new parts yesterday, and the position of sitting is different on this bike than all the other ones I got used to before.”
New Aero for Ducati
Ducati also debuted a new aero package which includes winglets at the bottom of the fairing, the winglet has given Pirro some good feelings regarding braking and has also been tested by Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia who was able to accidentally break the fairing.