These just in:
Viñales and Rins face off on Day 1
Two Spaniards a tenth apart at the top, ahead of Dovi and Petrucci
Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy MotoGP) topped the first day of the Qatar Test, putting in a 1:55.051 to head the grid after a late charge for supremacy. It was close though, with the Suzuki of Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) just 0.108 back – and the two set those laps close together on track. As always when action returns to Qatar, track conditions need to improve throughout the day and it was therefore fairly late on that a lot of the action took place – and the latter part of the day when Viñales blasted to the top.
That 1:55.051 to put Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP on top was one of 50 laps completed by Viñales on Day 1, and the signs look good for the factory – with teammate Valentino Rossi not far back as he completed the top five after 47 laps. Team Director Massimo Meregalli confirmed the engine had already been decided and that focus was first on comparing data with that from Sepang. Aero, however, remains up in the air – with more to try for the Iwata marque at Losail.
Petronas Yamaha SRT, meanwhile, had more positives – first for rookie Fabio Quartararo. Quickest debutant by a stretch on Saturday, the Frenchman was a stunning seventh overall and less than two tenths off Rossi after 49 laps. Franco Morbidelli was a little further down after the first session, ending the day seven tenths further back in P14.
Alex Rins put in a similar lap count: 48. The Spaniard showed more good form for Hamamatsu factory Suzuki after threatening the top on the first days of the Sepang test too, and this time rookie teammate Joan Mir began the test further up the timesheets as he ended the day in P11. Suzuki had a new exhaust on show and Team Manager Davide Brivio confirmed that the chassis is defined, the engine spec is decided and said that focus was now on fine tuning and the details – including some final aero checks and work on the suspension and settings.
So behind the duo at the top, who came next? Both Mission Winnow Ducatis, with Andrea Dovizioso leading teammate Danilo Petrucci by a mere 0.044 – although they were half a second back. Both put in less laps than some of their competitors, with Dovi doing 29 and Petrucci 37. The latter was only just ahead of Rossi, but 0.010 can make the difference in MotoGP™. Team Manager Davide Tardozzi says, like many up and down pitlane, focus is now on the details – but the Borgo Panigale factory plan to make their final aero decision on Sunday.
Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) kept the good news rolling for Ducati machinery as he ended the day in P6 after 44 laps, happy there’s more room to improve, too, but Alma Pramac Racing, who starred in the Sepang test, were a little further back on Day 1 in Qatar. Francesco Bagnaia was P15 after a 1:56.738, with teammate Jack Miller in P19. Miller said, however, he spent the session doing six to eight lap runs, testing different parts – and lacking the time to be able to put in a tyre to push for a hot lap.
Another surprise on Saturday came from the fastest Honda: Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu). The Japanese rider showed more top pace and put in 45 laps. Teammate Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) spent some time testing parts for HRC and finished the session in P18. Reigning Champion Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team), whose shoulder remains less than 100% after surgery, ended the day in tenth and, like in Sepang, put in only 34 laps. But he was positive and said he’s now back to riding in his more natural style, and he had his first crash of the season with no consequence. On the other side of the garage, the return of Jorge Lorenzo saw the ‘Spartan’ struggle in braking as he comes back from a broken scaphoid, and he focused on continuing to understand the bike. Despite not so many laps and not too many new things to try as yet, the five-time World Champion did mention his desire to modify the seat in an effort to make his new machine a little more ergonomic. Repsol Honda Team Manager Alberto Puig said work on engine and aero is continuing until the last moment for the team – because every possibility is something worth trying – and a new exhaust was one thing spotted.
Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) impressed on Day 1. The Spaniard, who took the Austrian factory’s first premier class podium at Valencia last season, was the trailblazer once again as he finished up Saturday’s action in P9 after 47 laps. Teammate Johann Zarco put in 53 laps and was P16, around eight tenths back, and he was just 0.121 ahead of rookie KTM rider Miguel Oliveira on the Red Bull KTM Tech3. Red Bull KTM Factory Racing Team Manager Mike Leitner specified they’re working on confirming chassis and aerodynamic modifications, and said the goal was to first finish off the test program from Sepang and then find a base setting for the race – as you’d expect. He also added that the items on the agenda are now less, something that speaks of the scale of KTM’s development program given the amount of track time already gone in preseason.
Aprilia, meanwhile, slotted into P12 and P13 with Aleix Espargaro and Andrea Iannone respectively – despite crashes for both. Espargaro did 34 laps and confirmed the bike is a definite improvement on last year’s, and Iannone catapulted himself up the timesheets after struggling with illness and missing much of the Sepang test. The Italian managed 30 laps and was only 0.089 off Espargaro by the end of the day. One key thing the Noale factory were spotted trying was an aero fairing.
That’s it from Day 1 and it was ruled by Viñales and Rins – what will Day 2 bring? Find out from 16:00 local time (GMT+3) on Sunday with more laps in the desert at Losail International Circuit.
The final pre-season test takes place this weekend at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar, ahead of the first race of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship at the same venue in two weeks’ time.
Cal Crutchlow and his LCR Honda CASTROL team were met with difficult track conditions on the first day of three underneath the desert floodlights. The surface was dusty and grip levels were low, as well as the temperatures, which didn’t help the Briton’s feeling with the 2019 Honda RC213V factory machine.
Having worked through the schedule requested by HRC, the team will continue to spend the next two days refining the set-up of the bike before the season proper begins.
Cal Crutchlow – 18th
(1’56.921 – lap 23 of 43)
“The first day here in Qatar has been a difficult day testing for us. We didn’t have a fantastic feeling with the new 2019 Honda on this circuit, but we are here for two more days testing and hope to improve the setting over that time. Hopefully then we can look forward to the race weekend in two weeks’ time”.
“In terms of our work plan, we are going through the general HRC programme as well as making our own adjustments to the bike and the set-up. We just have to wait and see what tomorrow brings.”
Qatar Official Test
Full Repsol Honda Team resume testing program in Qatar
Just a few weeks after the Sepang Test, the MotoGP™ World Championship arrived in Qatar for the final pre-season test of 2019. It was a quiet start to proceedings at the Losail International Circuit as teams and riders waited for night to fall. Conditions improved steadily over the course of the opening evening, track temperature sitting steadily around 23°C until late in the night.
Marc Marquez was amongst the first riders to venture out on track as the sun set and the floodlights were switched on. His initial shake down run produced a 1’57.487, the reigning MotoGP™ World Champion eventually improving to a 1’56.167 to end the opening day of testing in tenth. Marquez suffered a harmless fall at the final corner.
Saturday at the Qatar Test marked Jorge Lorenzo’s on track debut in full the Repsol Honda Team livery. Like his teammate, Lorenzo waited until the sun had set to head out on track and reacquaint himself with the Honda RC213V. For Lorenzo, the opening day was about assessing his still-healing scaphoid and understanding the changes made to the 2019 bike. A 1’57.090 saw him end 21st fastest.
Testing continues on Sunday February 24 at 16:00 local time when Marquez and Lorenzo will continue their development work.
“Honestly today I’m happy with my physical condition compared to Malaysia, we’ve improved a lot. The power is there and I can ride more like myself now. Also, we still have two weeks until the first race and this is the focus. During the night the track got better but we need to keep trying to be closer to the other riders. Now we’ll go analyse everything because during the test here there is not much time.”
“The wrist is OK, obviously I’m struggling under braking but I am able to understand the bike. Time is the big limit, we only have maybe three hours each day because after nine the temperature drops a lot and it’s hard to learn when it’s like this. We didn’t try too many changes on the bike and focused mostly on the ergonomics. Tomorrow we will be closer, it’s still the first day.”
Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi got back in the saddle today at the Losail International Circuit to commence the final three-day preseason test before the start of the 2019 season on 10 March. The riders were back in their element when they swung their legs over their bikes and completed the first day of riding in first and fifth place respectively.
The Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP YZR-M1s looked even more impressive under the floodlights in Qatar. Notably, the bikes featured a special India Yamaha Motor (IYM) Pvt Ltd. logo on the front, just for the Qatar test, as the company are currently celebrating the start of their new brand campaign ‘THE CALL OF THE BLUE’.
Viñales was quickly up to speed. The Spaniard had been looking forward to continuing the work he had started at the Sepang test two weeks ago. The conditions today were very different due to the cooler night temperatures, making for excellent circumstances to further examine his bike’s settings. His hard work paid off. He set the best time of the day, a 1’55.051s, on lap 48/50, topping the timesheets with a 0.108s-margin over his closest rival.
Rossi was also eager to get back to work and followed the same strategy as his teammate, using the early hours of the evening to get most of the work done, before putting his head down about an hour before the end of the session. The Doctor knows like no other how important thorough experimenting can be, and he availed himself of today’s opportunity to finetune his bike, especially since the current conditions should be similar to those expected for the upcoming race, held in a fortnight’s time. The Italian dropped a 1’55.604s on lap 42/47 to end the day 0.553s behind his teammate.
“I’m really happy, because I felt really good on the bike, especially my riding style. I felt comfortable on the bike and for me that’s the most important. This year at four different tracks I felt comfortable on the bike and we could push quite a lot. I’m happy about how we worked today. We haven’t done much testing, we tried just to focus on the main things and found a bit more grip and tried to understand which way to go. Now we have to make a plan for tomorrow.”
“The first day of testing wasn’t too bad. We worked in a good way and in the end I finished with a P5, that’s quite good. We did different work here, we worked more for the Grand Prix, so we had to improve the setting of the bike and the first feelings are not so bad. Already the lap time is quite good. There are some place on track where I have to push more, to bring the bike to the limit, but the first impression is quite positive.”
Not Marlboro Ducati
The Mission Winnow Ducati team concludes the first day of official MotoGP tests at Losail with Dovizioso and Petrucci in 3rd and 4th position respectively
Two weeks after a successful debut on track at the first official MotoGP tests at Sepang (Malaysia), the Mission Winnow Ducati team resumed action at Losail (Qatar) for the second and final pre-season test. The opening session, characterized by outside temperatures around 20 degrees, allowed the team to resume its all-around development program on engine, chassis, electronics, aerodynamics and tyres to further define the base ahead of the fast approaching season opener.
Both Andrea Dovizioso and Danilo Petrucci were able to show their speed right from the start, constantly riding within the top five and posting their fastest laps at the time scheduled for the race, without using the softer tyre compound available. Dovizioso clocked 29 laps, the fastest of which in 1:55.550, finishing the session in third position. Just 44 thousandths of a second behind his teammate, Petrucci was fourth with a personal best of 1:55.594 and 37 laps to his tally.
Andrea Dovizioso (#04 Mission Winnow Ducati) – 1:55.550 (3rd)
“I’m happy with our progress on this opening day. We immediately found a good feeling with the track, which didn’t have much rubber on it but was quite clean, and we managed to post competitive lap times right from the start. We’re all quite close, so the rankings should not be taken into too much account, but what matters is that the feeling with the bike is good. We ticked all the boxes in our program, trying a couple of new solutions and giving a clear feedback to our engineers. Tomorrow we’ll evaluate different things, but in the meantime we can be happy with the work done today.”
Danilo Petrucci (#9 Mission Winnow Ducati) – 1:55.594 (4th)
“For sure we faced different conditions compared with the ones we had found in Malaysia. Here the humidity peaked after sundown, so we decided not to put on a new tyre for our last stints out on track. We focused on the medium compound, with which we found good pace. The track is still not in perfect conditions, but I felt comfortable riding the bike. We tried a few setup changes and we managed to be fast both with new and used tyres. I’m happy, we need to keep working in this direction and tomorrow we’ll try the soft tyre to improve also in terms of pure performance.”
The Mission Winnow Ducati team will resume action tomorrow for the second of three days of official tests.
KTM resumed testing duties for the 2019 FIM MotoGP World Championship today at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar with the Red Bull KTM and Red Bull KTM Tech3 teams making a step closer to full readiness for the season due to start at the same venue in two weeks time. Pol Espargaro managed to register a lap-time to sit 9th fastest.
Initially overcast, humid and surprisingly cool conditions marked the opening day of work at the second of two IRTA pre-season MotoGP tests. Activity got underway with a slight delay in anticipation of optimum track conditions at Losail: the Qatari circuit will celebrate fifteen years as a Grand Prix venue when it hosts the first round of nineteen in the 2019 series on March 10th.
The first outing of three (Sunday and Monday to come) was complicated due to the shorter window for laps and the extensive list of ideas and solutions that the KTM quartet still want to try before the Grand Prix. Espargaro clocked 47 laps: the 43rd being his fastest of the day and leaving him inside the top ten less than a second from the peak of the time screens. Johann Zarco (16th) made 53 circulations and settled 1.7 away from the quickest effort of the evening. The Frenchman is looking for more gains tomorrow. Both riders tried a new chassis setting with the works KTM RC16.
The Red Bull KTM Tech3 crew – shining brightly under the Losail lighting system in their new livery – completed more than 80 laps between them today; Miguel Oliveira (17th) sat just a tenth of a second behind Zarco by the end of the timed period.
Pol Espargaro: “It was quite successful and we were quite close to the lap-time we did here last year. For sure we are missing a bit to the top guys but this is not one of the best tracks for us however we are not so far. With better track conditions tomorrow everyone will improve so we need to make sure we do as well. We’ve been working well. We had a big plan and we still have to test some things that we didn’t have time for in Malaysia as well as confirm other ideas we had from Sepang, things like chassis modifications and some other big things that Mika had tried and we had to see. We are looking forward to continue the test tomorrow. Everything moved so fast today and we didn’t have many hours so tomorrow we’ll have more time and we have to plan.”
Johann Zarco: “We began at a better level than I expected, with a good pace and were improving step-by-step. We were sliding more here than in Malaysia and it was making the bike act differently; I was quite happy at the beginning but then we reached a point where we could not improve and I could not find a better feeling. I hope we can find the solution tomorrow and get faster and faster. We have a lot to test and not too many hours and I just want to feel good and improve. Tomorrow I will analyse and maybe see what I was doing wrong.”
Miguel Oliveira: “The first day felt quite short, to be honest. We started a bit later because of the track conditions but finally we could manage to do some work on the bike. We tested two completely different settings looking for a little bit of stability on the rear and more drive out of the corners. So far, I’m happy with the work.”
Hafizh Syahrin: “We were trying to improve on the last test in Sepang today. We didn’t experiment a lot on the bike, I just tried to further get used to the KTM, working on changing my style. I know, that I’m still a bit far from the front but we keep working on the feeling on the bike. I felt it has been already better than in Malaysia.”
FIRST DAY OF TESTS FOR THE APRILIA RS-GP IN THE NEW 2019 LIVERY
AT LOSAIL ESPARGARÓ AND IANNONE HARD AT WORK ALSO THINKING ABOUT THE OPENING RACE
BRADLEY SMITH ON THE TRACK WITH THE TEST TEAM
It was a good first day of tests in Qatar for the Aprilia Racing Team Gresini. The three days of tests ahead of the World Championship GP Motorcycle Racing season opener also had the test team’s RS-GP on the track with Bradley Smith in the saddle. The work schedule for the Italian team is particularly intense and it is divided between development of the new prototype, which was unveiled precisely for this occasion in the new and aggressive black-based livery, and preparation for the race which will open the MotoGP World Championship on this track March 10th.
Aleix Espargaró worked hard to find the same good sensations he had in the last test in Malaysia two weeks ago. Harmony grew throughout the session that Aleix finished with a time of 1’56.358.
Andrea Iannone turned 30 laps, taking a big step forward in getting to know the bike in what was his first true approach to the RS-GP and finishing just behind his teammate with a time of 1’56.447.
Bradley Smith, who will be racing in Qatar as a wild card, worked primarily on developing the bike, trying various solutions on an aerodynamic level as well, with the first test of a new configuration of the winglets, designed for those tracks that demand a higher load. It was 29 laps for him and a best time of 1’57.137.
“It was a classic first day of testing. At the beginning, I struggled to find those good sensations I had in Malaysia. I also had a harmless crash, but here in Qatar, the actual time of track use is rather low, so it is always a shame to lose time. Then, my confidence gradually increased, but we are only at the beginning, so we will move forward getting to know the 2019 bike, which is proving to be significantly better than the 2018. We are looking for a good setting, also thinking about the first race, so that’s why we’ll be working primarily on the electronics tomorrow and with used tyres, with the goal of being competitive in the second part of the race.”
“I am satisfied with the work done today in what is my first true day of 2019 tests. We are starting from a good base. The bike works well and I am convinced that there is still a lot of potential to explore. This is precisely our goal, to get to know the RS-GP and to keep improving, outing after outing. We have already succeeded with the front. I am braking harder and with better sensations. We also worked to reduce the chattering a bit that limited us on some turns, making steps in the right direction. But above all, we are a united group, with common goals and great harmony, and this is something that is very important for me.”
The final pre-season testing session takes place this weekend at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar, ahead of the first race of the 2019 MotoGP World Championship at the same venue in two weeks’ time.
Takaaki Nakagami continued his fine form in this testing period by ending day one as the top Honda runner in the field, and yet again slotting comfortably into the top ten positions.
The Japanese rider was consistently fast throughout the evening, dropping quickly into the 1’55 bracket in the mid-part of the session. Despite a small crash at turn two towards the end of the night when the temperatures had dropped and humidity had risen significantly, the LCR Honda IDEMITSU man still posted the 8th best time of the day with a 1’55.943.
Takaaki Nakagami – 8th
(1’55.943 – lap 28 of 45)
“For the first day we have had quite a good start. I had a small crash at turn two after 9.30pm, when the temperatures are really low. It was a minor mistake, but I am not injured and the bike was ok”.
“In general the pace is not so bad, and we weren’t even really focusing on the lap times today. We were trying to find a base set-up, and it was going well.”
“We still have another two days, so we will keep calm. We found quite a good solution today, but we need to improve it even further. We had a few problems with rear grip, but this was down to track conditions mainly. We have time, so we need to keep going like this and keep getting amongst those top ten positions.”