Qatar 1 MotoGP Test Subscriber Notes: Where The Six MotoGP Factories Stand After Two Days Of Testing

Far from being a day of rest, on Sunday, the real work of testing began at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar. After a day to wrap their collective heads around the mind-bending speeds which riding a MotoGP bike involves, the riders got down to the work of sifting through the collection of parts the factories have brought in their quest for victory. And in racing, victory only comes through speed.

Questions were raised, and some were answered, though only partially in most cases. That doesn't matter as much as it might at a normal test, of course, because the riders and teams will only be heading back to their hotels for two days, to relax a little, to recover (for the riders), or to dive as deeply as possible into the data to try to learn as many lessons as possible ahead of the next test, which starts on Wednesday.

So what did we learn? A quick run through MotoGP's six manufacturers.

Yamaha

The big question for Yamaha was whether the 2021 chassis was the step forward that the riders had been hoping for. The 2021 chassis is not so much a step forward as half a step back a compromise between last year's frame and the 2019 chassis which Franco Morbidelli used to such good effect in 2020.

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Qatar 1 MotoGP Test Sunday Final Times: Quartararo Tops Final Day Of First Qatar Test

Fabio Quartararo has ended the first Qatar MotoGP test on top of the timesheets. The Monster Energy Yamaha rider was the only rider to crack into the 1'53s, ending the day half a second behind Marc Marquez' outright lap record at the Losail International Circuit.

Jack Miller was second fastest on the test, the factory Ducati rider having spent most of the day evaluating Ducati's new aero package. Aleix Espargaro was third fastest on the 2021 Aprilia RS-GP, a thousandth of a second ahead of Franco Morbidelli on the 2019-spec Yamaha M1.

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Qatar 1 MotoGP Test Sunday 8pm Times: Aleix Espargaro Leads, Franco Morbidelli Closes

Aleix Espargaro continues to lead the way as the MotoGP test in Qatar enters its last hour. The Aprilia rider's advantage is razor thin, however, Franco Morbidelli having closed to within a thousandth of a second. Honda test rider Stefan Bradl is third quickest, ahead of Ducati's Jack Miller.

The two Yamahas of Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo are fifth and sixth fastest, while the two Suzukis of Joan Mir and Alex Rins are seventh and eight fastest. Miguel Oliveira is best KTM rider, and puts all six MotoGP manufacturers in the top nine.

Times at 8pm:

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Qatar 1 MotoGP Test Sunday 6pm Times: Hondas Lead The Way

Stefan Bradl has been joined by his Repsol Honda teammate Pol Espargaro at the top of the timesheets at 6pm on the second day of the Qatar MotoGP test. The Spaniard is quickly getting up to speed on the RC213V, and just a few thousandths of a second slower than the HRC test rider.

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Qatar 1 MotoGP Test Saturday Round Up: Getting Back Up To Speed, A Fast Aprilia, Ducati's Aero, And Rossi's Motherly Advice

This is not a normal era, thanks to the Covid-19 pandemic, and the pandemic touches things in unexpected ways. Sure, we knew that MotoGP testing had been restructured because of Covid-19, the Sepang test being dropped and an extra test in Qatar being added in its place.

But like all things in life, it is not quite as simple as it looks at first glance. Because the two Qatar tests are scheduled so closely together, the teams are not treating them as two separate tests. As far as the teams, and especially the factories, are concerned, there is not a two-day test and a three-day test. Instead, there is one five-day test with a two-day break in the middle.

Viewing the next week as a single test means drawing up a totally different testing plan. Instead of cramming a race simulation run into the first two-day test, then another in the second three-day test, the teams are working methodically towards arriving at a race setup ready for next Thursday or Friday, when they can do a proper long run in readiness for the first race of the 2021 MotoGP season on March 28th.

The long test

All that means that the first day of testing was, not exactly relaxed, but a little more focused and methodical. There was no rushing to complete a program; instead the riders had time to get back up to speed after three months off a MotoGP bike, and the teams spent their time working out a base setup to use as a benchmark for measuring progress.

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Qatar 1 MotoGP Test Saturday Final Times: Espargaro Tops First Day Of MotoGP Testing

Aleix Espargaro has ended the first day of testing for the MotoGP class at Qatar on top of the timesheets. The 2021 Aprilia RS-GP is capable of posting a fast lap, as Espargaro lapped under the race lap record.

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Qatar 1 MotoGP Test Saturday 8pm Times: Aleix Espargaro Under Race Lap Record

In the hour reserved for the MotoGP race on the 28th of this month, the riders stepped up their speeds on the first day of the MotoGP test at Qatar. Aleix Espargaro is now under the race lap record, the 2021 Aprilia RS-GP showing an excellent turn of speed. Honda test rider Stefan Bradl is second, while Joan Mir has shown the Suzuki has some one-lap pace as well, setting the third fastest time just a fraction behind Bradl.

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Qatar 1 MotoGP Test Saturday 7pm Times: Johann Zarco Takes Over At The Top

Pramac Ducati rider Johann Zarco has taken over the top of the timesheets with two hours to go on the first day of the MotoGP test at Qatar. The Frenchman bumped Aprilia rider Aleix Espargaro down into second, while luxury Honda test Stefan Bradl is in third. Factory Ducati rider Jack Miller is in fourth, ahead of a Yamaha armada led by Maverick Viñales, and followed by Franco Morbidelli, Fabio Quartararo, and Yamaha's new test rider Cal Crutchlow.

Times at 7pm:

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Qatar 1 MotoGP Test Saturday 6pm Times: Aleix Espargaro Leads On New Aprilia RS-GP

The track has been busy on the first day of testing for MotoGP. At 6pm, around the time the sun goes down, it was Aleix Espargaro fastest, three tenths off the race lap record, but 1.7 seconds slower than the outright lap record. Honda test rider Stefan Bradl was second quickest, ahead of Fabio Quartararo on the Yamaha. Miguel Oliveira was first KTM in fourth, ahead of Valentino Rossi in fifth.

Times at 6pm:

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Qatar 1 MotoGP Shakedown Test Round Up: Tricky Conditions, Ducati's Funky Aero, And What Surprises A MotoGP Rookie

The layout of the Losail International Circuit is fantastic. It has flowing corners, a fast straight, hard braking and fast changes of direction. It suits many different types of bike, which is why so many manufacturers have been competitive their over the years, sharing wins and podiums. And why the racing has been fantastic there, as a rule.

Its location, however, is less ideal. Leaving aside the political objections to its attitude toward labor relations, the track sits at the edge of a desert peninsula. When the wind blows, it dumps huge quantities of sand on the track. And as Qatar is relatively flat, when the wind blows, it blows pretty hard.

That was the case on Friday, and by the look of things, it is going to be the case for the rest of the weekend. Gusts of up to 40 km/h made riding hard, and with just a few riders out on track on the first day of testing, the shakedown test for test riders and rookies, conditions were very, very far from ideal.

Luxury test rider

Despite that, Stefan Bradl managed a best time of 1'55.614, just seven tenths off Jorge Lorenzo's race lap record, and a sign that the Honda test rider is already up to speed. That is unsurprising: Bradl has already been turning laps at Jerez on the RC213V. But it also demonstrates that the German has been picking up speed generally, his year racing paying off in terms of outright speed.

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Qatar 1 MotoGP Shakedown Test 6pm Times: Riders Struggle In Windy And Dusty Conditions

Testing is underway in Qatar, and the conditions are against the riders. Strong winds are blowing dust across the track, making riding very difficult indeed. That is reflected in the times: Stefan Bradl is fastest at 6pm local time, but his best lap of 1'58.427 is 3.5 seconds slower than Jorge Lorenzo's race lap record of 1'54.927 from 2016, and over 5 seconds slower than Marc Marquez' outright lap record of 1'53.380 from 2019.

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