MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Who will be 2021 MotoGP world champion?
Testing is done and the racing starts next week, so who are the contenders and who are the outsiders for the 20th four-stroke MotoGP world championship?
Asking someone to predict the outcome of MotoGP 2021 after just four days of preseason testing – and all of it around a track which has little relevance to the rest of the championship – is like asking them to predict which Michelin tyre will work best at the next racetrack.
Losail is an unusual circuit and conditions are unique, which is why only five times since the inaugural 2004 Qatar GP has the race winner gone on to take the MotoGP title.
In other words, don’t take much notice of testing and don’t even take too much notice of who wins the first race of the year on March 28.
But the four days of testing from Losail are all we’ve got to go on, so what have we learned, if anything? Who are the contenders and who are the outsiders?
Jack Miller was quickest over the four days and one of only two riders to go around Losail faster than anyone has done before. That means he’s kept the speed that he found at the end of last season.
Miller was the only consistently fast Ducati rider during 2020 and a few days ago he told us it had taken him until the last three few races to fully understand how to make the Ducati work with Michelin’s latest rear slick. It’s all about how you load the tyre – he needs to load it more gently and more consistently through each corner, like the inline-fours load the tyre.
Maverick Viñales ended the tests just six-hundredths of a second down on Miller, with the best race pace of anyone on the grid. But we’ve been here before – not for nothing is the Spaniard called the king of winter testing, which makes him more of a title outsider than a contender.
Read the rest of Mat Oxley's blog on the Motor Sport Magazine website.