Losail, Qatar

2017 Qatar MotoGP Final Round Up: Aerodynamics, Other Factories, And Satellite Bikes

Many (though not all) questions were answered at the Qatar MotoGP test. One of the most frustrating questions of the 2017 preseason has been answered at last, however. For weeks, MotoGP pundits have been puzzling over what could be in the 'salad box' slung under the tail of the Ducati Desmosedici GP17. Was it a device to counter chatter (or 'jounce', as it is more properly known)? Was it something to do with Ducati's patent on a variable exhaust nozzle for providing thrust?

At Qatar, Motorcycle News reporter Simon Patterson finally got a straight – though unofficial – answer from Ducati. The 'salad box' contains a bunch of electronics moved from the front of the GP17 to allow Ducati to use their new aerodynamic fairing. That fairing has a much narrower nose, to allow for the large ducts and airfoil surfaces which Ducati have used to replace their winglets. The reduced space in the nose forced Ducati to relocate the components which had previously been on a mount behind the front section of the fairing.

This revelation has allowed me to feel a brief sense of smugness. Since the 'salad box' first made an appearance, I had suspected that the contents of the box had more to do with relocating components from elsewhere, rather than any active function itself. "The question may not necessarily be what is in the box," I wrote before the Qatar test, "but what did putting whatever is in the box in there allow the Desmosedici GP17's designers to move around elsewhere." As it turns out what Ducati's engineers were chasing was some empty space.

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Guest Blog: Mat Oxley - Why Ducati is so fast at Losail

There were three Ducatis in the top five at last weekend’s final preseason tests – which is why Jorge Lorenzo may just make history next week

The two big questions ahead of next week’s season-opening Qatar Grand Prix: will Maverick Viñales win first time out with Yamaha, or will Jorge Lorenzo win first time out with Ducati?

We already know Viñales will most likely be competitive everywhere, while Lorenzo will probably be fast wherever the Ducati works, which includes Losail, where the bike was in the thick of the fight for victory in 2015 and 2016.

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2017 Qatar MotoGP Post-Test Press Releases

Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the final day of the final test in Qatar:


Today Movistar Yamaha MotoGP riders Maverick Viñales and Valentino Rossi completed the third and final day of the 2017 pre-season test. The Factory Yamaha duo were able to enjoy a good amount of track time and concluded the test in first and sixth place respectively in the overall standings.


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2017 Qatar MotoGP Sunday Round Up: The Truth Will Out Soon Enough

Testing is over. Sunday was the last chance for the MotoGP field to work on preparing for the 2017 season, to tweak, refine, experiment. The next time bikes take to the track, in two weeks time, there will be much more at stake than pride and a little bit of psychological advantage. There will no longer be anywhere to hide.

The last day of the test meant a busy schedule, though that is a relative thing at the Losail International circuit. For the best part of two hours, nothing stirred on track bar the bored chatter of riders, mechanics and photographers as they waited for the sun to go down, and the track to cool off enough to go testing. Once testing started, riders started grinding out the laps. Temperatures stayed high enough to stave off the dew, and it was possible to ride until the track closed at 11pm without the risk of crashing on an invisible patch of moisture.

Crash course

Riders didn't need the excuse of moisture to crash, however. In five hours of usable track time, riders crashed fourteen times in total. Some seemed particularly prone, with Sam Lowes going down twice, and Marc Márquez managing to hit the deck three times in a single day. Márquez had a simple explanation for his crashes. "From the first to the last lap, I'm always on the limit," he said. "It try to be in 1'55s, but this is a risk." Márquez paid the price, though he put one crash down to testing a part which didn't work, though he did not specify what.

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2017 Qatar MotoGP Test: Viñales Fastest Overall, Smith Most Improved Rider

Maverick Viñales leaves the final MotoGP test of the 2017 preseason as the fastest rider, completing his domination of testing. The Movistar Yamaha rider ended just seven hundredths of a second ahead of Andrea Dovizioso on the factory Ducati. Dani Pedrosa was third fastest, putting in a quick lap at the end of the test, and finishing another seven hundredths behind Dovizioso.

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2017 Qatar MotoGP Sunday 10pm Times: Viñales Fastest As Test Draws To A Close

The riders are running through the final parts of their test program as the MotoGP test draws to a close at Qatar. With an hour to go, many are now packing up, from fear of crashing as the dew settles.

There have already been plenty of crashes, with Sam Lowes, Aleix Espargaro, Danilo Petrucci, Andrea Iannone and Alvaro Bautista all crashing. Marc Marquez has managed to crash three times on Friday, the most of the day.

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2017 Qatar MotoGP Sunday 9pm Times: Viñales Takes Over At The Top

With the last hour of usable track time approaching, riders are starting to chase fast times. Maverick Viñales has taken over at the top of the timesheets, leapfrogging ahead of the two Ducatis. Andrea Dovizioso is now second, just ahead of his teammate, while Dani Pedrosa has made a big jump to come to fourth, ahead of Repsol Honda teammate Marc Marquez.

The coming hour promises to be frantic, with lots of riders chasing a single fast lap.

Times at 9pm local time:

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2017 Qatar MotoGP Sunday 8pm Times: Lorenzo Leads As Last Day Gets Serious

The final day of MotoGP testing at Qatar - and of the 2017 preseason - is underway. The first two hours of the test saw next to no action, as usual, but after darkness cast its cloak over the circuit, the riders got to work. 

After two hours of serious work, the Ducatis lead the test, Jorge Lorenzo sitting atop the timesheets, a quarter of a second ahead of his teammate Andrea Dovizioso. Marc Marquez is currently third fastest on the Repsol Honda, and the last of the current crop of riders to break into the 1'54s. 

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2017 Qatar MotoGP Test Saturday Press Releases

Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the second day of the Qatar Test:

Movistar Yamaha Tops Second Qatar Test Day

The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team was back on track today for the second day of the MotoGP Official Test Losail. Though the day was not without challenges, the Factory Yamaha crew persevered. Maverick Viñales was quick to get up to pace and topped the timesheets, just slightly ahead of teammate Valentino Rossi in second.

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