Adjustable geometry is a bike racing holy grail – Ducati’s new shapeshifting device is the latest stab at achieving it, and probably more top speed as well
Gigi ‘Gadget’ Dall’Igna is up to his tricks again. Ducati’s chief engineer – the man who gave MotoGP wings, holeshot devices, wheel fairings, ‘swinglets’ and much more about which we’ll never know – has come up with a gadget that allows his riders to unleash the Desmosedici’s mighty engine harder than ever.
So testing is done and dusted – at Qatar, quite literally, once the wind picks up – and the pile of parts each factory brought has been sifted through, approved, or discarded. The factories are as ready as they are ever going to be for the first race in Qatar, at which point the real work starts. Testing will only tell you so much; it is only in the race that the last, most crucial bits of data are revealed: how bikes behave in the slipstream; how aggressive racing lines treat tires in comparison to fast qualifying and testing lines; whether all those fancy new holeshot devices will help anyone to get into the Turn 1 ahead of the pack. Only during the race do factories and riders find out whether the strategy they have chosen to pursue will actually work.
So after three days of the Qatar test, what have we learned? In these notes:
Honda, from catastrophe to optimism courtesy of old bodywork
Combined times over all three days of the Qatar test:
Maverick Viñales finishes the Qatar MotoGP test as the fastest rider, just as he did in 2019, the Monster Energy Yamaha rider finishing just ahead of Petronas Yamaha's Franco Morbidelli. Viñales and Morbidelli were the only riders to get into the 1'53s, though both Yamaha men were still three tenths off last year's pole time, and nearly half a second slower than the outright pole record.
Testing is hotting up as the sun sets on the final day of preseason testing. Franco Morbidelli is currently fastest on the A-Spec Yamaha M1, while his Petronas Yamaha teammate Fabio Quartararo is second quickest, two tenths behind on the Factory-Spec Yamaha.
Valentino Rossi makes it a Yamaha clean sweep at the top of the timesheets, the Italian veteran just a fraction faster than the Suzukis of Alex Rins and Joan Mir. Marc Marquez is sixth quickest, the Repsol Honda rider two thirds of a second slower than Morbidelli.
Testing continues until 8pm.
The final day of 2020 preseason testing for MotoGP is being used to switch focus to the race in two weeks. Fabio Quartararo took to the track early - second only a minute or two after Bradley Smith - and leads the way at the 4pm mark. Danilo Petrucci is currently second, a few thousandths slower than Quartararo, while Marc Marquez is currently third fastest.
The second day of the final preseason test of 2020 showed pretty much the same pattern as the first day: Maverick Viñales didn't finish the day on top of the timesheets, but the Monster Energy Yamaha rider clearly has the best pace, capable of running consistent low 1'54s, a tenth or two faster than anyone else. Fabio Quartararo posted the fastest single lap on Sunday, and he and Alex Rins were the only riders getting anywhere near to Viñales' pace.
As a benchmark, Quartararo posted 14 laps in the 1'54s, Viñales 13 laps, Rins 11 laps. Joan Mir was the only other consistent contender, with 6 laps in the 1'54s, and a solid race pace in the low 1'50s, high 1'54s. The Yamahas and Suzukis are looking very strong indeed at Qatar.
That was borne out by Maverick Viñales' media debrief. Once, those were glum affairs, in which Viñales would sullenly respond with nearly monosyllabic answers. His mood has improved since last year, especially since his results became more competitive in the second half of the season. This year, he is positively upbeat: he used the word 'happy' ten times in three-and-a-half minutes speaking to reporters. Two years ago, the only time Viñales used the word 'happy' was when he preceded it with the words 'we can't be'.
Fabio Quartararo has topped the second day of the Qatar MotoGP test, the Petronas Yamaha rider edging ever closer to the 1'53 bracket. Alex Rins ended the day in second place, the Suzuki Ecstar rider just under two tenths slower than Quartararo, and a few hundredths ahead of Maverick Viñales on the factory Monster Energy Yamaha.
Pecco Bagnaia has taken over at the top of the timesheets as the test heads into darkness. The Pramac Ducati rider put in a quick lap to take over at the top, pushing the two Suzukis into second and third place. Qatar is a good track for Bagnaia, the Italian youngster being quick at this test here last year.
Alex Rins leads the battle of the Suzuki Ecstar teammates, six hundredths of a second behind Bagnaia, and three hundredths ahead of Joan Mir. Maverick Viñales is currently fourth fastest, a fraction faster than Andrea Dovizioso on the factory Ducati.