Losail, Qatar

Qatar MotoGP Test Saturday Round Up: A Fast Yamaha, Ducati's Holeshot Squatter, And Aprilia Aggro

If there is one thing that we learned from the Sepang test, it is that the field is even closer this year. In Malaysia, 18 riders finished within a second of one another. That pattern has continued at Qatar, Pol Espargaro in fourteenth just 0.987 second behind the fastest man, Alex Rins. As comparison, the KTM rider was the last rider within a second of the fastest man after the first day of this test in 2019, but then, there were just eight riders ahead of him, rather than thirteen. And there was a gap of nearly four tenths of a second between the riders in second and third last year. Not so in 2020.

But if the single lap times were close, the race pace was a lot less so. Maverick Viñales towered over the rest in terms of consistent pace, with only the Suzukis of Alex Rins and Joan Mir getting anywhere near the pace of the Monster Energy Yamaha rider. Viñales laid down a real benchmark, with ten of his 47 laps in the 1'54s, which is under the race lap record. That included a run of ten laps, seven of which were 1'54s, five of which were consecutive. That is a rather terrifying race pace for the Spaniard to lay down, just two weeks ahead of the first race.

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Qatar MotoGP Test Saturday Final Times: Rins Leads Suzuki Clean Sweep

Alex Rins has topped the timesheets at the end of the first day of the MotoGP test at Qatar, the Suzuki Ecstar rider getting half a second under the race lap record, and within two tenths of the best time set at the test here last year. But Rins was over a tenth of a second quicker than his fastest lap of the 2019 test, showing solid improvement.

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Qatar MotoGP Test Saturday 6pm Times: Viñales Fastest As Pace Hots Up

Maverick Viñales is still top of the timesheets at Qatar, but with the sun now set and testing now taking place at the time the race is scheduled, competition is hotting up and riders are starting to swap places.

Times at 6pm (Corrected):

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Qatar MotoGP Test Preview: The Last Chance To Get Things Right

From the humid heat of Malaysia to the cool desert night air, MotoGP enters the final test before the season kicks off in two weeks. The Qatar MotoGP test is something of an oddity, and hard to quantify. It comes too late to make any major changes to the bike, yet plays a crucial role in exposing vital weaknesses in the factories' MotoGP machines. It is a place where you won't see any major updates being rolled out, but it is also the test where factories are looking to catch each other out. With just two weeks to go to the start of the season, it is too late for anyone to understand and copy any brilliant new ideas before the start of the season.

The main purpose of the Qatar test is to verify engine configurations. All six factories rolled out new engines, updated over the winter break, at Sepang, but the Malaysian circuit is deceptive. Hot tropical air, a big, wide track with very few tight, low-gear corners means that it is hard to tell whether additional power has pushed the engine over the fine line between aggressive and uncontrollable.

Getting it right

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Gordon Ritchie WorldSBK Blog: Calendar Grills

As one more championship in WorldSBK has now run its enormously unexpected final course, the off-season gives us time for both reflection and plotting a path forward.

OK, that’s the reflection over, what about 2020 and beyond?

The WorldSBK series does not quite restart its new season preparations just two days after the old season, as it does in MotoGP. In those terms it took a bit over two weeks to get WorldSBK bedded in again, but most teams are already getting into 2020 mode after two days of tests at Motorland Aragon.

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2020 WorldSBK Calendar - 13 Rounds, Qatar Moved, Oschersleben Returns

The FIM has announced the 2020 WorldSBK Calendar today. The series will hold 13 rounds in 10 different countries, starting at the end of February in Phillip Island, and ending on 11th October in Argentina.

The calendar sees a certain amount of reshuffling. The Qatar round of WorldSBK has been moved from the final race of the year to be second, and takes place a week after the opening MotoGP round at the Losail circuit. Qatar takes the place of the disappearing Thai round at Buriram, which has dropped WorldSBK in favor of MotoGP.

Oschersleben returns to the calendar, bringing WorldSBK back to Germany, with that race being held at the end of July. And Barcelona is to host both MotoGP and WorldSBK, the Superbike round to be held from 18th-20th September next year.

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