There were no changes to the times set at 10pm. Only Bradley Smith improved his time.
The riders all upped their game as the second day of the MotoGP test at Qatar neared its final hour, and riders start clocking off. Maverick Viñales remains quickest, having improved his time by half a second, and lapping under Jorge Lorenzo's pole time from last March. Movistar Yamaha teammate Valentino Rossi took a big step forward, the veteran taking second spot and closing to within three tenths of a second.
There have been few changes in the timesheets at Qatar with two hours of the second day left. Maverick Viñales leads as before, from Marc Marquez and Jorge Lorenzo. Scott Redding has entered the top ten, jumping up into seventh spot.
The big news was Ducati rolling out their aerodynamics at last. Once again, their package is different from everyone else, a large loop on either side of the nose of the bike. No feedback on how it works yet, but the riders will surely be asked about it later tonight.
Testing is underway again at Qatar, for the second day of the final preseason test. The first two hours of the test were wasted as usual, as the teams judged that there was no point in going out on a scorching hot track during daylight, and so waited for the sun to set. The only exceptions were the usual suspects: KTM's Mika Kallio and Bradley Smith, both with a lot of work to do.
Jonathan Rea claimed a dominant victory at the Chang International Circuit, the reigning world champion setting a searing pace en route to his third victory in a row. When he arrived in Parc Ferme after Race 1 the Northern Irishman's emotions were clear for all to see as he celebrated his 41st WorldSBK victory.
“I felt really good and quite calm, my guys gave me a really good bike again and that was my plan,” said Rea. “We had a really good pace but Chaz also had a very fast pace, as did Marco, so I had to ride away into T1 to make the holeshot, I wanted to get my head down in T1 and I did it. I managed to get a good gap and then built up a rhythm, I was just doing my job and it was enough to win, so I’m really happy. Last year there was a big fight between me, Tom and Chaz but the bike’s improved a lot since last year, so I’m really happy with that.
Kawasaki haven’t lost a World Superbike race since the track opened to international racing two years ago. Race one would be a hot twenty laps.
Superpole one had thirteen riders competing for two places. Federico Caricasulo and Michael Canducci were eleventh and twelfth fastest, making them favourites to qualify for Superpole two.
In the opening session, ten riders competed for two places, with Lorenzo Savadori and Stefan Bradl the two quickest Superpole one qualifiers in yesterday’s timed sessions. No Superpole tyres would be available in either session as their delivery was delayed.
PJ Jacobsen was quickest ahead of Kyle Smith and Decha Kraisart with Jules Cluzel one tenth of a second of Jacobsen's pace in fourth place. Alex Baldolini has been declared unfit after a crash in FP2 while Stefan Hill and Luke Stapleford have been withdrawn for technical reasons.
Jonathan Rea was the first rider under 1'33, beating his own lap records from two years ago. Chaz Davies was six tenths behind in this untimed session, holding off Marco Melandri and Tom Sykes.
At Sepang, after losing so much time to the weather during the shakedown test ahead of the official test, Ducati boss Gigi Dall'Igna said that there was no point using Sepang as a test circuit, if the surface was not going to dry. "Maybe we have to test somewhere else," he said.
Now MotoGP is somewhere else. At Qatar, where the rain is never a concern (well, almost never), and the teams don't have to worry about the track not drying up. But arguably, the teams get even less track time at Qatar than they do at Sepang, even when it rains. The test starts at 4pm, with the fierce Arabian sun still beating down on the track. Sunset is two hours later, and it takes a while for the track to cool to the normal temperatures which will be found at the race.
Track temperatures are fine after dark, at least for a few hours. Around 10pm, an hour before the track closes, the dew starts to form. The time at which it starts tends to vary, depending on temperature and humidity, but it is very rarely before 11pm. Invisible damp patches on the track mean riders start to crash without warning. The sensible riders wait for the unlucky riders to crash, then take that as a signal to scurry back to their garages and call it a day.
Press releases from the teams after the first day of the MotoGP test at Qatar:
Andrea Dovizioso sets the pace on the opening day of MotoGP testing in Qatar, with Jorge Lorenzo not far off in fifth at the Losail circuit
Press releases from the Moto2 and Moto3 teams at the end of the three-day IRTA test at Jerez:
Márquez and Morbidelli top the timesheet in Jerez
Team Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS dominated proceedings at the three-day IRTA Jerez test, with Álex Márquez topping the combined Moto2 timesheet and Franco Morbidelli finishing just over a tenth of a second behind in second place.
Márquez's time of 1'41.989, which he posted in today's opening Moto2 session, was more than half a second under the existing Jerez pole position record, set by Sam Lowes in 2016.
Press releases from the organizers and teams after the first day at the Chang International Circuit in Thailand:
Rea takes first Asian honours in Buriram
Tight at the top in Friday’s Free Practise
MOTUL FIM Superbike World Championship riders took to the 34 degree Thai heat for free practise two, as they battled it out for the final spots in Superpole 2, which will take place before Saturday’s opening race at the Chang International Circuit.
The term GOAT - Greatest of all Time - is bandied around rather a lot these days. I have always found it a rather unsatisfying phrase, as the radical changes in every aspect of motorcycle racing make it impossible to compare the achievements of the riders who raced in very different eras. How do you compare riders who won on 15 kilometer tree-lined street circuits to riders who spent all their time racing on the ultrasafe short circuits, replete with run off and air fence? How do you compare victory on a 500cc single cylinder Norton or a four-cylinder MV Agusta or Gilera housed in a frame that was little more than some steel tubing connecting the wheels via rudimentary suspension, to the screaming two strokes of the late nineties, or the fire-breathing 990cc four strokes barely tamed by electronics, or the ultra-finicky and precise 800cc four strokes which required a deep understanding of extracting potential for electronic management? How do you compare the ability to manage the rock-hard rubber of grooved cross-ply tires to the pursuit of 64° lean angles on fat modern radials made of exotic blends of silicon and rubber?
It is impossible, yet there are some names whose achievements are so profound that they rise above the rest, regardless of circumstances, and set themselves apart in the annals of history. If they use of the phrase GOAT is questionable, there are some riders who are obviously among the most significant of all time. They made the biggest impact.
John Surtees, who died to day aged 83, was just such a rider. Others, with a greater grasp of racing history, can do his legacy much greater justice than I can - if you read just one obituary of Surtees, then make it this dual profile of the man on Motor Sport Magazine, by Mat Oxley and top F1 journalist Mark Hughes.