After losing the first day of the Moto2 and Moto3 test to rain, both classes got straight to work once the track opened at a dry Losail Circuit in Qatar today. Conditions were far from ideal, though, as reflected in the times. On a hot track during daylight, fastest Moto2 man Tom Luthi was 2 seconds slower than the Moto2 pole record, and Romano Fenati was a second and a half off the pole record for the Moto3 class.
The final test of the 2017 preseason for the Moto2 and Moto3 classes has had to be abandoned after the first session. Dark clouds and high winds had threatened the track during the opening Moto3 session, with only a handful of bikes taking to the track. But heavy rain started falling shortly afterwards, leaving the track soaking, and not drying out. After consultation with the teams and riders, the test was abandoned.
The Repsol Media Service issued the following press release, containing an interview with Dani Pedrosa, looking ahead to the 2017 MotoGP season:
Dani Pedrosa faces the start of the 2017 World Championship after a positive preseason, in which he has been one of the fastest riders on the grid.
Third at the last official test, Dani Pedrosa closed preseason with a good feeling and a positive progression –after also finishing high up the order in Australia and Malaysia. The Repsol Honda rider, who has achieved at least one victory in each of his 11 seasons in MotoGP, will be one of the men to beat when the season gets underway on Sunday, March 26th.
How do you come into the 2017 season?
It's early in the 2017 WorldSBK season but already plenty of people are crowning Jonathan Rea as a three time champion. To anyone thinking that with 22 races remaining that the championship has been sewn up, it would be wise not to count any chickens just yet.
Rea has most certainly been the class of the field so far in Australia and Thailand but they are two tracks that the Kawasaki rider had been heavily favored to win at. Phillip Island is a wide open race to open the year but Rea has traditionally been a force at the Australian circuit. Likewise in three years of visiting Thailand he has won five races. There's a lot that can be taken from the opening three rounds of the year but it will take a couple of European rounds before a clear picture truly emerges.
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.
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.
Miguel Oliveira is one of the brightest minds in the Grand Prix paddock. A quiet, calm presence, the Portuguese rider is widely admired throughout the paddock. His modesty and his down-to-earth attitude mean that he does not garner a great deal of attention off track, nor does he seek it.
His performance on track does, though. Oliveira came very close to winning the 2015 Moto3 championship, staging a remarkable comeback which saw him recover from a 110-point deficit with six races to go to close to within 6 points of Danny Kent at Valencia. At the Jerez Moto2 tests, Oliveira was similarly impressive, finishing regularly in the top three.
That success is in no small part due to his return to Aki Ajo's Red Bull KTM Ajo Motorsport team. At Jerez, Finnish team manager spoke glowingly of his return to the fold, and Oliveira returned the compliments. We spoke to Oliveira at some length at Jerez, covering a vast range of subjects. Oliveira spoke of the KTM Moto2 bike, and of its development. He told us why he went endurance racing last year, and what he is doing to help develop young Portuguese talent. And he talks about his other career, studying to be a dentist. That study, and his approach to it and to racing, gives a fascinating insight into a very intelligent and grounded young man.
In the run up to the 2017 MotoGP season, the Repsol Media Service issued the following press release, containing an interview with Marc Marquez. In it, he discusses his goals and expectations for the coming season:
Marc Márquez faces his fifth season on the Repsol Honda team with the aim of retaining the MotoGP World Championship.
Notes from the second WorldSBK race in Thailand:
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the final day of the final test in Qatar:
MOVISTAR YAMAHA MAKE FINAL STEPS IN LOSAIL TEST
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.
LOSAIL (QATAR), 12TH MARCH 2017
Press releases from the World Superbike organizers and teams after the races on Sunday in Thailand
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.
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.
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.
Final times at the end of the third and final day of testing:
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.