Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT, on the right) and Luca Marini (Sky VR46 Avintia Ducati) – the third, at least half-brothers, after the Asparagus Brothers and the two Marquez on Honda. This season they are driving together or against each other for the first time (© MotoGP).

The Worst pre-season preparation ever in MotoGP

Normally there were 12 test days in the last few years before the new season started. Sepang and Qatar were originally planned and in the end there were only 4 real days for the established drivers. Because there was too much wind, and it was blowing sand onto the track, the fifth day of testing literally fell victim to the desert. But even the rookies only had four really usable days instead of the original 6. For them, the conditions at the shakedown were manageable, but miserable. The drivers and teams owe this to Dorna, who is far too often praised as so prudent. Back in autumn 2018, the Dorna had to find out with the 2nd WorldSBK race that wind and sand pose a threat in Losail. But they learned nothing from it and were only interested in the money from Qatar, as many cursed behind closed doors in the paddock.

Johann Zarco (Pramac Ducati) – straight away and not to be underestimated on the current Ducati, even if many observers name Jack Miller as the Red’s crown favorite. Pecco Bagnaia also stated that he felt ready for the first Grand Prix (© MotoGP).

The dubious season and test planning of the Dorna went completely wrong
With their original plan, testing should also have taken place in Sepang before Losail. However, by autumn 2020 at the latest, it had to be clear to every sensible person that this was completely nonsensical. The “fair weather program”, as we called it after publication, did not immediately work out. Most of the drivers and team members are now traveling home and will be back in just under 2 weeks. By plane, of course, combined with the usual risks of such trips. The weather was picture-perfect the whole time, in Andalusia and the Algarve, i.e. on the routes from Jerez and Portimão. In neither of these two places would there have been an interruption or such bad conditions as in Losail. In addition, according to a majority of the team bosses, the track in Qatar is so special that the tests there are as good as useless for the rest of the season.

Our shot from the infamous Turn 2 at Losail – it was the undoing of many drivers during the first test of the season. More drivers crashed here than anywhere else on the track on the edge of the desert.

Feedback from the Yamaha pilots

Valentino Rossi described the conditions in Losail as a disaster. Too much sun and wind, but he feels ready to go. The old master is definitely satisfied, but sees the start of the season as a very big challenge. But the “Dottore” emphasized that he felt well-prepared. The same goes for Maverick Viñales, who only complained about serious disadvantages compared to the Ducatis at top speed. But this is an old song of the Yamaha riders, which we had heard so often from Rossi. The Catalan also sees strengths, such as Sector 3. It sounded similarly positive with the Catalan’s new team-mate. Monster Energy Yamaha newcomer Fabio Quartararo also saw many advantages compared to the previous year through various improvements in the winter break. Above all, the new chassis is definitely better than the one from 2020. Last but not least, Franco Morbidelli, the Yamaha underdog. Morbido might have some disadvantages in Losail on his upgraded “A1-Spec” Yamaha, but the “Italo-Brazilian” believes in being able to ride up front.

Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha) – the lucky bag from the service. One of the most cited favorites that made it extremely easy to find fast times. Far too often he stumbled surprisingly in the last few years, and he lacked consistency (© MotoGP).

The former underdogs of Suzuki
Joan Mir, the reigning world champion, was very disappointed with the lack of a 5th day of testing. He feels ready for the first race, but various tire tests and further long runs were planned. His team-mate Alex Rins sounded similar and also missed the 5th day. With him, the choice of the new or previous year chassis may still be open. When asked about this, however, the “Inspector Gadget of MotoGP” evaded and only stated that he was ready for the first race in just under two weeks. His testimony about the free vaccination offered by Qatar is interesting because he decided against it and would like to discuss it with his doctor first. Intelligent and understandable, too, is his attitude towards not going home during the short break and staying in Doha. He wanted to avoid an unnecessary risk, he’s definitely a smart guy.

Joan Mir (Suzuki Ecstar) – as defending champion automatically one of the crown favorites. The strengths of his bike are its lack of weaknesses, the Suzuki works practically on any route, in contrast to many competing brands (© MotoGP).

Honda and the first injured person of the young season
Alex Marquez was on a time attack when he flew highsider and injured his foot. So of course it wasn’t a problem for him that he couldn’t drive on the last day. Above all, he wants to present himself as fit as possible when it starts. Pol Espargaró appeared in a good mood at the press conference and looked very relaxed. The Repsol Honda newcomer is generally very satisfied, which was mainly thanks to the fact that he was significantly faster from day 3 onwards. But he also emphasized that 4 days test was next to nothing compared to previous 12 years. But Pol emphasized that he didn’t want to complain that it was the same for everyone and certainly a lot worse for the rookies.

Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda) – its aim is very simple to paraphrase. He really wants to be on the podium and preferably on the top step. The Japanese may not make it to Qatar yet, but he should definitely get some chances again in 2021. Last year he had it in his hand in Aragon, but only until he crashed after a few corners (© MotoGP).

KTM and the fear of the first race
Miguel Oliveira made it clear that KTM is still stumbling at the moment and must try to improve on the first weekend. In any case, the expectations of him are higher than the previous results in the test. Which means that the Portuguese expects a top ten result as a minimum. Danilo Petrucci as Tech 3 newcomer stated that from his point of view he was of course far too far behind. His aim is to be able to fight for the top. At the end of the 4th day of testing, Petrux said that, together with his team, he had recognized a tendency for improvement. By omitting the 5th day, they unfortunately lost the chance to confirm this and to improve. His goal is to be the best KTM rider in the first race. The other two pilots of the orange brand are living question marks after numerous falls. Unless a small miracle happens at Binder and Lecuona, they can only be expected from the start of the European season.

Dani Pedrosa – the KTM test driver and former Repsol Honda top driver consistently refuses to start another Grand Prix. However, all attempts to persuade the team leaders failed with the little Spaniard (© MotoGP).

Aprilia with the unequal driver duo
Except for the condition of his shoulder, which is still slightly bruised, Lorenzo Savadori is so far satisfied. If you look at the times of the Italian, there is little hope for World Championship points if the starting field is not decimated too much by the finish line. At first glance, it’s the other way around with his teammate. In terms of his test performance, Aleix Espargaró is one of the favorites for the podium. If only it wasn’t for him and all observers to remember the past, the Catalan has never achieved 7th place at Aprilia in the last 3 years.

Lorenzo Savadori at Aprilia – World Cup points would be a reason to celebrate for the Italian, but at least everything has to fit together for him in Losail (© MotoGP).

The combined test times of the 2nd week in Losail

1. Jack Miller, Ducati, 1:53,183 (new absolute lap record)
2. Maverick Viñales, Yamaha, + 0,061 sec
3. Fabio Quartararo, Yamaha, + 0,080
4. Franco Morbidelli, Yamaha, + 0,140
5. Francesco Bagnaia, Ducati, + 0,261
6. Aleix Espargaró, Aprilia, + 0,457
7. Joan Mir, Suzuki, + 0,644
8. Alex Rins, Suzuki, + 0,677
9. Johann Zarco, Ducati, + 0,716
10. Pol Espargaró, Honda, + 0,716
11. Valentino Rossi, Yamaha, + 0,810
12. Takaaki Nakagami, Honda, + 1,079
13. Stefan Bradl, Honda, + 1,244 (Honda Test driver, presumably replacement Marc Marquez)
14. Jorge Martin, Ducati, + 1,300
15. Enea Bastianini, Ducati, + 1,322
16. Miguel Oliveira, KTM, + 1,343
17. Brad Binder, KTM, + 1,508
18. Alex Márquez, Honda, + 1,509
19. Danilo Petrucci, KTM, + 1,712
20. Cal Crutchlow, Yamaha, + 1,815 (Yamaha Test rider)
21. Luca Marini, Ducati, + 1,839
22. Iker Lecuona, KTM, + 2,012
23. Lorenzo Savadori, Aprilia, + 2,571

Jack Miller (Ducati) – Not only because of his new record lap in Losail one of the most cited contenders for victory and even the world championship by many observers and colleagues (© MotoGP).