No last day of testing in Losail – 2 weeks before the 1st Grand Prix
With Alex Marquez of all people, there is already the first injured driver with a broken bone. While his brother Marc was also at the doctor yesterday, it finally became clear that returning prematurely was out of the question. As a reminder: on the second weekend in Jerez 2020 it was the decision of the 6-time MotoGP world champion to risk a comeback just 4 days after the operation. This was against the advice of the medical profession at the time, which was later misrepresented by the lying press. Even Red Bull Media played an inglorious role with its in-house propaganda department. At least it is currently clear that Marquez is not allowed to ride a motorcycle for the time being. He was not even allowed to ride minibikes.
The return of Marc Marquez – hardly before Jerez
Anyone who speaks or writes of returning to Losail despite the current bike ban is a dreamer. As our readers have known since March 8, 2021, a return of the Repsol Honda rider before World Championship round 4 in Jerez is unlikely. See also on this page the report “To the Marquez Comeback”. Since Stefan Bradl will definitely be returning for the first MotoGP weekend, it is clear to everyone that the German has already been scheduled as a permanent replacement. Officially, the HRC test driver only announced that he wanted to return one way or another in two weeks. It is clear to every observer that Bradl does not take a flight to Doha, only to speak three or a maximum of four sentences into the camera as usual on the Austrian broadcaster Servus TV.
The best times hunt is not expected until evening
During the day, most drivers announced on Thursday that they would primarily do more long runs. Race simulations are primarily used to check how well the set-up of the bikes works with degrading tires. As you saw last year, Suzuki in particular was extremely strong in this regard. Conversely, this was Yamaha’s Achilles’ heel, so eliminating this deficiency is the key to victory for their riders. None of the drivers lacked speed over a fast lap, including Valentino Rossi since Thursday. All drivers of the brand with the crossed tuning forks in the logo were in the top 8 on the 4th day of the test.
Status at 2 p.m .: wind and sand prevent the start of the test
The fifth and final training session was officially opened on March 12th at 12 noon and, as usual, lasts until 7 p.m. In contrast to the first 4 days, this time not a single driver was on the track in the first half hour. Even the test drivers did not see a single one drive out of the pits and do their laps until 12:30 p.m. In between, the test drivers Michele Pirro (Ducati) and Takuya Tsuda (Suzuki) came out briefly for one lap each. Then Petrux tried two laps on the KTM and drove back to the pits. Too much wind and the sand that is swirled around next to the track prevent the test from starting for the time being.
Status at 3:30 p.m .: Only Binder tried it – but in vain
The fact that Petrucci and later also Binder wanted to try it as the only rider at all shows the desperation at KTM. With 4 falls so far, the latter, along with Nakagami and Alex Marquez, was one of the crash pilots with the most frequent flights into the gravel bed in the first four days. In the case of the oranges, there is uncertainty due to the large gap between their drivers and the best. Therefore, to lose the fifth day on which one finally wanted to try to close the gap to the top teams, amounts to a disaster for the Austrians and their drivers. Quite different to Alex Marquez, who can be happy if there is no driving at all. Chasing times in his condition with a broken metatarsal bone might even have been prevented by the racing doctors.
If only they had stayed in Europe!
Since it may not be possible to drive in Losail, here is the status of the two alternative routes in Jerez and Portimão, where the pre-season test could have been carried out just as well: picture-perfect weather in Andalusia and Portugal at around 20 degrees Celsius. In addition, hardly any wind and optimal conditions for days. Against this background, no sensible person understands why Dorna decided to test and kick off the season in Qatar. At least one could hear a plausible reason behind closed doors in the paddock. The men in charge in the desert state offered more money than any other European organizer for the next double race in MotoGP history.
4:00 p.m .: Pol Espargaró also made a pointless attempt
The Repsol Honda newcomer was only the fifth driver to try it for 3 laps, but then broke off again. With over 2 minutes as the best lap time, the Catalan received the answer that his attempt made sense on this route. After more than 4 hours, the Circuit of Losail is still as good as impassable, at least at racing speed. Today, various team members were allegedly vaccinated against Covid-19 on site, which is not well-received everywhere in the rest of the world. The preference of the privileged over other people is seen by many others as a form of ice-cold egoism. In various countries there were deaths and severe after-effects after vaccination with various vaccines. This means that there is also a risk that should not be underestimated for paddock members.
5:30 p.m.: Losail still inaccessible one and a half hours before the end!
The track on the edge of the desert is still not passable at racing speed. Teams and drivers have been waiting in vain for an improvement for hours. Since Pol Espargaró became the fifth driver, no one has tried it since the situation is hopeless. In view of the gigantic effort involved in organizing the first tests and a double race in the desert state of all places, a slap in the face for everyone involved. It is now clear to all those involved and observers that there is hardly any chance in the remaining one and a half hours. After almost inaccessible conditions prevailed at the Shakedown Test, the Dorna is stupid with the choice of Qatar. For days, however, the postcard weather conditions in Jerez and Portimão have been fantastic. At least the Arabs have now refilled the wallets of Ezpeleta and his people, but there were still no happy faces in the paddock on March 12th.
5:45 p.m. – Petrux and Pol with a new attempt
After the organizers did everything humanly possible, the track has now been cleared of sand reasonably well. With 1:58.157, KTM newcomer Petrucci has achieved the best time so far. However, the Italian is almost 5 seconds short of the best times of the last few days. While Espargaró and the Tech 3 pilot were back in the pits at 5:50 p.m., Takaaki Nakagami also tried. A little later, Fabio Quartararo also came out on the track. But nobody is expecting really useful results in the remaining last hour, at least if the test time is not extended beyond 7 p.m. After 2 laps the Yamaha rider came back to the pits and Binder went out again. But the South African also had to realize that no useful time chase is possible.