MotoGP at sunset in Losail – here Rossi’s half-brother and rookie Luca Marini on the Esponsorama Ducati. You can see the impressive pictures, but you don’t hear the incredibly loud humming generators, powered by powerful diesel engines around the racetrack (© MotoGP).

Before the last MotoGP test in Losail from March 10th to 12th

The first rust on riders and bikes was shaken off last weekend. We saw how some drivers were already testing the tensile strength of their station wagons. Wait a minute – wasn’t there something? Right, we are also inevitably MotoGP streaming subscription customers, but no pictures came! You have to keep in mind that Dorna had always promised its subscription customers that it would also offer live-streaming of the tests. However, they deviated from it for the first time at the beginning of the 2nd Corona season.

Panoramic view photographed by us in Losail. Even from the top of the main grandstand, you can hardly see anything of the rest of the route, only the start-finish straight. Without a video screen opposite the grandstand, the audience would be worse off than the fans who stayed at home. However, there will be no visitors to the route this season.

A savings program for streaming customers
Not that there are no camera teams on site. There are also at least two commentators who are already there. Nevertheless, there is only a short summary every day for Dorna’s streaming customers. However, there are no live images from the first 5 days of testing!

Franco Morbidelli (Petronas Yamaha SRT) – Vice world champion and one of the top favorites for the 2021 season at the roll-out with the Losail main grandstand in the background, which should remain empty at the double race (© MotoGP).

Qatar – an absolute exotic event among the organizers
We are one of the few who report on races in Losail, for example, and have also physically been there. We became aware of this again at the WSBK kick-off in Australia in 2020, when practically everyone else only wrote about it from home. Perhaps that is precisely why it was so much made out of thin air and the truth caught up with it a little later. But back to Qatar. Anyone who has never been to this country, which seems very unfriendly to Europeans, can hardly imagine what it really is like there. On this page there is a short report with our impressions from 2019, from the last “normal” MotoGP event on site. In the first Corona year, the premier class was no longer there due to the entry restrictions. It was a sad start to a very strange season.

Our picture from the Losail International Circuit with the sea at the far back on the horizon. The only area for visitors is the main stand, while the rest of the route is taboo for spectators.

The questionable venue raises questions

Why Dorna wanted to go back here for the season opener in the 2nd Corona year, of course some viewers were right to wonder. The answer is simple: the Qataris pay by far the best and simply swim in the money from their oil wells. Although flights to Qatar are extremely expensive, unless you fly to another destination, FIM and Dorna chose the desert state for the first double race. While the temperatures in Losail during the next 2 weeks are sometimes well over 30 degrees Celsius during the day, this is really no easy feat for the drivers and teams with their mask requirement. In Jerez, it should be around 25 degrees Celsius for the opening race for the week after the next and stay dry. Not much different from before. Against this background, the choice of Dorna for the start of the season in Qatar seems downright grotesque.

The finish curve 16 was photographed by us on site, but cannot be seen from the main stand for the majority of the spectators. The passerelle to the paddock blocks the view and therefore, for most visitors, the drivers only appear from the middle of the start-finish straight. What sums the Qataris transfer to the Dorna for hosting their event will probably never come to light, but it should be a respectable sum, just as it was to those responsible for the Football World Championship.

The significance of the first two days of the test

You definitely can’t or shouldn’t jump to conclusions yet. This is also the opinion of Simon Crafar, one of at least two MotoGP commentators on site in Losail. Nevertheless, certain tendencies can already be seen after the first two days. For riders like Valentino Rossi and the majority of KTM riders, this doesn’t look very encouraging. If you compare the 2020 season with the first results of this year, particular caution applies here at Yamaha with regard to the interpretation of pure numbers. Quartararo and Viñales were already quick over a lap last year, but failed far too often over the full race distance. With Rossi and all KTM pilots except for Oliveira, however, the question of their “basic speed” certainly arises. Even the cautious rookies were all faster. But the final hour of truth comes on March 27th in FP3 and qualifying at the earliest, as well as the day after in the race. Below are the results of the first two days of testing.

How things will continue based on Dorna’s “high-risk plan”

For MotoGP, the next test will follow from March 10th to 12th and then the risky break of almost 2 weeks. If, as expected, many pilots and team members fly home during this time, things can get critical. As the flight to the Australian Open at the beginning of the year (from Qatar to Melbourne, with many players on board) showed, one infected person on the plane or elsewhere on the trip is enough and a lot gets into trouble. It is impossible to imagine if not just individual people, but entire groups would be affected and thus have to stop. Iker Lecuona can tell you a thing or two about it, because he hadn’t been on his bike since Aragon in October due to his infection. The fans can only keep their fingers crossed that nothing goes wrong with Dorna’s “high-risk plan”.

The combined calendar of MotoGP and WorldSBK with many question marks, some of which have not yet been entered. The previous collisions are shown in red, although numerous changes are to be expected anyway. Events such as Assen, Sachsenring and overseas are currently anything but secure due to the ongoing pandemic.
The main entrance of the Autodromo do Algarve near the Portuguese coastal city of Portimão photographed when we visited the WorldSBK winter test. The European season is set to begin here from April 16-18, 2021. However, the country is currently classified as a Covid-19 high-risk area by most governments.