MotoGP: Aleix Espargaro Leads Day One Of Testing In Qatar

MotoGP: Aleix Espargaro Leads Day One Of Testing In Qatar

© 2021, Roadracing World Publishing, Inc. By David Swarts.

Aprilia Gresini Racing rider Aleix Espargaro was the quickest rider during Day One of MotoGP pre-season testing Saturday at Losail International Circuit, in Qatar. Riding his updated Aprilia RS-GP, Espargaro turned a lap time of 1:54.687.

The all-time MotoGP lap record for Losail is 1:53.380, which was set by Marc Marquez in 2019.

MotoGP did not race at Losail in 2020.

 

Official lap times from Day One of the MotoGP pre-season test March 6 at Losail International Circuit.
Official lap times from Day One of the MotoGP pre-season test March 6 at Losail International Circuit.

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Dorna:

Aleix Espargaro tops Day 1, every factory in the top seven

The full grid roars back into action in the desert, with Aprilia leading the way as 2021 gets in gear

Saturday, 06 March 2021

After the first day of action for the full grid at the Official MotoGP™ Qatar Test, it’s safe to say 2021 has started pretty well for Aleix Espargaro and Aprilia Racing Team Gresini as they finish top of the timesheets. The Spaniard set a 1:54.687 to beat Stefan Bradl (Honda Test Team) by 0.256s, with reigning World Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) completing the top three as the new MotoGP™ season officially got underway.

 

Valentino Rossi (46). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Valentino Rossi (46). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

The wind played a key role on Saturday after also proving bothersome at the Shakedown Test, but all 29 riders on the ground in Doha enjoyed some valuable track time despite another blustery day at Losail International Circuit. And this time, having sat out the Shakedown, that included Aleix Espargaro on his near brand-new RS-GP he ended the day just a couple of tenths shy of Aprilia’s best time at 2020’s Qatar Test and put in 57 laps. Updates have been made to the engine, chassis and exhaust and there’s a new carbon swingarm at the Noale factory, as well as two new aero designs that the riders are putting through their paces. Aprilia also have a holeshot device on the front and rear – along with Honda and Ducati. Lorenzo Savadori, on the other side of the garage, completed 42 laps, ending with 1:56.511 as a best time.

 

Pol Espargaro (44). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Pol Espargaro (44). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Meanwhile, it was a huge day over at the Repsol Honda Team as Pol Espargaro made his eagerly awaited debut for the Japanese giants. A hefty 68 laps were rattled off by the Spaniard on his HRC debut as he, Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) all headed out on 2020 Hondas, with each rider’s two bikes having different exhausts. Alex Marquez’ day didn’t get off to the best of starts after destroying his RC213V in a final corner crash, but the double World Champion was soon back out to spin some more laps. Marquez was the second quickest Honda on Day 1, behind the aforementioned Bradl, and finished P10 just ahead of Nakagami.

 

Franco Morbidelli (21). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Franco Morbidelli (21). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Bradl was again donning the famous Repsol livery on track and for a lot of opening day, the German was at the summit of the timesheets. He has three chassis to try in Qatar: the ‘standard’ 2020 chassis, the chassis he ended the 2020 campaign on which has carbon bonded to the main beam, as well as an entirely new chassis that we saw the number 6 testing in Jerez a few weeks ago. Bradl was very pleased with his and the team’s progress so far, looking for more of the same over the remaining four days.

 

Joan Mir (36). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Joan Mir (36). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Over at World Champions Team Suzuki Ecstar, who officially unveiled their 2021 livery ahead of the test, Joan Mir and Alex Rins were the last riders to head out on track. Similar to most teams, we didn’t see many changes to the bike, but we also didn’t see much change to their impressive pace. Third for Mir is a solid start to his title defence, with Rins also inside the top 10 in P8. The duo recorded a combined 91 laps, with test rider Sylvain Guintoli adding another 50 and Takuya Tsuda another 26. Tsuda was the first rider out on track for the Hamamatsu factory.

Further down pitlane, both Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia suited up and headed out in Ducati Lenovo Team red for the first time to begin a new era for both riders and team. Miller was fourth fastest at the end of the day, completing 54 laps in total and glowing that it felt “unreal” to be back. Both riders were on 2020 Ducatis as they got back into the swing of things but did try the new aero, with Miller saying he couldn’t find any faults. Bagnaia finished P13 but was only 0.8s off the top despite a crash at Turn 3.

Ducati test rider Michele Pirro was also circulating with new aero on the front of his GP21; a third extra aero vane was seen fitted lower down on the fairing. In addition, Ducati have a ‘salad box’ that looks slightly different to last year’s. Simon Crafar also reported that the Bologna factory are experimenting with a holeshot device at the front of the bike, along with Aprilia and Honda, so look out for that over the coming days…

Johann Zarco, meanwhile, was in Pramac Racing colours for the first time and from the outside, it looked like the Frenchman enjoyed his first day in his new office. The number 5 was atop the standings at stages in the afternoon, eventually ending Saturday sixth overall with less than half a second splitting him from Aleix Espargaro at the top. Zarco’s teammate Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) was back on track for his second day as a MotoGP™ rider, albeit with a sore leg after his Turn 3 crash during the Shakedown Test. Despite this though, Martin was the fastest rookie in P18 after setting a 1:56.147 – just a couple of tenths slower than Pol Espargaro ahead of him.

The other two Moto2™ graduate rookies also got plenty more valuable laps under their belts. Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama Racing) was less than a tenth away from Martin in P20 while Luca Marini (Sky VR46 Avintia) finished P24 on the times. It’s a huge learning curve for all three riders in Qatar and there’s no doubt even more improvements will be coming over the next few days.

Over at Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira were both sitting near the summit in the early stages of the test. By the end of the day, Oliveira was the fastest RC16 rider on track, the Portuguese rider setting a 1:55.084 to finish fifth overall on his first day as a factory rider. Binder fell at Turn 2 but was perfectly ok to head out, ending the day in P12 after 52 laps.

New KTM rider on the block Danilo Petrucci struck a bright figure out on track alongside teammate Iker Lecuona as the Tech3 KTM Factory Racing pairing lapped on their new orange RC16s too. Like the factory riders, there weren’t too many differences with the bikes they were riding compared to the 2020 model, and Lecuona and Petrucci finished P22 and P23 respectively.

Test rider Dani Pedrosa, however, was trying out some innovations for KTM. As Simon Crafar reported from pitlane, Pedrosa was riding an RC16 kitted out with a new chassis, a whole new tail section and a new exhaust inside that tail unit. The famous number 26 was 26th on the timesheets and completed 48 laps, obviously not focusing on outright speed.

Over in the Yamaha ranks, there was a headline stealer as Valentino Rossi headed out on a familiar bike but in unfamiliar colours. The new Petronas Yamaha SRT rider began his new adventure with the Malaysian team and was seen trying two different tank covers, likely for ergonomics, as he did more than 50 laps. It was teammate Franco Morbidelli who was the quickest YZR-M1 rider on Day 1, however, as the Italian finished P7 and 0.487s adrift. Rossi was P14.

It was a big day for Fabio Quartararo too, who officially began life as a factory MotoGP™ rider at Losail International Circuit. The Frenchman was the busiest rider out there on Saturday after completing 69 laps on his new Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP machine, and was just over a second off the pace in P15 – one place behind Rossi. Maverick Viñales was the fastest Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP man on Day 1 though, notching up 51 laps and taking P9.

There doesn’t seem to be too much different to what we saw last season on the Yamahas so far, but there was plenty of data gathering going on. Test riders Cal Crutchlow, Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Kohta Nozane were once more sharing bikes, so it’s very hard to tell who set the fastest times on each of the bikes labelled ‘Yamaha Test 1’, ‘Yamaha Test 2’ and ‘Yamaha Test 3’ on the timing screens, but the Iwata marque have a wealth of information at their fingertips.

The Qatar Test returns on Sunday for Day 2, so keep up to date with all the latest happenings across MotoGP™ social media and on motogp.com!

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Tech3 KTM Factory Racing:

Tech3 KTM Factory Racing kicks off test action in Qatar

Following a long winter break the Losail International Circuit eventually saw the first track activity in 2021 today. In windy conditions both, Iker Lecuona and Danilo Petrucci have been amongst the first riders at the circuit on the first of two official test days this week, starting to shake off some winter rust to get up to speed step by step.

Thereby, Lecuona, who will compete his second year aboard the KTM RC16, did a total of 55 laps throughout Saturday, making his comeback after he was forced to sit out the final three rounds of 2020. At the same time, Petrucci was riding the orange machine for the very first time, starting to get used to his new environment and concluding his debut day with KTM just 0.069 seconds behind his teammate, after doing 60 laps at the popular venue in Qatar.

 

Iker Lecuona (29). Photo courtesy Tech3 KTM Factory Racing.
Iker Lecuona. Photo courtesy Tech3 KTM Factory Racing.

 

Iker Lecuona
 

Position: 22nd

Time: 1:56.920

Laps: 55

“I’m happy, because I was finally jumping back on the bike today after a long time. It felt a bit strange in the beginning, because I was training a lot during the winter, but the MotoGP machine is obviously completely different to what I am practicing with at home. Physically it’s very demanding, but I’m satisfied. I was working a lot on myself. Today we didn’t change a lot on the base setting, apart from the final runs, where we were working on the bike a little bit. Overall, I’m glad about today. We still have four days to test here, so we keep calm and continue working.”

 

Danilo Petrucci (9). Photo courtesy Tech3 KTM Factory Racing.
Danilo Petrucci (9). Photo courtesy Tech3 KTM Factory Racing.

 

Danilo Petrucci
 

Position: 23rd

Time: 1:56.989

Laps: 60

“I’m really happy to have complete this first day. It was important. Although of course the main thing is to get used to the bike and find a good base setup. We tried a lot of things, some worked, some didn’t. For KTM and for the team it’s the first time having a rider with my size, so we have to find a decent balance. In general, I like the RC16 a lot! The engine is very smooth and I enjoyed riding. We know it’s a long process, but I think we are already on the right path. It’s just day one. Fortunately, we have another four days and some ideas, so I’m already looking forward to tomorrow.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Monster Energy Yamaha:

MONSTER ENERGY YAMAHA MOTOGP ARE BACK IN ACTION

Losail (Qatar), 6th March 2021

OFFICIAL MOTOGP TEST

After months of eager anticipation, the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team got in their first kilometres after the winter break. Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo aim to use the Qatar MotoGP Official Test to get a first impression of the 2021 YZR-M1. They completed the first day in 9th and 15th place respectively.

9th MAVERICK VIÑALES 1’55.259 / 51 LAPS

15th FABIO QUARTARARO 1’55.707 / 69 LAPS

Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP Team‘s Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo were thrilled to step aboard their YZR-M1s on the first official MotoGP testing day of 2021. Despite the windy conditions at the Losail International Circuit, the riders got straight to work. They ended Day 1 in 9th and 15th place respectively.

Viñales’ plan for Qatar Test Day 1 was to fully focus on his rhythm. Getting a first feel for the 2021 YZR-M1, the Spaniard ran a total of 51 laps. His 1‘55.259s fastest time, set on lap 33, earned him ninth place in the overall results, 0.572s from first.

Quartararo had been counting the days to his Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP debut. He had a positive first day in his new office. He rode 69 laps over the course of the seven-hour testing session, and he set a best lap of 1‘55.707s on lap 35, to take 15th place, 1.020s from the top.

Tomorrow the riders will be back at the Losail track for further testing, from 14:00 – 21:00 (GMT+3).

MASSIMO MEREGALLI

TEAM DIRECTOR

After months of no riding, the team is thrilled to be back in action. Especially, Maverick and Fabio are both happy to be on the bike again. However, we immediately had to put our heads down and get to work. Today was our first testing opportunity of the 2021 season, and Yamaha has come prepared: we have a lot of new items to try in this Qatar Test. We also have three test riders on track, besides Maverick and Fabio, to help us collect as much data as possible as we prepare for the start of the 2021 MotoGP season in three weeks‘ time.

 

Maverick Vinales (12). Photo courtesy Monster Energy Yamaha.
Maverick Vinales (12). Photo courtesy Monster Energy Yamaha.

 

MAVERICK VIÑALES

It’s good to be back on track and riding the bike. Today I focused on getting into the rhythm, we didn’t try anything specific. So far, the feeling is positive, but it’s still very early in the testing process. We will keep working. In the upcoming days we will be riding many more laps to try to be faster.

 

Fabio Quartararo (20). Photo courtesy Monster Energy Yamaha.
Fabio Quartararo (20). Photo courtesy Monster Energy Yamaha.

 

FABIO QUARTARARO

It was a positive day. Honestly, I needed a bit of time to get used to riding a MotoGP bike after the long winter break. Still, I was happy to be riding again. I can’t wait for tomorrow, because it will keep getting better and better. I’m looking forward to getting in more laps, getting faster, and also doing a time attack tomorrow – that’s the main plan.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Castrol:

LCR HONDA CASTROL BACK ON TRACK WITH START OF 2021 MOTOGP TESTING

6 March 2021 | Qatar Test

The excitement for the start of the 2021 MotoGP World Championship was ramped up in Qatar on Saturday with the first day of action for a full field of riders and bikes at the Official Test. After a long winter of hope and anticipation, the LCR Honda CASTROL squad were finally able to show off their brand-new look with their incoming rider – the two-time world champion Álex Márquez.

The popular Spaniard joins the LCR Honda CASTROL team after an impressive rookie campaign on the factory Honda, and got his first taste of this year’s version of the RC213V under the Losail International Circuit floodlights, completing a total of 48 laps with a best time of 1’55.278.

The on-track action began in the afternoon sun, before temperatures dropped significantly as evening fell. Whilst the track was in much better conditions than for a shakedown test on Friday, there was still a strong wind affecting handling around the circuit. This led to several riders being moved off the racing line and sliding out, including Márquez. Thankfully, the early crash was soon put behind the team as they got through some valuable work with new parts, and sealed the tenth fastest lap of the evening.

 

Alex Marquez (73). Photo courtesy LCR Honda.
Alex Marquez (73). Photo courtesy LCR Honda.

 

Alex Marquez – 10th

(1’55.278)

“In the end it was quite a good first day, after we started out not so well with a crash on the first real exit out on track. It was not the way we wanted to start, but then we began to get the feeling back and we worked in a really good way. We even tried a few new things on this first day, so, it was positive.

We have five days here, four after today, but we need to be patient and not wear ourselves out physically or mentally. We need to make only the laps that we need, test all the new things, and try to be clear with the work that we do. We need to get good information, and the team will start to work well together, so let’s see how tomorrow goes.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Pramac Racing:

Qatar Test – Amazing first day for Johann Zarco, Martín keeps improving

 

Johann Zarco (5). Photo courtesy Pramac Racing.
Johann Zarco (5). Photo courtesy Pramac Racing.

 

Second day of activity at  Losail Circuit that for the first time sees Johann Zarco with Pramac Racing Team colours. A more than positive day that sees both riders satisfied with the work done both on the track and inside the box, unfortunately the weather conditions today were not kind due to the strong wind that has been blowing since yesterday. Johann Zarco took advantage of his first day on the track to gain confidence with the bike, maintaining a good pace throughout the day while using the tires for many laps, trying different set up during the course of activities. An excellent performance of the French rider whom today was one of the protagonists remaining always in the firsts positions. Johann finished with his best time of 1’55. 110 for a total of 54 laps. Jorge Martín continued the activities from where he left them yesterday continues his apprenticeship, together with the team he makes an experience on electronics and on different settings to better adapt his riding style to the bike.

Jorge Martín

I’m satisfied with today, I’ve improved by more than two seconds and I feel that I have more and more feeling with the bike. Today we focused on the electronics and we tried different settings. Tomorrow we hope to do even better.

Johann Zarco

A very positive day, I’m really happy, as the first day I could not hope better. With the bike I had a great feeling from the beginning and with the team we were able to work well from the beginning. We still have to work on some things but I feel that we are going in the right direction.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by LCR Honda Idemitsu:

NAKAGAMI GETS FIRST TASTE OF FACTORY HONDA AS MOTOGP TESTING BEGINS

6 March 2021 | Qatar Test

The anticipation for the start of the 2021 MotoGP World Championship was raised another level at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar on Saturday, with the first day of Official MotoGP Tests completed. It represented the first opportunity for the LCR Honda IDEMITSU team to see Takaaki Nakagami out on track on his factory RC213V.

Following a sensational 2020 campaign where the Japanese star regularly demonstrated he had the potential to win races, Nakagami finally got his first go on the latest HRC machine at the desert venue, completing a total of 58 laps with a best time of 1’55.467.

The on-track action began in bright sunshine at 2pm local time, before temperatures dropped significantly as night fell at 6pm, with a further three hours under the lights. The track was much improved after Friday’s shakedown test, however there was still a strong wind affecting handling around the circuit. As the evening went on, the breeze softened, allowing Nakagami to set the 11th fastest time of the evening, as he got to grips with the characteristics of his 2021 machine.

 

Takaaki Nakagami (30). Photo courtesy LCR Honda.
Takaaki Nakagami (30). Photo courtesy LCR Honda.

 

Takaaki Nakagami – 11th

(1’55.467)

“First of all, I’m really happy to be back on the MotoGP bike of course. It was tricky conditions today with strong winds, but after six or seven o’clock the wind got better and the conditions were ok. There is some good rubber down, so the grip level was good.

Of course, for me it is a completely new bike and we have only had our first day on it. We still have a lot of work to do – I need to understand the new machine and especially the different engine character. We will keep working hard, but I am happy with today’s result. The pace was good, and I am really looking forward to day two.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Ducati Lenovo Team:

Miller and Bagnaia make their debut on the Ducati Lenovo Team Desmosedici GP bikes on the first day of testing in Qatar

Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia finally took to the track at Losail International Circuit in Doha, Qatar, for the first day of official testing of the 2021 MotoGP campaign. During today’s session, both Ducati Lenovo Team’s riders made their long-awaited debut on the factory team’s Desmosedici GP machines, immediately receiving positive feedback and showing that they are already at ease within their new team.

Miller finished with the fourth-fastest time in 1:55.022, just 355 thousandths behind leader Aleix Espargaro. The Australian rider completed a total of 54 laps, closing as the top Ducati rider on track.

It has been a positive day also for Pecco Bagnaia, despite a small crash at Turn 2 towards the end of the day. The Piedmontese rider, who was among the first riders on track this afternoon, completed a total of 50 laps, stopping the clock at 1:55.572, 513 thousandths of a second behind his teammate.

After taking part in yesterday’s Shakedown Test, Michele Pirro (Ducati MotoGP Test Team rider) was also present today to continue developing the Desmosedici GP 21 machine.

 

Jack Miller (43). Photo courtesy Dorna.
Jack Miller (43). Photo courtesy Dorna.

 

Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team, #43) – 1:55.022 (4th – 54 laps)

“It was a positive first day of testing. I haven’t ridden the Desmosedici in a long time, but I felt comfortable right away. Today’s goals were to find back the feeling with the bike and to adapt to my new team. The strong wind partially disturbed our activity, making it difficult to try a time attack, but I tested a new fairing and am happy with it. Now we just have to continue working in this direction also in the coming days”.

 

Francesco Bagnaia (63). Photo courtesy Ducati.
Francesco Bagnaia. Photo courtesy Ducati.

 

Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team, #63) – 1:55.572 (13th – 50 laps)

“It was a tough first day, mainly dedicated to finding the feeling with the bike after the long winter break. Today’s conditions weren’t perfect due to the strong wind, but despite a small crash at Turn 2 towards the end of the day, we managed to get some interesting runs in. I did a few laps with the new fairing, and the feeling was positive. Starting tomorrow, we’ll work more concretely on the bike’s set-up”.

Tomorrow, the Ducati Lenovo Team riders will have another seven hours of free practices at Losail Circuit before returning for a second test at the same track next week, from 10th-12th March.

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Team Suzuki Press Office:

NEW LOOK GSX-RR PUT THROUGH ITS PACES ON DAY 1 IN QATAR

Joan Mir: 3rd – 1’54.980 (+ 0.293)

Alex Rins: 8th – 1’55.198 (+ 0.511)

Sylvain Guintoli: 25th – 1’57.460 (+ 2.773)

Team Suzuki Ecstar’s riders enjoyed the launch of their 2021 machines at Losail Circuit in Qatar before taking to the circuit in the afternoon for the first test day of the season.

This opening day proved useful as they worked to fine-tune their GSX-RRs and settings, completing many laps and collecting useful data. After settling into a rhythm with their bikes, both riders worked in the areas of chassis, suspension and electronics.

Joan Mir completed a total of 45 laps, with a best time of 1’54.980 and 3rd position. He reported feeling comfortable from the start of the session, which allowed him to work on small adjustments in setup to build on the overall base package ahead of tomorrow’s second day of testing.

Alex Rins similarly felt comfortable on his bike despite difficult track conditions for everybody with high winds. He worked towards overall setup as well as some electronics settings. Rins completed 46 laps, closing the session in 8th place, just half a second from the top.

The team’s test riders, Sylvain Guintoli and Takuya Tsuda were able to ride their bikes one day earlier, on Friday, for the ‘shakedown’ day which was allocated for test riders and rookies. They also gave positive feedback regarding the direction of the GSX-RR. Guintoli spent yesterday trying some new specs for the 2022 bike, before switching to the 2021 bike to work on chassis, suspension, and electronics.

Ken Kawauchi – Technical Manager:

“Our schedule today was mainly for the riders to re-establish their feeling, and we also checked many small items. Both riders found their rhythm quickly, and I’m very happy about that. Tomorrow we’ll try a few more things such as comparing engine specifications and working on chassis. Anyway, today has been a good opening day and I’m pleased with the progress.”

 

Joan Mir (36). Photo courtesy Team Suzuki Press Office.
Joan Mir (36). Photo courtesy Team Suzuki Press Office.

 

Joan Mir:

“My feeling jumping back on the bike was good, and I’m happy because it’s important to be competitive as early as possible. I was able to work on the bike and the settings because I already felt pretty comfortable. We tried some new things and we completed our goal for today. Getting on the bike and riding at full speed is the best way to get back into it, the bike is an animal and it’s hard when you haven’t ridden for a few months because your body is not used to it, but it feels great! I’m looking forward to tomorrow and continuing our work.”

 

Alex Rins (42). Photo courtesy Team Suzuki Press Office.
Alex Rins (42). Photo courtesy Team Suzuki Press Office.

 

Alex Rins:

“Today went well! I’m so happy to be back riding my bike! We did some work on the electronics side and general setup. I was able to complete a lot of laps and gain a lot of information. Despite the wind, I was feeling better and better with every lap. I did a best time of 1’55.198, which feels OK for the first day. So I go into tomorrow ready for more and pleased with the progress so far!”

Sylvain Guintoli:

“Conditions were not perfect because it was quite windy out there, but we were able to complete our planned program anyway. We worked on the chassis and swingarm and also some other areas. It was really interesting and I’m pleased with the work we’ve done. We already have a good base, so we’re just looking to improve by small margins here and there. I hope the conditions are better tomorrow, I think it will be a little easier because more bikes have been on track now.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by Repsol Honda:

Pol Espargaro begins his Repsol Honda Team journey

Action returns as MotoGP testing gets underway in Qatar, Pol Espargaro enjoying his first contact with the Repsol Honda and Stefan Bradl making constant improvements.

Heavy winds swept across the Losail International Circuit as the first day of official testing began ahead of the 2021 MotoGP World Championship season. While much of the field waited for conditions to settle, the Repsol Honda Team were eager to make the most of the track time available.

Pol Espargaro was the first full-time rider out on track, eager to sample the Honda RC213V for the first time. Completing his instillation lap, Espargaro returned to the box for his first debrief and setup adjustments. Short runs would be the order for much of the day as the 2013 Moto2 World Champion adapted to life in Repsol Honda Team colours. Each lap saw Espargaro improve his time, settling on a best time of 1’55.878 after 68 laps aboard the Honda.

Times were not the focus of the day, Espargaro and his team working on getting comfortable on the bike and improving his feeling on the Honda RC213V.

Having had a successful day of running during the Shakedown the previous day, Stefan Bradl was back on track. The experienced German was fast from the off, leading the start of testing and retaining a position in the top three for the majority of running. Ending the evening second fastest, Bradl’s 1’54.943 was 0.256s shy of the top time.

 

Pol Espargaro (44). Photo courtesy Repsol Honda.
Pol Espargaro (44). Photo courtesy Repsol Honda.

 

Pol Espargaro

17TH  1’55.878

“I feel good, there was a lot of work and there will be a lot of work to feel the limits of the bike, but it was great to finally ride the Honda. Today was about getting comfortable on the bike and beginning to understand everything, I am happy with the laps we did. We kept it very simple today, but we made good progress. Already I am excited to get back out there tomorrow and keep working but for now it’s time to go back to the hotel and start to look at the data to see where we can go better tomorrow. Front end feeling is what I need to understand the most at the moment, I can see this compared to Stefan but this will come with more laps. This is the same anytime you get on a new bike.”

 

Stefan Bradl (6). Photo courtesy Repsol Honda.
Stefan Bradl (6). Photo courtesy Repsol Honda.

 

Stefan Bradl

SECOND  1’54.943

“I am happy overall because we have worked very well, been very productive and I feel comfortable on the bike. We kept working through our test plan and today our attention shifted more to parts and working on the chassis side. We’ve been finding good pace again and everything has worked very well so far, the goal is to continue in this direction. I’m happy to be riding and feeling like this on the bike. It’s the first test day for the other riders so I probably had some advantage from riding yesterday, we need to stay calm as everything is going to get closer as lap times improve. Happy for now, but still lots of work to do.”

 

 

 

More, from a press release issued by PETRONAS Yamaha SRT:

Franco Morbidelli and Valentino Rossi find their rhythm in first day of Qatar Test

Morbidelli ends opening day of Qatar Test seventh; Rossi 14th on PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team debut

A dusty and windy Losail International Circuit greeted the PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team riders as the first test of 2021 got underway today in Qatar. Franco Morbidelli ended the day with the seventh fastest time whilst Valentino Rossi’s first day on track with the team saw him go 14th fastest.

Morbidelli was the first rider from the Malaysian squad to take to the track, after waiting just over 90 minutes for the conditions to improve, and immediately placed himself inside the top-ten. The Italian, who spent his 61 laps reacquainting himself with his bike and accumulating kilometres on fresh engines, posted a fastest time of 1min 55.174secs, just 0.487secs shy of the quickest rider around Losail International Circuit.

Team-mate Rossi, who took to the track aboard his new PETRONAS Yamaha SRT liveried YZR-M1 for the first time, also joined Morbidelli in the top-ten for the majority of the day’s seven hours. After completing 54 laps, testing a new chassis in a few of them, Rossi ended the day with a fastest time of 1min 55.584secs – 0.897secs shy of the quickest rider.

Track action will resume at 2pm local time (7pm MYT) tomorrow for Morbidelli and Rossi, with the second day of Qatar test coming to a close at 9pm local time (2am MYT).

Franco Morbidelli

7th (1:55.174)

It’s been a nice day and it’s good to be back at work. I felt good, especially late in the night when I really started to feel like myself back on the bike, I had again the feelings that I know from this bike and I think we are already on a good level. Of course there are things to improve, but we are not too far from the top guys so I’m happy with that. I’m also happy that this bike is the same but different, it feels the same as last year but we are faster on the straight. Tomorrow we have some electronic upgrades to test, so let’s try to improve again. It has been a great first day at the office!

Valentino Rossi

14th (1:55.584)

It was a little strange to begin with because the winter break was longer than normal, so at the start the MotoGP bike is always really impressive and is so fast after three months of not riding it! It was the start of a new adventure today and I was very excited for my first day with PETRONAS Yamaha SRT. It was a good day, my pace was quite good all day and I enjoyed it a lot; at the end of the day my result was not fantastic but we worked well and the atmosphere in the team is really good. Today we basically worked on the standard bike and we haven’t tried a lot of new things, only a very few laps with the new chassis, that we want to keep testing in the following days. We still have in front of us a long testing plan, to help us improve.

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