Honda end Shakedown on top, Bastianini fastest rookie
Bradl rules a windy day in the desert and the Moto2™ graduates get their first taste of the premier class as MotoGP™ shakes down in Doha
Friday, 05 March 2021
MotoGP™ is BACK! The Shakedown Test officially got 2021 underway at Losail International Circuit in Qatar on Friday, meaning it’s rookies and test riders only until Saturday welcomes the rest of the grid to the party. At the Shakedown, it was HRC test rider Stefan Bradl who finished finished top of the pile, the German pulling 1.2 seconds clear at the top despite the pace staying a fair margin away from “normal” Qatar speed. His 1:55.614 is a couple of seconds down on the all-time lap record and he rode around with a carbon inserted chassis, the same one he finished the season so brilliantly on in 2020.
A big reason for the laptimes was the windy conditions, making it difficult for the riders to get a decent amount of running in and even causing their own Red Flag involving no riders. For three rookies – Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama), Luca Marini (Sky VR46 Avintia) and Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) – it was still first ever contact with their MotoGP™ machinery, however, and there was a buzzword for all: “FAST.” Bastianini was the quickest of the three, fourth overall after 35 laps. At this stage though, it’s all about gaining experience and the first one out was Luca Marini (Sky VR46 Avintia), the Italian eventually finishing P8 after 33 laps. Martin, meanwhile, endured his first MotoGP™ crash, but the Spaniard was unhurt when he went down on the exit of Turn 3 after hitting a bump. Martin finished his maiden day as a premier class rider with a 1:58.875 in P10 after 31 laps.
Back at the top between Bradl and Bastianini, two Yamaha test bikes were inside the top three on the timesheets, and their testing duty was split between three riders: multiple Grand Prix winner Cal Crutchlow as he returns to the fold in a testing capacity, alongside Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Kohta Nozane. The bikes were numbered and counted on the timesheets, not the riders – but Crutchlow seemed to be back on it! The third machine was registered in P6 and overall, the Iwata marque did more than 100 laps.
Ducati Lenovo Team test rider Michele Pirro ended the day 0.005s behind Bastianini in fifth place, and the Italian was seen riding Jack Miller, Francesco Bagnaia and Johann Zarco’s (Pramac Racing) machines during the Shakedown Test. Ducati debuted new wings, and we’re surely going to be seeing more innovations from the Bologna factory throughout the Qatar Test when all the riders are out on track. It’s become almost a tradition.
Meanwhile at Aprilia Racing Team Gresini, Lorenzo Savadori is, like the Moto2™ graduates, also gearing up for his first full season as a premier class rider and he was out on Aprilia’s pretty much all-new RS-GP. As Simon Crafar reported from on the ground in Qatar, the 2021 machine is basically a whole new package. It features a new engine that gives improved power across its range, a new seat unit, a new top and bottom exhaust along with a new tail unit, new front aero and in addition, Aprilia have a holeshot device attached to the rear linkage. Savadori wasn’t joined on track by teammate Aleix Espargaro, the Spaniard choosing to sit out Friday’s running, but the rookie Italian headed out on the number 41 bike at stages. He was seventh after posting a 1:58.273.
Sylvain Guintoli and Takuya Tsuda were lapping on Team Suzuki Ecstar’s GSX-RRs, the duo finished P9 and P12 respectively. Guintoli said that Suzuki have a major programme ahead with testing new parts and the Frenchman was over the moon to be back on the bike after five months off. The reigning team World Champions will welcome reigning riders’ Champion Joan Mir and teammate Alex Rins for the rest of the track action to join in the workload. Will they remain the team to beat in 2021?
At Red Bull KTM Factory Racing, MotoGP™ Legend Dani Pedrosa was putting in the laps, the Spaniard finishing 11th on the timesheets. The number 26 was seen testing a new tail unit for the Austrian factory and he completed 34 laps. Pedrosa’s four teammates – including Tech3 KTM Factory Racing – will be on track tomorrow to join the programme.
With the wind causing plenty of issues for the Shakedown Test, an already busy and vital Qatar Test is about to become even busier over the next week! Saturday sees all the full-time riders get their legs over MotoGP™ bikes for the first time in 2021, so don’t miss the it and stay up to date with the comprehensive coverage on motogp.com!
More, from a press release issued by Pramac Racing:
Qatar Test – Very positive first day for Jorge Martín with Pramac Racing
The 2021 MotoGP season is officially open with the debut of Jorge Martín in the premier class. Due to the strong wind, Martín’s debut had to be delayed a few hours. Today’s goals were to gain confidence with the Ducati Desmosedici and to find a good feeling, focusing exclusively on the ergonomics. A crash without consequences during the last lap put the word end to the first day of the shakedown test. The Spanish rider closed in tenth position, completing 31 laps in total with the best time of 1:58.875.
I’m very happy, it was a positive first day, I had a good feeling with the bike from the beginning and I felt very comfortable with the team. An incredible bike, the power is crazy and I had a lot of fun. I crashed on the last lap because I hit a hole but I’m ok, tomorrow I’ll do better.
More, from a press release issued by Ducati Lenovo Team:
Pirro opens the 2021 MotoGP season at the Shakedown Test in Qatar. Miller and Bagnaia to debut tomorrow with the Ducati Lenovo Team’s Desmosedici GP bikes on the first day of official testing at Losail
Ducati MotoGP Test Team rider Michele Pirro officially opened the 2021 MotoGP season today, taking part in the first shakedown test session at Losail International Circuit of Doha, Qatar, that will host the first two Grands Prix of the year in just over three weeks.
During the day reserved exclusively to test riders and rookies in the top class, the Apulian rider completed 58 laps with the 2021 version of the Borgo Panigale red machine and, despite the strong wind disrupting the session’s early hours, he was able to find positive sensations while gathering useful information. Tomorrow, the new Ducati Lenovo Team riders Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia will finally debut on the official Desmosedici GP bikes during the new season’s first winter test.
In addition to Saturday, the Australian and Piedmontese riders will have another seven hours of free practices on Sunday and three days of testing next week, again in Qatar, from 10th to 12th March, before returning to Losail International Circuit from 26th to 28th March for the Qatar GP, the opening round of the 2021 MotoGP World Championship.
Jack Miller (Ducati Lenovo Team, #43)
“I am super excited to finally be here in Qatar for the first test of the season and my first outing as an official Ducati rider. I’ve been waiting for this moment all these months, and I am eager to start working with my new team! These five days will be crucial for us: the opening Grand Prix will be held here at Losail International Circuit in just a few weeks. I am looking forward to starting the new season on a high, continuing from where we left off last year. It will be crucial to understand as much as possible during these days to find a solid base to work from during the race weekend”.
Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team, #63)
“I can’t wait to get on track tomorrow for the first time wearing the colours of the factory team! We have five days of testing ahead of us, which will be very demanding: compared to the past seasons, this year, we have little time to prepare well for the start of the new campaign. Unfortunately, the windy conditions disturb track actions a lot, but we will do our best to make the most of all the sessions available. The first two races will be held here at Losail, so it will be crucial to find a good set-up right from the start”.
More, from a press release issued by Sky Racing Team VR46:
DEBUT ON TRACK FOR LUCA MARINI AND THE SKY VR46 AVINTIA IN DOHA
Shakedown testing session in Qatar for rookies and test riders with Luca riding the Ducati for the first time.
Doha (Qatar), March 5th 2021 – Thirty-three laps on the Ducati of the Sky VR46 Avintia for Luca Marini’s track debut in Doha during the shakedown day preceding the first official IRTA test in Losail.
A day for starting to the take the measurements of the Ducati and work on the details such as the position on the bike, from the seat to the handlebars, to be able to set a best lap time of 1’58.376 and break the wall of the 2-minutes.
What an incredible power: I was expecting it, but it was so special the first exit. I did a few good laps, focusing only on my riding style to gain confidence. The braking has surprised me, I’m not completely comfortable because with the carbon disc it’s different and I definitely have to work on my style. Today I was able to improve the position on the bike by working on the details of the tank, the handlebars and the seat. Ducati is big, but I’m very tall. I’m not very happy with the lap time, but tomorrow we can make a step. A busy day, but physically I feel fine.
Today was the day of the debut on track for the Sky VR46 Avintia. Luca is a very young rider, rookies and a title contender last year in Moto2. I’m happy, it was the first time he was able to try the bike, a very powerful MotoGP prototype with lots of details to fix. The track was not perfect, dirty and a really wind day. The feelings were positive; however, he has started to know the bike and he managed to stay under the wall of two minutes on the flying lap. Tomorrow there will be many other riders on the track, not just the rookies, and we will have more references. Luca is fast and he want to show his best. We are a small team, but at the same time with a lot of experience on Ducati.