Felice Monteleone – FMPhotoSport MotoGP News
Preview MotoGP Official Test Qatar – Friday, 13 March 2015
The final MotoGP™ preseason test gets under way this weekend under the floodlights of the Losail International Circuit in Qatar.
With teams having had time to digest and interpret all of the data they had recorded at the last Sepang test in February, the MotoGP™ paddock heads to Losail for 3 days/nights this Saturday, before the season kicks off in earnest at the same circuit on 29 March.
The Repsol Honda Team will hope to repeat their domination of the previous two tests during which Marc Marquez managed to finish fastest overall. The reigning MotoGP™ Champion said he had found the set up he was looking for on his RC213V at Sepang 2 and without any major new upgrades in Qatar, he will mostly be focusing on race prep and running simulations. Dani Pedrosa was happy with his performance at the last test after finishing 7th overall, although he has admitted that they have number of things to work on during the three days at Losail.
The factory Ducati Team seemed happy with the debut of the all new GP15 bike at the Sepang 2 test after it immediately seemed to solve the understeer issues caused by the old machine with Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso managing to finish in 4th and 9th place overall respectively. Iannone seemed to adapt to the physically smaller machine more easily than his teammate as they rode the new bike “back to back” with the old GP14.3 version. Team Manager Luigi Dall’Igna has said they will use the time in Qatar to develop the GP15 further in an effort to settle on the best bike and set up for each rider before the start of the season.
Movistar Yamaha introduced their new ‘evolved” seamless shift gearbox at Sepang 2 after having announced they will use it during the 2015 season, with Valentino Rossi stating that while it wasn’t the huge breakthrough he had hoped for it was definitely an improvement. Rossi finished 7 tenths behind Marquez and after the two tests in Malaysia is looking forward to trying out his YZF-M1 at a different track to see how it performs. Teammate Jorge Lorenzo finished the last test just 3 tenths behind Marquez in 2nd overall and while he feels the bike is still “a little bit slow”, he is happy with how far his team have managed to close the gap to the Honda’s, and would be looking for even more improvements in Qatar.
Cal Crutchlow will want to build on his impressive showing last time out in Sepang where he finished 3rd ahead of a number of factory riders, as he continued to adapt his riding style to get the most out of his CWM LCR Honda RC213V. The British rider will also hope to have sorted out the brake issues that ruined his race simulation during the previous test, while for his teammate Miller it is a case of just trying to spend as much time as possible on his open class RC213V-RS before his MotoGP™ debut.
Suzuki Ecstar Racing, as the factory team will now be known after their official launch, have been working hard on the data obtained from the previous test as they continue to develop the new GSX-RR bike. Having seemingly managed to close the power-gap to the other manufacturers that was so evident earlier in the season with an engine upgrade, the team have stated that they will have a number of new updates and parts for Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales to continue to develop during this test.
The Monster Tech 3 Yamaha Team will continue to work on individual rider setups after Bradley Smith finished 6th overall at Sepang 2, just two tenth’s behind the top satellite rider Crutchlow, as he made his return from an ankle injury. His teammate Pol Espargaro was left a little frustrated after a crash and various other issues meant he finished the previous test down in 11th overall, although he has stated that his team has lots of ideas about how they can improve on that performance in Qatar.
Avintia Racing will hope Hector Barbera can remain the fastest open class rider on his GP14.2, after an impressive 8th overall at Sepang 2, while his teammate Mike De Meglio feels that he is learning more about the Ducati with every lap and cannot wait to get back on the bike after improving each day during the last test.
Scott Redding is enjoying being the sole focus of his one man Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Racing Team, and has stated that he will be looking to continue to get used to the new factory spec Honda he will be riding this year. The British rider also acknowledged that it felt great to be back with the team that brought him so close to the Moto2 title in 2013 and that he needs to learn from the faster guys ahead of him to allow him to be more competitive throughout the season.
The Aprilia Racing Team Gresini recently held their official launch in Milan and discussed the challenges they will face this season as they look to make their return to MotoGP™ a season earlier than originally planned. With that in mind, they will be bringing a series of updates for riders Alvaro Bautista and Marco Melandri to test in Losail, in an effort to try and improve their performance at from Sepang 2 where they finished off the pace in 19th and 27th place respectively.
Pramac Ducati were happy, if a little surprised by how fast Danilo Petrucci was in Malaysia where he ended up in 12th overall, and believe that Yonny Hernandez can be even quicker in Losail now he has had more time to recover from his shoulder injury.
Drive M7 Aspar’s Nicky Hayden feels they are “on the right track” as they head out to the final test, and he and his team mate Eugene Laverty will be focusing on developing their electronic packages, while the Honda of AB Racings Karel Abraham, Alex de Angelis’ Octo Ioda Racing Ducati, and the Athiná Forward Racing Team of Stefan Bradl and Loris Baz complete the line up for the final pre season test, with action due to get underway at 16:00 local time on Saturday.