Felice Monteleone – FMPhotoSport MotoGP News
MotoGP Official Test Qatar – Saturday, 14 March 2015
The factory Ducati Team dominated proceedings under the floodlights on the first day of the final preseason test at the Losail International Circuit.
With most teams waiting until at least 6pm before heading out on track for the conditions to be more reflective of when they will race here in two weeks time, it took a while for the action to heat up at the 5.4 km circuit.
Ducati said they were bringing a significant update to Qatar, and the GP15 seemed to like the Losail circuit, as Factory riders Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso led the way from early on. Iannone topped the timesheet’s with a 1’55.265, 0.7s off Lorenzo’s pole time from 2015, after being one of the most active riders of the day completing a total of 50 laps. His teammate Dovizioso was less than a tenth of a second behind in 2nd, making it a one-two for the Italian manufacturer.
Even the Repsol Honda of Marc Marquez could not match the pace of the Ducatis as he ended the day in 3rd (+0.289s), with teammate Dani Pedrosa putting in a late flying lap to finish in fifth as he tried out some different fork settings on his RC213V.
Team Suzuki Ecstar would have been encouraged by the competitiveness of Aleix Espargaro who finished 4th fastest (+0.433). They will look to test some updates to the GSX-RR tomorrow. His teammate Maverick Viñales was a further 0.4s back in 11th having ended the days testing early after damaging both of his bikes in crashes, luckily without injury.
For the Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team it was a case of continuing to develop their seamless shift gearbox having officially announced they will use it during the season. Jorge Lorenzo finished in 6th (+0.563s) just one-tenth ahead of teammate Valentino Rossi in 8th, with the 9-time World Champion the first rider to crash earlier on in the day, managing to walk away unhurt.
Sandwiched between them on the timesheets was Cal Crutchlow on the CWM-LCR Honda. The British rider made a big leap forward throughout the day, setting a 1’55.837 as he continued to try and solve the brake issue that was bothering him at the second Sepang test. His teammate Miller is making progress on his Open spec Honda and was less than 2 seconds slower than Iannone back in 19th place.
Monster Yamaha Tech 3 team’s Bradley Smith finished just 1 hundredth of a second behind Rossi in 9th, while Pol Espargaro could not match his teammate’s pace and finished in 14th. He was another rider to complete 50 laps around the Losail track.
Scott Redding seemingly made some big advances throughout the day as he managed to finish less than a second off the leaders, completing the top ten in the process on his Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Racing Team Honda.
Yonny Hernandez continued his encouraging return from his shoulder injury for Pramac Racing, showing good pace to finish in 13th, just under two-tenths behind his teammate Danilo Petrucci in 12th on the Factory class Ducati’s.
Karel Abraham was the leading Open class rider in 15th for his AB Motoracing team, just ahead of the Avintia Racing Ducati of Mike De Meglio.
Drive M7 Aspar Team’s Nicky Hayden finished in 17th place, 0.4 seconds ahead of rookie teammate Eugene Laverty in 22nd, as they looked to try and find a good base setup on their Open spec Honda’s.
Athinà Forward Racing brought a new fairing to Qatar in their bid to win the Open title this year with riders Loris Baz and Stefan Bradl 18th and 20th on the timesheet’s respectively.
Hector Barbera on the other Avintia Racing Ducati was in 21st place, with Alex De Angelis on the Octo Ioda Open ART machine finishing ahead of the factory Aprilia Racing Team Gresini RS-GP’s of Alvaro Bautista and Marco Melandri.