Alex Rins (Team Suzuki Ecstar) continued his great pre-season form by topping the timesheets on the second day of testing in Qatar overnight. The Spaniard put in a 1m54.593s to go fastest on Day 2, but it remained tight at the top as Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) ended the day just 0.057 in arrears.
That made some headlines in itself, but the man in third stole some too: rookie Fabio Quartararo (Petronas Yamaha SRT) claimed the next fastest position.
Rins’ teammate, rookie Joan Mir, also impressed and put in a 1m55.280s to end Sunday in P11, less than seven-tenths off his team-mate, and rank as the second quickest rookie.
Alex Rins – P1
“It would be good if the race was tomorrow! We’ve been doing a great job; in Sepang we tested a lot of parts, but here we’re confirming that those parts are good. But the important thing is the way I’m riding, step-by-step with a nice rhythm, and using worn tyres as well. The aim is to get everything 100% clear when we come back for the first race. I feel that our package is better than last year, just by changing small things. I feel happy with the bike.”
Joan Mir – P11
“I’m really satisfied with today, because I made good improvements. I’m feeling strong with the bike, especially as I improved my feeling with the front end which helped me to get a better pace. It was a shame because I put a new tyre in, but I wasn’t able to get the lap I wanted, but we have another day tomorrow and I’ll try again then. Today I tried the new exhaust and I’m happy about that too, I found positive things from it. The plan tomorrow is a race simulation and further improvements.”
Team Manager Davide Brivio said Mir was also testing some things, as well as adapting to the bike, but that he’d like to “race tomorrow” looking at Rins’ pace. That bodes well, and the Hamamatsu factory man also said everything “visible” on the bike is decided.
Davide Brivio – Suzuki Ecstar Team Manager
“We’ve had another positive day, the cherry on the cake was having the fastest lap time today. But the most important thing is that we were able to continue our plan and do our jobs well. Alex has good pace every time he takes to the track, and he puts together strong laps which is very helpful for us when it comes to testing. Joan improved again today and had another good lap time, close to many other riders. We are happy with the progress and the work we’ve done. Tomorrow we’ll think more about the upcoming race.”
Maverick Viñales – P2
“We were working a little bit on the race pace and honestly I’m quite happy, because I think we made good improvements today. It was important to feel the bike a little bit more, to find a new set-up to go fast. I think that job has been done and I’m quite happy about that. We still have a lot of things to do tomorrow to further improve. I hope to go faster tomorrow, because I think the track today wasn’t great. Tomorrow we can hopefully find a bit more grip. At the moment the grip level for me is quite low but we’re still there at the front and that’s the most important.”
It was a different story – in terms of lap-time at least – for teammate Valentino Rossi. The ‘Doctor’ ended the day down in P19, over a second off Viñales after putting in 51 laps, but the number 46 has never been one to blast out the blocks in testing.
Valentino Rossi – P19
“Today was more difficult. I struggled more, especially with the rear grip. Yesterday we had a base setting, I was not so bad. Today we tried to improve, we tried some different settings, but also some different materials. Unfortunately we didn’t improve. It was a difficult day, I was always too slow, so we’re not happy. Tomorrow we’ll try to follow some other directions, to be more competitive.”
Team Director Massimo Meregalli said it’s been time to confirm positives from Sepang, and that the speed and consistency from Day 1 were encouraging. On Sunday they focused on back-to-back comparisons, and working on fairings as homologation date draws near. The fairing, says Meregalli, is the only thing left to be decided upon – but there was also a new tail unit spotted.
Petronas Yamaha SRT, meanwhile, remained impressive in their own right and as help with development for the Iwata marque. Quartararo’s bike isn’t far off that of Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP, and teammate Franco Morbidelli’s is the same as that of Viñales and Rossi. Quartararo stunned with his laptime in third, and Morbidelli ended the day in P13 after 52 laps of more important data gathering.
Fabio Quartararo – P3
“It has been a very positive Sunday night for us here at Losail and we have learnt a lot about the bike. We kept up a strong pace on used tyres and also took an important step forward with respect to our time attacks. Tonight was the first time I have left the box thinking, ‘I’m going to set a fast lap no matter what,’ and I am happy with the lap times we set, especially lapping alone, when I put together three great laps. The objective tomorrow is to complete a longer run to check how the tyres work when they are already worn, and then at the end of the evening we will try another time attack.”
Franco Morbidelli – P13
“Today we took a step forward from yesterday and we have understood some new things. We are still gathering experience with the bike and figuring out how it reacts to certain changes that we make. Looking at the lap times tonight, the pace was good but we can still improve over a single lap on the soft tyre. We have to work out the best way to do that, which is exactly what testing is for.”
Danilo Petrucci (Mission Winnow Ducati Team) was the fastest Borgo Panigale machine in P4.
Danilo Petrucci – P4
“It’s been a busy day. We were among the first ones to take it to the track, and I felt comfortable right away. In particular, I was happy with the feeling with used tyres, both the medium and soft compounds. Our pace is competitive, while we still need to improve in terms of pure speed on new tyres. I still have to look into detail at our rival’s lap times, but we all seem to be quite close. Tomorrow we’ll keep working on the setup and we’ll also run a race simulation to make another step forward, which is crucial to fight for the podium during the race.”
After 48 laps ‘Petrux’ did a best of 1m54.953s and, despite being down in P8, teammate Andrea Dovizioso was close with a 1m11.205s after 53 laps. Team Manager Davide Tardozzi said Ducati have “clear ideas regarding frame, engines, aerodynamics, electronics” and that they were concentrating on tyre life – with an interesting addition under the bike that rumour says is aimed at tyre temperature.
Andrea Dovizioso – P8
“If we look at the lap times, today they probably don’t reveal too much: many riders worked esclusively for the upcoming race, but what matters the most is that my feeling with the bike is good. Today, as we had previously done in Malaysia, we did a race simulation split into two runs. It’s a very important task ahead of the opening race, even if it will unfold in slightly different conditions, and it allowed to gather interesting feedback even though it’s still difficult to gauge the true potential of our opponents. I think we’re working well and methodically, and tomorrow we’ll continue to focus on some details to find more ways to further improve.”
Jack Miller (Alma Pramac Racing) was the top Independent Team Ducati rider on Sunday and leapt up the timesheets into P12.
Jack Miller – P12
“I’m happier than yesterday. We worked effectively on the setup and geometry of the bike even though in the end we had to deal with a technical issue that slowed us down. I was able to improve my time despite the humidity that certainly didn’t help and for this, I thank the team that did a great job. Tomorrow we will try again in better conditions.”
Tito Rabat (Reale Avintia Racing) was in P14 despite a crash. He was just ahead of the second Alma Pramac Racing machine of rookie Francesco Bagnaia.
Pecco Bagnaia – P15
“It’s been a good day. We have taken a big step forward since yesterday. We were able to take a path that led us to be faster. In the end, I went on track to do a long run and in the first six laps, the feeling was good. Tomorrow we will also do some time attacks because we saved a lot of soft tyres today”
At Honda, Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) was the fastest man for the marque, in fifth. A 1m55.004s was his best effort, but crucially the reigning Champion managed nearly 60 laps – a good sign in his ongoing recovery from shoulder surgery, with Marquez having done less than forty on most test days so far.
Marc Marquez – P5
“I’m very happy today because it was my first ‘normal’ day of testing. I did a lot of laps, there was a little pain in the shoulder but it’s manageable. We also made a big step with the setup of the bike, I’m happy overall with my condition and the bike. We’re getting closer and closer at a circuit that’s usually not the best for us and there’s still a day of testing left.”
Teammate Jorge Lorenzo was a second quicker than Day 1 but in a tight trio between Johann Zarco (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing) and Rossi, and he put in 44 laps with a best of 1:55.742 as he fights to recover from his broken scaphoid.
Jorge Lorenzo – P18
“Today was better than yesterday. We modified the bike to improve my feeling and confidence across the whole circuit. You can see we’ve improved by over one second, the position isn’t much better but we are much closer to the front – this is the most important part. Tomorrow we’re aiming to make another step forward again, especially with corner entry as I think there’s still more to do there.”
Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) was second fastest Honda in P7, and rumour has it one of his bikes seemed to migrate to his teammate’s side of the garage too. That teammate, Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol), had a tough first day but was back in the mix in the top ten on Sunday, doing 35 laps and taking P9.
Takaaki Nakagami – P7
“It was another positive test day for us, and step-by-step we are really making improvements on the bike. Also, I feel my riding improved even more today compared to the first day. I’m very happy with the feeling on the bike and of course with the LCR Honda IDEMITSU Team. The position is not so bad, and the lap time is closer to the top, so I’m really happy with the day and looking forward to the last day of pre-season tests. Let’s see if we can make even more improvements tomorrow before the season begins.”
Cal Crutchlow – P9
“We finished a little bit early today on our second day of testing here in Qatar. We got through everything in our programme for the day. We’ve got more to do tomorrow, and we’ve decided on a few different things we’re going to try then on the last day of testing before the season starts. The LCR Honda CASTROL Team have worked really hard as always, and we are a bit more pleased than yesterday, but there’s still a way to go to make sure we’re at the front.”
Aleix Espargaro (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini) impressed once again on Day 2. He ended the day in sixth – just 0.002 ahead of Nakagami – and put in 55 laps. Aprilia had a new exhaust, and Technical Manager Romano Albesiano said Espargaro and teammate Andrea Iannone were testing race setup and aero. Iannone reportedly had positive feedback on the aero, and he ended the day in P16. Test rider Bradley Smith, meanwhile, was focusing on electronics.
Aleix Espargaro – P6
“I am satisfied overall. We managed to improve a lot compared to yesterday. I feel more at ease with the 2019 RS-GP although I must admit that there is still margin for improvement, especially in terms of my feeling, for example in the braking phase, where I take a few too many risks. But you also need to consider that this is our second test with the new bike. I learn something with every outing and the mechanics gather more information that lets us perfect the setting. Tomorrow will be a fundamental day, the last before the race weekend. We’ll try a simulation to have a clearer idea of our level as compared to our rivals.”
Andrea Iannone – P16
“Our priority right now is to get to know the bike better, improving step by step. We improved compared to yesterday, but we need to keep pushing hard and make the right choices, especially in terms of setup. There is obviously always something that doesn’t give us the results we expect, but we take that as another bit of information that helps us improve. As I said yesterday, we have good potential and the job is to make it consistent throughout race distance in order to maintain a good pace from start to finish.”
Completing the top ten on Sunday was another headline stealer – Pol Espargaro (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing). He was even higher up for much of the session, and his 1:55.255 meant that all six factories were within the top ten after a fitting 44 laps for the 2013 Moto2 World Champion.
Pol Espargaro – P10
“A satisfying day. We knew we had a lot to try so we started early on. Traction is important on this track, especially from corners 9-12, but we have to be careful not to use the tyre. We were working on that – as well as the race pace – because we know it will be a hard GP for us. The race itself should be a bit earlier in the day, so it’ll be warmer and tyre wear at the end will be really important. Tomorrow will be a hard day and we want to try a long run as well. Michelin are doing a good job, they have brought a new softer rear compound so they are trying to make our work fun, which is nice, and the performance of the bike is good. Overall though we must work on the electronics and the overall set-up.”
Teammate Zarco was in P17 just ahead of Lorenzo, but quicker than Day 1. Team Manager Mike Leitner said the focus had switched from bigger changes to details, and noted the pressure to get ready – especially with so many items to test. He also said both have good feelings and noted the particularly positive results for Espargaro’s testing.
Johann Zarco – P17
“The second day has been better for me and straight away we were able to understand why I could not improve any more on the first day. It’s important to feel that on the bike, and the positive and negatives things of our work. We moved a few steps forward for my sensation when riding and it made me smile. We’re still one second away from the first guy but we made improvements. We made many laps here and while I’m not sure if we are fully set for this race yet we can do the best job we can. It is just about finding the right set-up for my riding style and when we put our finger on something I can immediately make progress. We are taking a while to find it…but this is just the beginning of our story. I would like to get inside a second tomorrow: that would be interesting. I want to get closer.”
Miguel Oliveira – P21
“Today has been quite different to yesterday. We improved the lap time, which is a good point. We managed to do some decent work on the bike, we kept focused more on the long-runs and how the race should look like; tyre-wise and also setting-wise, we adapted the bike a lot – not to do a fast lap, but to have a fast pace. Overall, I felt quite strong. We have plenty of opportunities tomorrow to try to put in a fast lap.”
Hafizh Syahrin – P23
“It has been a tough second day here. We tried to change many things to improve my feeling on the brake and especially on the front part of the bike. On the rear, we just tried the soft tyre. To be honest, I’m a bit disappointed of myself because I was expecting more. Anyway, we keep on working hard, try to understand more and I want to refresh for tomorrow as it is the last day before the start of the season.”
MotoGP riders have one more day of testing in Qatar and that will get underway tonight. We will have all the news for you on MCNews.com.au in the morning.
MotoGP Qatar Test 2019
Day Two Times
MOTOGP: Losail-Test (Qatar) – Test Day 2
24.02.-25.02.2019, Losail International Circuit, 1 lap: 5.380 km
MCNEWS.COM.AU is a specialist on-line resource that provides motorcycle news for motorcyclists. MCNews covers all areas of interest for the motorcycling public including news, reviews and comprehensive racing coverage.