Rain washes out final MotoGP Test day at Losail

Ducati will leave Qatar the happiest team after torrential rain ended any chance of track action on the last day of the final preseason Losail MotoGP Test.

It was  disappointing end to the test at the Losail International Circuit, as torrential rain meant that race direction had to issue a red flag early on as conditions proved hazardous. Although the green flag did appear with over 3 hours left to go, by that point most of the teams had packed up and were in the process of leaving the circuit, meaning that no riders made it onto the track today to set a lap time.

With todays action curtailed, Ducati will leave the test the happiest of the manufacturers, after dominating proceedings during the first two days. The Italian manufacturer completed a 1-2 on Saturday and only missed out on achieving the same feat on the second day by 0.013s.

Andrea Dovizioso led the way on the overall timesheet’s as the only rider to get under the 1’55 mark, setting a 1’54.907 and beating Casey Stoner’s circuit record by over two-hundredths of a second in the process, while his teammate Iannone finished in 3rd 0.197s back. The test also saw the revival of Ducati’s “winglets” as they appeared on Dovizioso’s bike during Sunday, with the fins designed to enhance the aerodynamics of the bike. Dovizioso stated that he was happy with the GP15’s pace, which was even more even more impressive considering he said that they had not used the softer tyre available to them, as part of their concessions as a factory team without a race win since 2013.

Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez was the only rider to threaten the domination of the Ducati’s and ended the three day test in 2nd place, just 0.184s off Dovizioso. Marquez, who was focusing on finding his perfect race setup, was the only rider to get within a half a second of the Ducati’s, although he stated that he does not see the GP15 as serious competition come the start of the season, instead focusing on the Yamaha’s and his own teammate as his main rivals. Dani Pedrosa on the other Repsol Honda finished the test down in 6th, having never really threatened the top of the timesheet’s as he tried out a different set of front forks on Sunday, and was 0.675s slower than the leading Ducati.

Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi both admitted their frustrations over the first two days, as they could not get within 0.5s of Dovizioso’s fastest time on their Movistar Yamaha YZR-M1’s. Lorenzo  improved over the course of the test, shaving three-tenths off his best time from Saturday, and finishing ahead of his teammate in 4th. Rossi was a further 0.081s back, but managed to improve by over half a second over the two days as he put in his fastest lap late in the evening on Sunday.

Cal Crutchlow was the leading satellite rider throughout the test on his factory spec CWM LCR Honda RC213V. The British rider escaping unharmed form a small crash on Sunday to finish in 7th, just seven-tenths back from Dovizioso, and went on to say he was happy with the progress made by his team, although there was still room for improvement. His teammate Jack Miller continued his adjustment to the premier class on his Open spec RC213V-RS, and he managed to finish within two-seconds of the leader in 22nd place.

Team Suzuki Ecstar had a mixed test in Qatar, with Aleix Espargaro impressing for the returning factory team on the first day when he finished 4th fastest. Unfortunately he was one of only two riders not to improve his time on the second day, and ended up in 10th place overall. Class rookie Maverick Viñales also had some issues as he had to end his testing early on day one after two minor crashes meant he had damaged both of his bikes. Unlike Espargaro he did manage to improve his time on Sunday, finishing the three days in 14th place, just over two-tenths behind his teammate.

It was an encouraging test for Monster Tech 3 Yamaha as both riders managed to finish inside the top ten, within 0.01s of each other. Bradley Smith, who finished ahead of his teammate in 8th, used the Sunday to test out a new swingarm, and stated that he feels the bike is “95%” there ahead of the first race in Qatar. Pol Espargaro improved by almost a second over the two days to end in 9th, after resolving an issue that was causing a lack of confidence in his front tyre.

ABMotoracing’s Karel Abraham ended the three days as the top Open class rider, finishing in 10th overall and having improved his time from the first day by almost a second.

Pramac Racing’s Yonny Hernandez continued to recover from his shoulder injury as he finished the test in 12th on his factory spec Ducati, while his teammate Danilo Petrucci failed to improve his time from day one and ended up in 17th.

Scott Redding on the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Racing Honda ended the test saying he was happy with the way he had closed the gap on the leading riders, as he managed to put in a 16 lap race simulation on the day two. The British rider finished in 12th overall, less than a second behind Dovizioso, and more importantly only 0.221s behind the factory Honda of Pedrosa.

Avintia Racing’s Hector Barbera and Mike Di Meglio ended up in 15th and 18th respectively on the Open class Ducati’s, while it was an encouraging test for the Drive M7 Aspar team with Nicky Hayden finishing in 16th place and his teammate, class rookie Eugene Laverty, ending the three days only 1.435s behind the leading Ducati in 19th.

Forward Racing brought a new fairing to Qatar to evaluate and despite crashing on Sunday, Stefan Bradl ended the three days in 21st, just over two-tenths quicker than his teammate Loris Baz in 23rd.

Aprilia Racing Gresini Team leave Qatar having decided on the base versions of their RS-GP bike  that each rider will use in the first race. Alvaro Bautista finished the test in 24th, only .117s ahead of the Octo Ioda ART bike of Alex De Angelis. His teammate Marco Melandri once again occupied last place on the timesheet’s as he finished 3 seconds slower than Dovizioso, although he had managed to close the gap to the leading rider by almost 0.7 seconds over the three days.

With less than 1 second separating the top 14, and only 2 seconds between the leading 22 riders, and with preseason testing having concluded, the MotoGP paddock will return to Qatar on 29 March for the first race of the 2015 season.

MotoGP Official Test Losail – Combined Times

  1. Andrea Dovizioso – Ducati – 1m54.907
  2. Marc Marquez – Honda – 1m55.091
  3. Andrea Iannone – Ducati – 1m55.104
  4. Jorge Lorenzo – Yamaha – 1m55.500
  5. Valentino Rossi – Yamaha – 1m55.581
  6. Dani Pedrosa – Honda – 1m55.582
  7. Cal Crutchlow – Honda – 1m55.624
  8. Bradley Smith – Yamaha – 1m55.648
  9. Pol Espargaro – Yamaha – 1m55.658
  10. Aleix Espargaro – Suzuki – 1m55.698
  11. Karel Abraham – Honda – 1m55.765
  12. Yonny Hernandez – Ducati – 1m55.772
  13. Scott Redding – Honda – 1m55.803
  14. Maverick Vinales – Suzuki – 1m55.810
  15. Hector Barbera – Ducati – 1m56.058
  16. Nicky Hayden – Honda – 1m56.104
  17. Danilo Petrucci – Ducati – 1m56.132
  18. Mike Di Meglio – Ducati – 1m56.259
  19. Eugene Laverty – Honda – 1m56.342
  20. Michele Pirro – Ducati – 1m56.476
  21. Stefan Bradl – Yamaha – 1m56.724
  22. Jack Miller – Honda – 1m56.758
  23. Loris Baz – Yamaha – 1m56.936
  24. Alvaro Bautista – Aprilia – 1m57.723
  25. Alex De Angelis – ART – 1m57.390
  26. Marco Melandri – Aprilia – 1m57.982

Ducati Report

Today’s third day of pre-season IRTA testing in Qatar was characterized by the rain that began to fall on the Losail International Circuit in the early afternoon and which then intensified as the day wore on, making it impossible for the riders to go out on track. In Qatar, the possibility of using rain tyres is not an option due to the floodlit illumination of the track, which creates glare on the wet surface.

As a result, bikes and riders remained in the garage and so the final testing day came to an early end also for the two Ducati Team riders.

The times set yesterday on day 2 remain unchanged, leaving Andrea Dovizioso at the top of the timesheets with a 1’54.907 lap and Andrea Iannone in third place, with a time of 1’55.104, just 13/1000ths away from Marquez.

Even though they were unable to complete today’s scheduled workload, which also included an entire race simulation, both Italian riders now return home satisfied with their results and the improved feeling they have obtained with the Desmosedici GP15.

Andrea Dovizioso (Ducati Team #04) – 1’54.907 (1st), total 86 laps – “We are very satisfied with the results obtained in the first two days of testing in Qatar, because we were always very quick both on new tyres and used ones. It’s a pity that today we were unable to go out on track, because we had some important tests to do in view of the race and we wanted to gather some extra data, but the rain made it impossible. In any case we start the season very satisfied over the work done with the new GP15, which immediately went well here in Qatar. I really think that we can have our say in the race, and for sure things are a lot more positive than last year. I want to thank my team and all the guys in Ducati Corse because they have worked really hard and very well!”

Andrea Iannone (Ducati Team #29) – 1’55.104 (3rd), total 96 laps – “I am happy with the way these two days of testing went, because they were undoubtedly very positive. We went really well and again managed to improve the feeling with the new GP15, even though I am very disappointed that we were unable to benefit from this final day of testing, which for us was important. We had scheduled a specific work programme in order to improve some small things and to do some more tests, but unfortunately the rain prevented everyone from going out on track. I am optimistic for the race weekend and can’t wait to get back on track here in ten days’ time.”

Luigi Dall’Igna (Ducati Corse General Manager) – “It is a pity that we were unable to make the most out of today’s final day, because we had scheduled an intense work programme with both of our riders, which also included an entire race simulation. The Desmosedici GP15 is still a brand-new bike, and so this last day of track action would have been very useful for us. However we are happy with the results that we obtained during the first two days and the overall reliability of the project. Both Dovizioso and Iannone constantly lapped in the leading positions, they were always able to set interesting times and this makes us optimistic for the future, even though we know that we still have a lot more work to do”.

Yamaha Report

The Movistar Yamaha MotoGP team was disappointed to conclude the final day of preseason testing at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar today without being able to ride due to a sudden rainstorm.

Riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi were looking forward to testing some new settings they found in the previous days, but were unable to do so as the rain caused the wet track to reflect the glaring floodlights, making for unrideable conditions. As there were also no wet weather tyres available the session was red flagged and the teammates had no other option than to wait for the weather to clear up and a dry race line to form on track. When there was still no sign of improvement in the weather conditions after 7pm the team was forced to call it quits.

With no track-action being done today by any of the MotoGP riders, Lorenzo and Rossi remain fourth and fifth place respectively in the combined session times. They now look forward to return to the Losail International Circuit on Thursday the 26th of March for the first Grand Prix weekend of the season under the floodlights in Qatar.

Jorge Lorenzo – 4th / 1’55.500 / 94 laps – “We couldn’t ride today because of the bad weather conditions at Losail. It was raining all the day and because of these circumstances we were not able to profit from a final day of testing. It’s a pity because we planned to check out different settings, but it’s the same for everybody. Overall the preseason was good for us. We have a good bike, especially compared to last year and we gained something with the new gearbox. The bike has a good basis and we think we have a big margin to improve while developing. We are quite confident even if our rivals have also improved a lot. After Sepang we had some good feelings and Qatar was a bit more difficult. The track was so slippery, especially the first day. The second day we could manage in a better way and we felt more comfortable on the bike but at this track it’s always tough because of the track conditions. The grip is not perfect and we struggle a bit with the rear, but in general the bike’s behaviour is quite good. Hopefully we can improve for the race weekend and be ready for the first fight of the season. We’re eager to kick off this exciting season we have ahead.”

Valentino Rossi – 5th / 1’55.581 / 109 laps – “It was a real shame not to be able to ride at the last day of testing. The day was very important to fix the last things and to improve the bike before the race. The rain unfortunately did not allow us to complete these tests. However we can make a positive balance of these tests. The pre-season tests were positive. The bike has improved from last year and this is the most important thing. It will be a good season. There are many riders that will be fast and close. To stay ahead we must be 100%. The new gearbox will help us. It works well and this helps a lot in braking. This is not a huge advantage but it is an advantage. I really want to start this season. The guys are excited. We are all impatient to start this championship. Just a few days left and I can tell you that, in spite of this day, we are ready to go!”

Massimo Meregalli – Movistar Yamaha MotoGP Team Director – “For us it’s a pity that it started raining here in Qatar. We had some difficulties during the first race last year and prepared some different settings to test today but unfortunately we couldn’t. We will start next Thursday with these new settings, but until then we live in doubt and that’s never a good thing. In Sepang we made some good improvements while it’s not one of our best circuits. Here at the Losail International Circuit I’m less positive, because usually this track is good on a Yamaha, so the expectations before we started testing were different. We know that when there’s a lack of grip we suffer a bit more than our competitors, but for me that’s normal. We know we have to work and we will be ready in a week. A race is a race and both riders are used to doing their best during a race. I spoke with the technicians this afternoon and they are both quite optimistic. From what they’ve seen yesterday and also from what the riders have said, they will probably be able to prepare something that will work. The only matter is that we have to wait. The competition is growing. Yesterday there were more than ten people within less than a second, so for me, in terms of spectacle, we will add to a nice championship this year.”

Tech3 Yamaha

The Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team riders did not ride in the final day of pre season action due to a sudden downpour in Qatar. It was not possible for any rider to take their bikes out on the track due to the rain which caused a reflection of the lights on the asphalt. With no rain tyres available either, the circuit did not dry in time and hence, no riders opted to run.

Despite this, the test was overall positive for Bradley Smith, who concluded the final pre season outing in 8th position with a best time of 1’55.648, that was under two tenths of a second off 4th place. The 23 year old rider made further progress with the setup of his Yamaha YZR-M1 which had an encouraging outcome after undertaking 92 laps around the Losail International circuit. The result leaves Smith fully motivated for a flying start to the MotoGP season at Qatar on the 29th March where he will intend to begin his 2015 campaign with a strong points scoring finish.

On the opposite side of the Monster Yamaha Tech3 Team garage, Pol Espargaro finished the test right behind his teammate in ninth position and was split by only one hundredth of a second with a best lap of 1’55.658. This performance signalled a positive close to the pre season testing as he undertook a huge amount of work, whereby he completed 96 laps over two days of running. Although the loss of track time prevented any further improvement, the 2014 MotoGP rookie of the year now confidently looks ahead to the first race of 2015 where he will aim to battle to finish as the leading satellite MotoGP rider.

Bradley Smith – 8th / 1’55.648 / 92 laps – “It’s unfortunate that the rain has stopped the final day of testing, but honestly, we have already completed a race simulation in Sepang so it’s not a huge loss. I also did one here last year in the test so we have the information we need. In addition, we did a lot of long runs on the same tyre and know how the compound behaves after a lot of laps. The lap times are close so the first race will be interesting and I’m truly happy with what we have achieved. The bike is working really well at the moment and we have two or three ideas that we will try in ten days when we return here. If we can run high 1’55 laps in the race then we are where we want to be. So at the moment, we need to find about 0.3 each lap, then we will be happy. I’ve really enjoyed the preseason this year, ridden a lot of laps and tried a lot of things but now the nice part of the year starts where you can score points! The competition is back on and it will be a good one.”

Pol Espargaro – 9th / 1’55.658 / 96 laps “It’s a pity that we couldn’t take advantage of the last day of testing as I’m convinced that we would have been able to find some further improvements to lower our lap time and I was really looking forward to doing a full race simulation. However, fortunately we are still leaving Qatar with the positive feelings from yesterday because after a challenging first day, we turned the situation around and the pace was truly encouraging as well as the confidence I had with the bike. The gap to the other Yamahas was minimal so I think we are in a good position for when we return to Qatar in 10 days. I’m convinced the race weekends will definitely be different, as we have less time to set up the bike so we need to be fast straight away and more competitive on a single lap time, but I can’t wait for the season to start as I feel we are well prepared.”

Forward Yamaha

The weather was the real star of the last day of testing at the Losail circuit. The rain began to fall heavily in the morning and it made it impossible for the riders to go on the track. Stefan Bradl and Loris Baz in fact spent the day working in the pits without being able to get on their Forward Yamaha.

The newly renewed Athinà Forward Racing ends testing today after sporting for the first time its new livery and aerodynamics. Stefan Bradl was not at his best, first because of an intestinal problems and then because of a serious crash on Sunday. The German failed to complete the planned program, but is confident he can lead the Open pack from the very first race. He posted a best lap of 1.56.724, reaching 21st position in the timesheets. On the other side Loris Baz had two days of intense work instead as he continued his work to adapt to the new bike. The Frenchman completed 80 laps with a personal best of 156.936, 23rd.

The three-days Doha test officially closes the winter program for the MotoGP team. The next scheduled event is the first race of the season in a little less than two weeks at the Losail circuit.

Stefan Bradl – 21st / 1’56.724 / 44 laps – “It was not an easy test for us. At first I was sick and then I crashed yesterday, these episodes prevented me from completing my program. I could not complete many laps and I could not improve as much as I wanted for the race. The overall riding feeling remains positive and even my pace is good. The debut in Qatar is approaching and it is important to stay focused. My goal is to get closer to the head of the Open pack.”

Loris Baz – 23rd / 1’56.936 / 80 laps – “Too bad we were not able to make the most of the day. Between Friday and Saturday I tried several good solutions and now it was time to get on track with the soft tires to try some flying laps. Bad weather stopped us and we could not get on track. It has been a fairly better test then Sepang II where I suffered a bit but here the feeling was good right away. Even the race simulation went pretty well and all we can do is continue working in sight of the first race in two weeks.”

Team Suzuki Report

Rain prevented any testing today on the Losail circuit in Qatar and also put an end to the 2015 season’s MotoGP™ winter testing schedule before the season start at the same venue next weekend.

The winter testing sessions gave the Team Suzuki Ecstar engineers a lot of data to work on, and also riders Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Viñales had the chance to get familiar with their GSX-RRs. So far the machines proved to be very effective in terms of chassis and suspension, while there is still room for improvements on engine and electronics sides.

Team Suzuki is now eager to get into racing following all the development work that has been done during last two years of preparation for the Japanese manufacturer’s return to the top-level of global racing. Riders and engineers are ready to take the challenge to the 2015 MotoGP™ Championship, having collected enough experience to be competitive at the highest level.

Satoru Terada – Team Director:  “We are now ready to race and we can’t wait to measure ourselves on the track. I’m satisfied with our development program over the past two years: we know that we lack some horsepower and our engineers in Japan are already working on this issue, but we are also aware that our machines are very effective in terms of chassis and set-ups. The riders seem to be comfortable and this gives us good hope. We did a huge amount of work in development and now we need to take to the track for racing, which is in our spirit. I’m expecting to see our riders fight with the other Factory teams, I know that it will be very hard, especially in first races, but I want us to catch up with the best as soon as possible because I know we can do it. We will continue to introduce improvements to the bikes over the whole season and hopefully they will lead us to be more-and-more competitive over the 18 races.”

Aleix Espargaro:  “Unfortunately today we couldn’t test because of the rain, which is pretty weird since we are supposed to be in the desert. We had some work to do and it is a pity we couldn’t, but at the same time we are pretty confident about our condition. We know we can still improve and we have directions where we know we can go, but now it’s time to go racing because this is what we’re here for. We will make some final testing during the first day here in Qatar, but we are already pretty confident we can perform well. We already know that we have a good chassis and we made good steps forward in electronics; further technical improvements will come but now it’s time to find a good pace with the package that we have, which is already positive. I really can’t wait to get into the races!”

Maverick Viñales:  “I’m disappointed for today’s rain, I’m a rookie and I need to ride my GSX-RR as much as possible to get familiar with it. It’s not really a problem of technical improvements that could have been tested, it is more a matter of experience and feeling. Anyway, we are all here for racing, not for only testing, so I’m happy that the next time I take to the track it will be a real preparation for the race. We have positive feelings about this, will work on all the data we collected and will try to be consistent with the hard tyre, which means being competitive in race.”

Losail MotoGP Test Day Three Rained out
Losail MotoGP Test Day Three Rained out
Losail MotoGP Test Day Three Rained out
Losail MotoGP Test Day Three Rained out
Losail MotoGP Test Day Three Rained out
Losail MotoGP Test Day Three Rained out
Losail MotoGP Test Day Three Rained out
Losail MotoGP Test Day Three Rained out
Losail MotoGP Test Day Three Rained out
Losail MotoGP Test Day Three Rained out