Qatar Testing Day 5: Sandstorm Disruption

Dust and sand drastically limited running on the final day of testing in Qatar. The red flag was even brought out to allow the circuit to be cleaned at one stage.

Maverick Viñales and Fabio Quartararo were unable to continue their testing progress. They did however put in a few practice starts at the end of the day, but didn’t improve on their personal best times set earlier in the Qatar MotoGP Official Test.

Viñales‘ 1’53.244s lap time that he set yesterday earned him second place in the combined Qatar Test timesheets, with a margin of 0.061s to first. Having already completed most of the evaluation programme, he is feeling confident for the start of the 2021 season.

Quartararo‘s 1‘53.263s lap from Day 3 puts him in third place in the combined Qatar Test results, 0.080s from the front. He too is keen on returning to the Losail International Circuit in two weeks‘ time for the Grand Prix of Qatar held from 26th-28th March.

Completing only eight laps on the final day, Pol Espargaro ended the final day of testing in fifth with a 2’01.303 – this time was seven seconds off his best lap of the test. Despite the lacklustre end, Espargaro and the entire Repsol Honda Team leave very pleased with the foundations they built over the five days.

Stefan Bradl entered the track after the red flag allowed for the track to be cleaned. Like Espargaro, his laps were limited and Bradl set a best time of 1’49.432 to end the day second.

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing duo Miguel Oliveira and Brad Binder notched plenty of circulations of the fast, windy layout and in varying temperatures as afternoon sunshine turned to dusk, evening and humidity throughout the test. In the final combined standings Oliveira placed 16th while Binder, who did manage a few minutes on track, ended the visit in 17th.

Tech3 KTM Factory Racing pair Iker Lecuona (his second season with the French crew and second in the category) and Danilo Petrucci (the sole ‘rookie’ to the KTM line-up for ’21) were also embarking on their respective journeys for base setting and feeling. The Spaniard was 23rd while the Italian 19th from the last three days.

Jack Miller on the Ducati Lenovo Racing Team remains top of the board, with a time of 1’53.183 on Day 5. Both Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia had already completed their respective work programmes on Thursday, anticipating Friday’s worsening weather conditions. The overall time classification is confirmed, which sees Miller in first place thanks to the extraordinary lap time set on Wednesday evening and on that occasion, the Australian rider improved the current track record. The Pramac Racing Team’s Ducati Johann Zarco reached a speed of 357.6 km/h yesterday, setting a new overall MotoGP record.

Action resumes at the Losail International Circuit on Friday, March 26 as Free Practice 1 at 15:40 Local Time marks the official start of the 2021 MotoGP World Championship season.