The opening Official 2021 MotoGP pre-season test has come to a close with Fabio Quartararo and Yamaha fastest during the second day of full track action at Losail, the Frenchman being the only rider under the 1m 54s mark.
Aleix Espargaro and Aprilia had been the surprise leaders on day one and the Spaniard showed it had been no fluke by also leading during the crucial closing hours on Sunday, with only Quartararo and then Ducati’s Jack Miller eventually able to narrowly surpass the RS-GP.
Title runner-up Franco Morbidelli may have lost top Yamaha honours to former team-mate Quartararo but the Italian still improved from seventh to fourth on his A-Spec Petronas machine, while Honda test and replacement rider Stefan Bradl made it a top five (featuring four different brands) within 0.270s.
Pramac Ducati’s Johann Zarco and Quartararo’s team-mate Maverick Vinales, fastest earlier in the day, followed on the timesheets with world champion Joan Mir eighth for Suzuki, having finished testing an hour before the end. Miguel Oliveira was again the top KTM, albeit slipping from yesterday’s fifth to eleventh, as former RC16 rider Pol Espargaro finished his first Repsol Honda test in twelfth (+0.733s).
Reigning Moto2 champion Enea Bastianini was the top rookie in 16th place for Avintia Ducati, with Lorenzo Savadori (Aprilia) in 17th, Luca Marini (Avintia VR46) 18th and Jorge Martin (Pramac Ducati) 19th.
Valentino Rossi was surprisingly left behind the rookies in 20th at the end of his debut test for Petronas Yamaha. Countryman Danilo Petrucci was also lower than expected with 21st place on his first test for Tech3 KTM, although still ahead of Red Bull KTM race winner Brad Binder, in 24th.
With the Sepang test cancelled, this weekend was the first time most riders have been on a MotoGP bike since the chequered flag waved at Portimao last November.
The MotoGP regulars were joined by Factory test riders, including Shakedown pace setter Bradl (Honda) – also substituting for the injured Marc Marquez – new Yamaha signing Cal Crutchlow, 31-time MotoGP race winner Dani Pedrosa (KTM) and former World Superbike champion Sylvain Guintoli (Suzuki).
Crutchlow was sharing M1s with Yamaha’s Japanese test riders Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Kohta Nozane. The three bikes, which appear to include both the 2019 (A-Spec) and 2020 (Factory-Spec) models, are labelled ‘#T1’, ‘#T2’ and ‘#T3’. Official timing only lists the bike, not the rider.
Testing took place from 2pm to 9pm each day, followed by ten minutes reserved for practice starts, which revealed many teams now have start/holeshot devices available that lower both the front and rear of their machines, lowering the centre of gravity even further and therefore increasing anti-wheelie off the line.
The second and final pre-season test will be held at the same circuit on March 10-12, also venue for the season-opening race on March 28, then round two on April 4.