Motoette -in forward motion

MotoGP Overview: Qatars’ test 1 & 2

Qatar Test day 1

Just days after the devastating earthquake near the east coast of Honchu, Japan, the first day of the final winter Testing went into full swing at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar. In honor of the shocking disaster, three Honda riders wore black armbands, along with statements of sympathy from other teams to show respect and compassion for the Japanese victims.

The traditional evening raceway provided an excellent forum for the riders to continue on their plight to achieve the ultimate set-up for bike and riders alike. With a radically different track, a few minor crashes and riding under floodlights in the opaque atmosphere. The riders managed to attain a sense of satisfaction in feeling more confident with improvements from a few weeks ago at Sepang.

The Honda teams continued to dominate the top of the leader board with Repsol’s Casey Stoner holding the top spot for almost 5 hours of the 6- 11pm track time until he was passed by his teammate Dani Pedrosa, finishing with the fastest time.

San Carlos Honda Gresini’s Hiroshi Aoyama found his rhythm early on and made an impressive 3rd place crossing over the finish line just three hundredth’s of second behind teammate, Casey Stoner.

Another Honda rider, Andrea Dovizioso placed 7th and walked away pleased despite voicing his opinion on dirty track conditions.

Casey Stoner, 2nd, 1’56.414:
“Everything has gone well with the bike and in general we don’t have a whole lot to test here, we’re just trying to get more out of the balance of the bike – both bikes have the same chassis but we tried very different riding positions. It seems to be more difficult to get a decent lap time on the harder tyres, having made my fastest time on an older soft tyre, but our consistency seems to be very good also with the hardest compound. We’ve been trying to get a little bit more grip and turning out of the bike and work on set-up for this circuit, focusing on race set-up. It’s nice to be so close to the season and at the final test, I’m just pleased the team reached here safely and there were no casualties back in the HRC Headquarters in Saitama, my thoughts are with all the people in Japan.”

Dani Pedrosa, 1st, 1’56.271:
“It was a positive first day of practice. We didn’t test anything in special, because our priority today was checking that the bike was also working well here in Qatar, a very different circuit than Sepang, where we did the main winter testing. We basically worked on the set-up of the bike, to adapt it for this layout and conditions, and tomorrow we will continue working on mappings and a front fork. It seems like the lap times are closer here than in Sepang, and I’m sure that the times will improve for all because at this track the surface is quite dirty at the beginning, so we will see tomorrow and I hope to make another step forward and close the winter test in a good shape. I’d also like to say I’m very sorry about what happened in Japan. My Japanese mechanics and engineers were explaining the situation there and it’s very moving.”

The Yamaha teams were also maintaining command of the time sheets with American rider Ben Spies coming in 4th with a time of 1:56.563. Right behind Spies, was teammate, World Champion, Jorge Lorenzo, charging his M1 over the line with 1:56.682. Colin Edwards brought up the rear of the Yamaha trio just making it under the 1:57 marker with 1:56.742.

Marlboro Ducati’s Valentino Rossi and his compatriot, Nicky Hayden were the only two Desmosedici’s inside the top ten (1:57038 1:57.137). The Italian team decided to run each machine on two different settings in order to ultimately decide which engine to go with on race day. Rossi survived a fall at turn 9 in the first hour unscathed and managed to pull off an 8th ending position and Hayden, coming in close behind in 9th.

Pramac’s Randy De Puniet had a positive ending to a horizontal day after crashing his GP11 twice. He came out unhurt and pleased with a 10th spot.

Valentino Rossi, 8th, 1’57.038:
“It wasn’t bad for a first day. I was able to ride the bike better, and I enjoyed myself. Although I was just eighth, my times aren’t too far from the top: seven tenths is still a big difference, but anyway it’s progress, considering that I did my best time with a very used tyre. We worked well on the settings, even if in a couple of parts of the circuit I’m still not fast enough, and we’ll have to try some more solutions tomorrow. As for the shoulder, I’m happy because I have a little more strength, and that enables me to ride better. Today I also had my first crash on a Ducati, which I naturally did intentionally because after a while, you have to do a little fall… All joking aside, I entered too quickly and lost the front: I was able to pick it up and avoid crashing while I was on the track, but I dropped it in the gravel – no big deal though.”

Nicky Hayden, 9th, 1’57.137:
“Right out of the gate, it wasn’t too bad, and then we were up against a wall for a while. The team made one little change with ride height and I was able to get a decent lap time and get consistent. In parts of the track I felt pretty good, but there are spots where the steering still needs to improve. If we can do better in those areas, we should be able to drop the lap time. I feel a little bit closer than Malaysia, but we certainly need to go quicker tomorrow.”

Pos Rider Team Fastest lap Prev. Gap Lead. Gap Laps
1 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda Team 1:56.271 41
2 Casey Stoner Repsol Honda Team 1:56.414 +0.143 +0.143 32
3 Hiroshi Aoyama San Carlo Honda Gresini 1:56.444 +0.030 +0.173 59
4 Ben Spies Yamaha Factory Racing 1:56.563 +0.119 +0.292 38
5 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Factory Racing 1:56.682 +0.119 +0.411 60
6 Colin Edwards Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1:56.742 +0.060 +0.471 42
7 Andrea Dovizioso Repsol Honda Team 1:56.780 +0.038 +0.509 56
8 Valentino Rossi Ducati Marlboro Team 1:57.038 +0.258 +0.767 57
9 Nicky Hayden Ducati Marlboro Team 1:57.137 +0.099 +0.866 57
10 Randy De Puniet Pramac Racing Team 1:57.143 +0.006 +0.872 39
11 Marco Simoncelli San Carlo Honda Gresini 1:57.226 +0.083 +0.955 57
12 Alvaro Bautista Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1:57.302 +0.076 +1.031 61
13 Hector Barbera Mapfre Aspar Team 1:57.325 +0.023 +1.054 69
14 Loris Capirossi Pramac Racing Team 1:57.437 +0.112 +1.166 56
15 Karel Abraham Cardion AB Motoracing 1:57.499 +0.062 +1.228 49
16 Cal Crutchlow Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1:57.737 +0.238 +1.466 51
17 Toni Elias LCR Honda MotoGP 1:58.250 +0.513 +1.979 65


Qatar Test day 2

The wild winds of March flew on the final pre-season winter testing in Qatar Monday afternoon, just hours before the last session was to commence that evening.  A sandstorm blew through the Middle Eastern Circuit leaving behind a sea of miniscule sand dunes. But that didn’t seem to deter the teams in posting some of the best times and cultivating their riding form for race day this Sunday, March 20th.

It’s clear the Honda teams out performed their contemporaries, consistently finishing on top of the leader board in the 2 months and 8 days of testing. The technical crew along with the riders have worked in harmony to achieve a close to perfect set up for the RC212V machines, which promotes a smoother path into the 2011 MotoGP season kick-off. 

After the intense desert breeze passed, the riders took to the track, improving the surface conditions with every lap ensued.

Former Qatar winner from 2007 – 2009, Repsol Honda’s Casey Stoner came out on top once more feeling extremely confident about his form and riding position. Concentrating on placing his body in a neutral riding position, compared to his decision to ride with his weight shifted more to the rear in Sepang. It proved to be a successful change-up along with the team’s adjustments on the electronics, tyres and race settings.

 Casey Stoner 1st 1’55.681 sec, 46 laps, 247 km.
“I’m really happy, I didn’t think we would get any laps in tonight judging from the weather earlier in the day, it was a little tough but the wind seemed to settle and the track conditions improved a lot and we got some good test time in tonight. By the look of the lap times everyone seems to have taken a big step forward, but we’re happy with what we’ve achieved again here and we can enter the race weekend with confidence but at the same time everyone else will be improving their set-up so we can’t relax.

We found a good rider position which I’m really happy with, having moved my position more towards the rear in Sepang – to try to find more grip, here we can run a more neutral position and everything seems to be working well. We did some more work on electronics tonight and also on the tyres, but generally worked on set-up for the weekend”.

The rest of the Honda team continued to stay true to form in dominating the top spots with teammate Dani Pedrosa coming in right behind the Aussie only .064’s slower over the finish line. Pedrosa was a little concerned about the predominantly granular tarmac after the storm, but was surprised by the solid grip of his Bridgstones and gained confidence as a result. In the process, he tested out a new front fork, electronics and soft vs. hard tyres.

Dani Pedrosa 2nd 1’55.745 sec, 39 laps, 210 km.
“The conditions seemed very difficult when we arrived at the circuit today as it was so windy and on the way here the road was full of sand, but we managed to finally complete a good test today. It was very windy out on track and quite difficult to ride at maximum, but the grip was not so bad. It was cooler than yesterday and we improved our lap times, which is positive.

Today we tried the new front fork, we have continued to work with electronics and have tried both the hard and the softer tyres. We kept the good feeling we had at Sepang, the test here in Qatar also went well in general and we go to the first race with a competitive bike, but for the Grand Prix we will have to keep working hard because nobody will give away anything”.

Yamaha’s Ben Spies stayed right on track and walked away feeling good about the past few days of testing. He spent the better part of the day concentrating on the geometry setting with crew chief Tom Houseworth, working on obtaining extra grip on his M1.

All though succeeding in a few challenges, Spies teammate and current World Champion, Jorge Lorenzo, could not share the same point of view. Battling the cool and gusty atmospheric conditions, Lorenzo found it difficult to find the best setting and settled for an unusual 7th and final position.


Ben Spies, 3rd, 1’56.294:
“It’s been a good Test, I’m happy with it. We tried a few different things today and improved the bike some more. We’ve now got a couple of days to look over the data ready for the four-day weekend, there’ll be plenty more riding opportunities before Sunday. I was pretty confident coming here after Sepang, hopefully we can make the bike even better before the race. Last year we saw that the M1 worked well at every track, it’s Yamaha’s strong point and I think it’s the same this year.”

The dark horse of the evening was San Carlos Honda Gresini’s Marco Simoncelli coming in 4th after having a bad “hair’ day the day before and settled for 11th. Improving his lap time by almost a second, he recaptured his precedence from his impressive track times at Sepang.

Another Honda Repsol rider to forge on, riding the wild wind was Andrea Dovizioso, finalizing his two-day stint in 5th place overall.

The Italian found the whole experience “strange” enduring the wind, sand and dirty track, but managed to make headway improving on cornering with the RC212V set up. Using a hard tyre for most of the session, which he felt could have been a strategic mistake, Dovizioso and his team still remain positive and look on to a competitive first round this weekend.

Both Marlboro Ducati riders Valentino Rossi and Nicky Hayden lower their lap times and are still working hard to play catch-up. Hayden placed 4 positions ahead of his 8 time premiere class World Champion teammate, by stringing some laps at a decent pace on both hard and soft tyres. Unfortunately, he ended his run losing his front end on turn 2 with a crash, where other riders were having the same experience earlier on.

Valentino Rossi mirrored Hayden with a minor low side, when his bike slipped on a white line as a result of the unsettled weather conditions. He also experienced a bout of fatigue as a result from his injured shoulder an hour and half from the finish time. He was making his best time prior, but just could not hold on to the pace and slipped into a final 13th position.

Valentino Rossi (Ducati Marlboro Team) 13th, 1:56.988 (50 laps)

“I’d say that today was pretty challenging: the weather conditions were much tougher than yesterday, and I had another crash when I slipped on a white line. Fortunately, I just fell over on the ground?it was nothing serious. The real problem was that at about an hour and a half from the finish, I started to lose strength in my shoulder, and I just couldn’t push anymore. It’s a shame, because I had just done my best time, and I may have been able to drop it a little more from there. Instead, we didn’t even mount the two soft tyres that we had. I started on a long run, but I stopped because I was losing tenths lap after lap. Let’s say that we’re not as far back as it looks, although we still have a lot of work to do, regarding both the bike and myself, because the shoulder is evidently not yet able to bear two such intense days of testing. Between now and Thursday, I’ll do some light exercise and have it massaged, and then we’ll see.”

Pos Rider Team Fastest lap Prev. Gap Lead. Gap Laps
1 Casey Stoner Repsol Honda Team 1:55.681 46
2 Dani Pedrosa Repsol Honda Team 1:55.745 +0.064 +0.064 39
3 Ben Spies Yamaha Factory Racing 1:56.294 +0.549 +0.613 45
4 Marco Simoncelli San Carlo Honda Gresini 1:56.433 +0.139 +0.752 70
5 Andrea Dovizioso Repsol Honda Team 1:56.439 +0.006 +0.758 58
6 Randy De Puniet Pramac Racing Team 1:56.445 +0.006 +0.764 67
7 Jorge Lorenzo Yamaha Factory Racing 1:56.707 +0.262 +1.026 48
8 Colin Edwards Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1:56.716 +0.009 +1.035 57
9 Nicky Hayden Ducati Marlboro Team 1:56.726 +0.010 +1.045 68
10 Hiroshi Aoyama San Carlo Honda Gresini 1:56.740 +0.014 +1.059 73
11 Hector Barbera Mapfre Aspar Team 1:56.798 +0.058 +1.117 62
12 Alvaro Bautista Rizla Suzuki MotoGP 1:56.931 +0.133 +1.250 63
13 Valentino Rossi Ducati Marlboro Team 1:56.988 +0.057 +1.307 50
14 Loris Capirossi Pramac Racing Team 1:57.345 +0.357 +1.664 62
15 Cal Crutchlow Monster Yamaha Tech 3 1:57.730 +0.385 +2.049 28


This weekend will be the much-anticipated kick-off of the ultimate premier class of motorcycle racing, known as the MotoGP. The season opener will be hosted by the International Losail Circuit in Qatar starting on Thursday, March 17th at 7:55pm local time(19:55) for the FP1 round.

Race day will commence on Sunday, March 20th, starting with the warm-up at 6:00pm (18:00) followed by the race time at 10:00pm (22:00)

March 16, 2011 - Posted by | Alvaro Bautista, Andrea Dovizioso, Ben Spies, Casey Stoner, Colin Edwards, Dani Pedrosa, Ducati, girlracer, Jorge Lorenzo, Loris Capirossi, marco simoncelli, MotoGP, motorcycle racing, motorcycles, Nicky Hayden, Qatar, Randy De Puniet, Sepang, toni elais, Valentino Rossi, Yamaha

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