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Downpour Disrupts Final Day of Testing in Qatar


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.”

Premature conclusion to Qatar test as rain halts Tech3 riders

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.”

Torrential rail halts the third day of testing in Doha

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.”

Combined Session Times
1. Andrea Dovizioso (ITA), Ducati Team, 1:54.907
2. Marc Marquez (SPA), Repsol Honda Team, 1:55.091
3. Andrea Iannone (ITA), Ducati Team, 1:55.104
4. Jorge Lorenzo (SPA), Movistar Yamaha MotoGP, 1:55.500
5. Valentino Rossi (ITA), Movistar Yamaha MotoGP, 1:55.581
6. Dani Pedrosa (SPA), Repsol Honda Team, 1:55.582
7. Cal Crutchlow (GBR), CWM LCR Honda, 1:55.624
8. Bradley Smith (GBR), Monster Yamaha Tech3, 1:55.648
9. Pol Espargaro (SPA), Monster Yamaha Tech3, 1:55.658
10. Aleix Espargaro (SPA), Team Suzuki Ecstar, 1’55.698

21. Stefan Bradl (GER), Athina Forward Racing, 1’56.724
23. Loris Baz (FRA), Athina Forward Racing, 1’56.936

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