2021 Qatar MotoGP Test Results

Rennie Scaysbrook | March 12, 2021

Day Five

The final day of MotoGP pre-season testing was mostly a non-event, as high winds saw sand from the surrounding desert blown onto the track for the majority of the day.

In all, there were only five riders who ventured out to post a time—KTM’s Brad Binder and Danilo Petrucci, and Honda’s Pol Espargaro, Takaaki Nakagami, and test rider Stefan Bradl.

2021 Qatar MotoGP Test Results Petrucci
Danilo Petrucci kicks up the sand in Qatar. Only five riders ventured out on track for a lap time.

Everyone else stayed in the pits aside from Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo and Maverick Vinales, who both took to the track to complete a few practice starts but didn’t post a lap time.

Petrucci completed nine laps in total would be the leader at the end of the day, posting a 1:58.157, nearly nine seconds off Jack Miller’s record time from Day Three.

“I’m pleased with the progress here at the Losail International Circuit,” said Petrucci. “Unfortunately, we couldn’t use this final day. Anyway, we have some clear ideas about what we need. I’m also very happy about the work with the team and the environment. Of course, we still need to improve, because our goal is to fight at the top. For the race weekend, we will start from zero, so I’m optimistic to begin this new adventure.”

2021 Qatar MotoGP Test Results Vinales
Vinales did a few practice starts but no lap time.

Bradl came home second after only three laps on track with a 1:59.432, ahead of Nakagami, the Japanese rider logging the most of all with 12 laps and finishing 1.657 seconds off Petrucci’s pace. Binder came home fourth from Espargaro, the duo completing nine and eight laps, respectively.

Round one of the 2021 MotoGP World Championship will be held in Qatar, the first of a doubleheader weekend, on March 28.

2021 Qatar MotoGP Test Results—Day Five

1 Danilo Petrucci KTM 1:58.157  
2 Stefan Bradl Hon +1.275  
3 T. Nakagami Hon +1.657  
4 Brad Binder KTM +2.984  
5 Pol Espargaro Hon +3.146  

Day Four

Monster Energy’s Maverick Vinales has taken top spot on Day Four of the 2021 Qatar MotoGP preseason test at the Losail International Circuit, heading Petronas Yamaha’s Franco Morbidelli and teammate Fabio Quartararo.

Vinales completed 58 laps of the Qatari venue and finished with a 1:53.224, admitting there are still a few points to work on before the Qatar season opener.

2021 Qatar MotoGP Test Results Day Four Vinales
Maverick Vinales took his turn at the front on Day Four in Qatar.

“We know we can be very fast over one lap but we are still working hard to find the (race) rhythm,” said Vinales. “I need to improve the first laps with the tire which is really important with a full tank. Tomorrow I will do a long run, close to a full race, but what we need is to improve the start and push like hell. This is our main point we need to work on.”

Ducati’s new factory pilot Francesco Bagnaia was the first of the Bologna machines home on Day Four, taking fourth place overall, 0.200 seconds from Vinales. Bagnaia headed Aprilia’s Aleix Espargaro as the Spaniard continues his impressive preseason form with another top five finish, 0.396 seconds from compatriot Vinales.

2021 Qatar MotoGP Test Results Day Four Bagnaia
Francesco Bagnaia was the top Ducati rider in fourth.

The factory Suzuki’s of Joan Mir and Alex Rins were next, ahead of the steadily improving Valentino Rossi, who recorded his best result of the test so far in eighth on the Petronas Yamaha. Rounding out the top 10 was the first Pramac Ducati of Johann Zarco, with Honda’s Pol Espargaro in 10th.

Day Three’s pacesetter Jack Miller (Ducati Team) was 11th on Day Four, 1.103 seconds off Vinales’ pace.

The test is once again proving a tough one for the KTM factory, with the best placed of their four riders being South Africa’s Brad Binder in 16th. Binder’s teammate Miguel Oliveira finished the day in 18th, one place ahead of Tech3 KTM’s Danilo Petrucci. Petrucci’s teammate Iker Lecuona was 22nd.

2021 Qatar MotoGP Test Results Day Four Rossi
Valentino Rossi’s pace is getting better each day, the Doctor finishing Day Four in eighth.

Top rookie for Day Three went to Pramac Ducati’s Jorge Martin in 14th, one place ahead of Moto2 World Champion Enea Bastianini on the Esponsarama Avintia Ducati.

2021 Qatar MotoGP Test Results—Day Four

1 Maverick Vinales Yam 1:53.244
2 F. Morbidelli Yam +0.079
3 F. Quartararo Yam +0.154
4 F. Bagnaia Duc +0.200
5 Aleix Espargaro Apr +0.396
6 Joan Mir Suz +0.583
7 Alex Rins Suzuki +0.616
8 Valentino Rossi Yam +0.749
9 Johann Zarco Duc +0.812
10 Pol Espargaro Hon +0.859

Day Three

Jack Miller smashed the outright lap record at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar on the third day of pre-season testing for the 2021 MotoGP World Championship.

The Australian was on the pace throughout the day, leading Honda’s Pol Espargaro by the halfway point before blasting to a 1:53.183 as he continued testing Ducati’s new aerodynamic fairing, which many believe is Ducati’s first attempt at a ground effect design.

2021 Qatar MotoGP Test Results Miller
Miller crushed the lap record at Qatar on Day Three.

“Today, the conditions were excellent and permitted us to set very quick lap times: there was no wind, the track was clean, and even the humidity levels were perfect,” Miller said. “We didn’t really focus too much on the “time attack”, but we worked on improving every area of the bike. We are trying to gain some rear grip in the third sector, where we are still struggling. Today I rode mainly with the new fairing, which I feel really good with.”

Miller headed Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo, the day two pacesetter a mere 0.080 seconds behind his close friend despite having a top speed deficit of seven miles per hour.

2021 Qatar MotoGP Test Results Quartararo second
Fabio Quartararo still finished the day in second despite lacking top speed compared to the Ducati’s.

“I’m so happy about my lap. It’s one of the best laps I’ve ever done,” Quartararo enthused. “Today we tried many things and made a big step with our pace on the last runs. In general today was a good day. Here is one of the tracks where I’m a little bit scared because we still need to fix some issues with the bike that I don’t feel great overtaking people. We need to make that step because on the straight unfortunately if there is a Ducati here they will overtake us.”

Third for the day went to Quartararo’s teammate Maverick Vinales, 0.327 seconds off Miller, with the top five rounded out by Pramac Ducati’s Johann Zarco and the improving Pol Espargaro (Repsol Honda).

2021 Qatar MotoGP Test Results Espargaro improving
Pol Espargaro’s adaptation to the Honda is going better than even he expected.

“Today was another really good day, speaking honestly the progress has been better than I was expecting,” Espargaro said, who has spent the last four seasons riding the steel-framed KTM RC16. “It’s coming naturally and I am finding and understanding the limits more and more. Still there are some tenths to find over the fast lap, but we are making big steps, I was eight tenths faster today, so it means we are constantly changing our references and we are always learning.”

2021 Qatar MotoGP Test Results—Day Three

1 Jack Miller Duc 1’53.183
2 Fabio Quartararo Yam +0.080
3 Maverick Vinales Yam +0.327
4 Johann Zarco Duc +0.716
5 Pol Espargaro Hon +0.716
6 Aleix Espargaro Apr +0.788
7 Joan Mir Suz +0.895
8 Alex Rins Suz +0.960
9 F.Bagnaia Duc +1.053
10 Takaaki Nakagami Hon +1.079

Day Two

The 2021 MotoGP World Championship began in earnest in the desert of Qatar for the opening test of the season over March 5-7.

The three days were packed with every regular MotoGP protagonist and the associated test riders for each manufacturer on track, and it would be three-time 2020 race winner Fabio Quartararo on his new Monster Energy Factory Yamaha who would lead the times overall, posting a 1:53.940 after 59 laps on Day Two.

2021 Qatar MotoGP Test Results Quartararo Combined
Quartararo didn’t let a 15th place on Day One get him down by blasting to the top of the charts on Day Two.

Quartararo admitted he felt “totally lost” when readjusting to his MotoGP machine after spending the winter riding a Yamaha YZF-R1 streetbike in training, finishing down the order in 15th on Day One but improving dramatically on Day Two. Due to the ban on engine development due to Covid-19 for 2021, Quartararo’s time came on a machine that’s quite similar to the one he raced in Petronas colors last year.

“I’ve been doing a lot of training in the off-season, motocross and also flat track, but riding a MotoGP bike is a different story,” Quartararo said. “I am looking forward to some days off now so the blisters on my hands can heal. Still, I am so happy that we get to ride again in two days, because I am enjoying it so much! We improved the pace, that’s something really positive that we take away from today. The feeling is great, and I made good lap times. We will use these upcoming two days off to look at the data and decide on the next steps.”

Quartararo headed fellow 2021 factory team debutant Jack Miller (Ducati Team). The Australian was consistently at the pointy-end of the test, having spent the majority of Day Two evaluating new aero changes on his GP21.

2021 Qatar MotoGP Test Results Miller Combined
Miller has found a happy home in the factory Ducati team.

“Today I lapped mainly with the new fairing: the sensations are very positive, and the bike seems more stable,” Miller said. “Despite the regulation restrictions, the team has done a fantastic job over the winter! For now, as is often the case here in Qatar, we are all very close, and we will be even closer at the end of these two tests.”

Third place overall after two days of testing went to an ecstatic Aleix Espargaro on the factory Gresini Aprilia. The Spaniard topped Day One on his team’s first public outing since the death of team owner Fausto Gresini due to Covid-19, and continued his pace on Day Two to finish just 0.212 seconds off Quartararo in third.

“We made a big step forward as the bike is a lot more stable and also the aerodynamic side they did a big, big job,” Espargaro said. “The bike is completely different. In acceleration I feel that we made one improvement and the bike has a lot more downforce, so the bike is really physical, more than last season’s bike.”

2021 Qatar MotoGP Test Results Espargaro Combined
Espargaro was flying on the new and improved Aprilia RS-GP to take the fastest time on Day One and third on Day Two.

Espargaro headed 2020 runner-up Franco Morbidelli on the Petronas Sprinta Yamaha and HRC test rider Stefan Bradl in the overall timings.

Pramac Ducati debutant Johann Zarco made an impressive showing in sixth place, bettering the second factory Yamaha of Maverick Vinales by 0.107 seconds at the end of Day Two.

World Champion Joan Mir (Ecstar Suzuki) was third on Day One but dropped to eighth on Day Two as he spend the second evening swapping chassis between his 2020-title winning unit and the ’21 he will use this year, as well as various electronic settings.

“It was a tough day because we tried lots of new things such as the new spec,” Mir said. Chassis items, some things with the electronics, and some tires. We tried to find the best way forward and I’m happy with the performance, and my lap times so far. The team and I have done a really good job, the test has been positive, and for sure we feel prepared for the next three days of testing at the end of next week.”

2021 Qatar MotoGP Test Results Nakagami Combined
Nakagami came home 13th on Day Two. There is much expected of the Japanese this year.

Mir headed Ducati factory team debutant Francesco Bagnaia and his own Suzuki teammate, Alex Rins.

It proved to be a tough test for the KTM factory with Miguel Oliveira the fastest of the orange riders in 11th, 0.726 seconds from Quartararo. Red Bull KTM teammate Brad Binder came home in 17th, with Tech3 KTM debutant Danilo Petrucci 22nd and Iker Lecuona on the second Tech3 machine down in 24th.

Moto2 World Champion Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsarama Ducati) was top rookie after the two days, posting a very respectable 1:55.486 to finish 16th, 1.546 seconds from Quartararo. Second in the rookie fight was Bastianini’s teammate, Luca Marini in 20th, just one place behind his half-brother Valentino Rossi in 19th. The third rookie, Jorge Martin on the second Pramac Ducati, finished in 21st.

Pol Espargaro’s highly publicized debut with Repsol Honda saw the Spaniard take 17th on day One but improve to 12th on Day Two as he adjusts to the RC213V after four years on the Red Bull KTM.

The next round of MotoGP testing will be held back at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar starting this Wednesday, March 10.

2021 Qatar MotoGP Test Results—Combined

1 Fabio Quartararo Yam 1:53.940
2 Jack Miller Duc +0.077
3 Aleix Espargaro Apr +0.212
4 Franco Morbidelli Yam +0.213
5 Stefan Bradl Hon +0.270

The below is from motogp.com

2021 has started perfectly for Aleix Espargaro and Aprilia Racing Team Gresini as they finish P1 on Day 1 at the Official MotoGP™ Qatar Test. The Spaniard set a 1:54.687 to beat Stefan Bradl (Honda Test Team) by 0.256s, with reigning World Champion Joan Mir (Team Suzuki Ecstar) completing the top three as the new MotoGP™ season officially kicked off.

The wind was once more playing a role in proceedings as the moment every MotoGP™ fan has been waiting for arrived: the entire grid hopping on their bikes and heading for a ride for the first time since Portimao’s curtain closer. All 29 riders on the ground in Doha enjoyed some valuable track time despite another blustery day at the Losail International Circuit, with Michelin confirming that by 5pm local time, track conditions were starting to come to the riders.

Espargaro in Qatar
Aleix Espargaro raised a few eyebrows with the fastest time on Day One of the 2021 Qatar MotoGP Test.

After sitting out the Shakedown Test, Aleix Espargaro was putting in the work on his brand-new RS-GP machine and completed 57 laps. The whole bike we’re seeing is new, with Aprilia updating the engine, chassis, exhausts, a carbon swingarm and the Noale outfit also have two new aero designs that the riders are testing to see which is better. Finishing P1 is a very promising start to the season and Espargaro’s time was just a couple of tenths shy of Aprilia’s best time at 2020’s Qatar Test, with Espargaro also displaying that Aprilia have holeshot device on the front and rear – along with Honda and Ducati. Promising stuff for the Italian marque as Lorenzo Savadori, on the other side of the garage, completed 42 laps, ending with 1:56.511 as a best time.

It was a huge day over at Repsol Honda Team as Pol Espargaro made his eagerly awaited debut for the Japanese giants. A hefty 68 laps were rattled off by the Spaniard on his HRC debut as both he, Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol) and Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) were all on 2020 Hondas, with each rider’s two bikes having different exhausts.

Test rider Stefan Bradl was again donning the famous Repsol livery on track and for a lot of opening day, the German was at the summit of the timesheets. Bradl has three chassis to try in Qatar: the ‘standard’ 2020 chassis, the chassis Bradl ended the 2020 campaign on which has carbon bonded to the main beam, and HRC also have an entirely new chassis that we saw the number 6 testing in Jerez a few weeks ago. Bradl was very pleased with his and the team’s progress so far, more of the same over the remaining four days.

Jack Miller 2021 Qatar MotoGP Test
Miller went P4 on his factory Ducati debut.

Alex Marquez’ day didn’t get off to the best of starts after destroying his RC213V in a final corner crash, but the double World Champion was soon back out to spin some more laps. Marquez was second quickest Honda on Day 1, finishing P10, just ahead of Nakagami in P11.

Over at World Champions Team Suzuki Ecstar, who officially unveiled their new Monster Energy-backed 2021 livery ahead of the test, Joan Mir and Alex Rins were the last riders to head out on track. Similar to most teams though, we didn’t see many changes to the bikes the Spaniards were riding at the minute. Third for Mir is a solid start to his title defending season, with Rins also inside the top 10 – P8 for the 2020 bronze medallist. The duo recorded a combined 91 laps.

Test rider Sylvain Guintoli told us that during the Shakedown Test, he was testing a 2022 engine spec as well as a new chassis, along with some other small bits. Takuya Tsuda was again the first rider out on track for the Hamamatsu factory.

Both Jack Miller and Francesco Bagnaia suited up and headed out in Ducati Lenovo Team red for the first time, the latter did unfortunately have a tumble at Turn 3 but all was good with the Italian. For the Australian, fourth fastest at the end of the day was a job well done it seems, Miller completing 54 laps in total and admitted that it felt “unreal” to be back. Both riders were on 2020 Ducatis as they got back into the swing of things but did try the new aero, with Miller saying he couldn’t find any faults. Bagnaia finished P13 but was only 0.8s down on Espargaro’s best time.

2021 Qatar MotoGP Test Results Day One Morbidelli
Morbidelli was the top Yamaha rider in P7.

Test rider Michele Pirro was circulating with new aero on the front of his GP21, a third extra aero vane was seen fitted lower down on the fairing. In addition, Ducati have a ‘salad box’ that looks slightly different to last year’s one. Simon Crafar reported that the Bologna factory are experimenting with a holeshot device at the front of the bike, along with Aprilia and Honda, so look out for that over the coming days.

Johann Zarco was seen in Pramac Racing colours for the first time and from the outside, it looked like the Frenchman enjoyed his first day in the new office. Zarco was atop the standings for stages in the afternoon, eventually ending Saturday 6th overall with less than half a second covering him from Espargaro at the top. Zarco’s teammate Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) was back on track for his second day as a MotoGP™ rider, albeit with a sore leg after his Turn 3 crash during the Shakedown Test. Despite this though, Martin was the fastest rookie in P18 after setting a 1:56.147 – just a couple of tenths slower than Pol Espargaro ahead of him. Speaking on After the Flag, Martin was very happy with his day’s work.

2021 Qatar MotoGP Test Results Day One Oliveira
Oliveira’s factory debut for KTM saw the Portuguese go P5.

The other two Moto2™ graduate rookies also got plenty more laps under their belts, Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama Racing) was less than a tenth away from Martin in P20 while Luca Marini (SKY VR46 Avintia) finished P24 on the times. It’s a huge learning curve for all three riders in Qatar and there’s no doubt even more improvements will be coming over the next few days.

Over in the Yamaha ranks Valentino Rossi was on board a familiar bike, but in unfamiliar colours. The new Petronas Yamaha SRT rider began his new adventure with the Malaysian team and The Doctor was seen trying two different tank covers, most likely for ergonomics. It was teammate Franco Morbidelli though who was the quickest YZR-M1 rider on Day 1, the Italian finished P7 and 0.487s adrift.

It was a big day for Fabio Quartararo too, who officially began life as a factory MotoGP™ rider today at the Losail International Circuit. The Frenchman was the busiest rider out there on Saturday after completing 69 laps on his new machine, he was just over a second off the pace in P15 – one place behind Rossi. Maverick Viñales (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP) notched up half a ton of laps, the Spaniard was P9.

On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be too much different to what we saw last season on the Yamahas currently. Test riders Cal Crutchlow, Katsuyuki Nakasuga and Kohta Nozane were once more sharing bikes, so it’s very hard to tell who set the fastest times on each of the bikes labelled ‘Yamaha Test 1’, ‘Yamaha Test 2’ and ‘Yamaha Test 3’ on the timing screens.

2021 Qatar MotoGP Test Results Day One Mir
P3 for World Champion Joan Mir on Day One.

Red Bull KTM Factory Racing’s Brad Binder and Miguel Oliveira lead the line for the Austrian manufacturer this year, with the duo both sitting near the summit in the early stages of the test. Binder fell at the notorious Turn 2 but was perfectly ok to head back for some more laps, 52 were completed by the South African in the end, he sits P12 after the opening day. Oliveira was the fastest RC16 rider on track, the Portuguese star set a 1:55.084 to finish 5th.

Danilo Petrucci struck a bright figure out on track alongside teammate Iker Lecuona as the Tech3 KTM Factory Racing pairing lapped on their new orange covered RC16s. Likewise to the factory riders, there weren’t too many differences with the bikes they were riding compared to the 2020 model, as Lecuona and Petrucci finished P22 and P23 respectively.

Test rider Dani Pedrosa was trying out some new innovations for KTM though. As Simon Crafar reported from pitlane, Pedrosa was riding an RC16 kitted out with a new chassis, a whole new tail section and a new exhaust inside that tail unit. The famous number 26 was 26th on the timesheets and completed 48 laps.

2021 Qatar MotoGP Test Results—Day One

1 Aleix Espargaro (Apr) 1:54.687
2 Stefan Bradl (Hon) + 0.256
3 Joan Mir (Suz) + 0.293
4 Jack Miller (Duc) + 0.335
5 Miguel Oliveira (KTM) + 0.397
6 Johann Zarco (Duc) + 0.423
7 Franco Morbidelli (Yam) + 0.487
8 Alex Rins (Suz) + 0.511
9 Maverick Viñales (Yam) + 0.572
10 Alex Marquez (Hon) + 0.591

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Rennie Scaysbrook | Road Test Editor Rennie Scaysbrook is our Road Test Editor. A lifetime rider, the Aussie made the trek across the Pacific to live the dream in the U.S. of A. Likes puppies and wheelies.