Miller takes lap record as MotoGP testing resumes
After two days off, Wednesday welcomed the grid back down to business in Doha as the third day of official MotoGP testing got underway and it was an absolute scorcher. The all-time lap record at Losail fell first courtesy of Fabio Quartararo, but later on Jack Miller hit back to go even quicker.
Miller stormed his way to a 1:53.183 to finish 0.080s ahead, making that a new – although unofficial, since it’s testing – lap record. Maverick Viñales made it two Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP bikes inside the top three in P3, although a couple of tenths further back.
Thankfully for all the riders and teams, the second leg of the Qatar Test was greeted by the best weather conditions they’ve seen since the paddock landed in Doha. The wind wasn’t causing issues, the sun was shining before setting and the riders were raring to get going again after two days on the sidelines.
At Ducati, Miller stole the headlines once again but after seeing the factory riders testing the intriguing new Ducati aero, Johann Zarco was giving it a whirl on Wednesday. Judging by the timesheets the Frenchman was feeling good as he slotted into fourth overall with exactly the same laptime as Pol Espargaro. Zarco was “pretty happy” with the progress being made, and the Frenchman added that the GP21 has “huge potential”.
A little further down the ranks, Enea Bastianini was the fastest rookie in P14, finishing ahead of Alex Marquez, Stefan Bradl and Danilo Petrucci. The reigning Moto2 World Champion was also just 0.120s behind nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi and is settling into MotoGP life very well.
In the Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP camp, a new mudguard and front fork covers were getting put through their paces. Both Quartararo and Viñales were also doing back-to-back runs on the new and old chassis to get some final confirmation on whether any improvements have been made. The factory duo finished P2 and P3, with Viñales completing the most laps of anyone on Day 3. The Spaniard did suffer a crash at Turn 1 but rider ok, and he was also doing plenty of practice starts at the end of pitlane so it was a busy day.
Petronas Yamaha SRT’s Franco Morbidelli and Valentino Rossi both finished outside the top 10 as the Italians ended the day 1.1 and 1.4 seconds adrift of the best time, respectively, but the focus was not time attacks. Rossi’s main concern was the rear grip previously, and The Doctor said that the new chassis was much closer to the 2020 one, rather than the 2019 one.
Down at World Champions Team Suzuki Ecstar, there was an extra set of fairings on the side of their bikes, with Joan Mir and Alex Rins claiming P7 and P8 on the time sheets. Between them, 120 laps were put in by the 2021 GSX-RR as they continue to rattle through their busy testing schedule in Qatar. The big focus so far has been a new chassis and we’re still no nearer to knowing whether Suzuki have fixed their main 2020 Achilles heel – one-lap pace.