Ducati’s raft of MotoGP rookies have taken to the track for the first time today despite difficult conditions at Doha.
Pramac’s Jorge Martin, Sky VR46’s Luca Marini and, albeit slightly late to the party, Avintia Esponsorama’s Enea Bastianini all enjoyed their debut experience on prototype machinery this afternoon as the 2021 shakedown test got underway, despite strong winds delaying proceedings in Qatar.
Initial fears earlier this week that Bastianini would miss the opening day of action due to a non-conclusive Covid-19 test eventually proved unfounded as the 23-year-old was cleared to fly at the last minute, arriving in Doha on Thursday and clearing the local quarantine period in time to join Friday’s evening action.
Speaking trackside ahead of testing commencing, Marini was understandably excited but seemed to be taking it all in his stride.
“I’m just feeling amazing. It’s a great feeling to be here, first time I will try the MotoGP bike. It’s a little bit strange but I want to start very soon. I remember I’ve dreamt so many times this winter of that moment, the moment that I try the bike for the first time so for sure it will be special. I hope also to be fast and feel great on the bike.
“I just want to feel comfortable on the bike and have a good feeling and try to be fast. Taking my time, for sure, and doing things step-by-step. I spoke a lot with all the Ducati guys and they told me so many things I have to learn. I’m ready and just want to enjoy this moment.”
Marini joins the Avintia garage, alongside Moto2 champion Bastianini, for 2021 but with Sky VR46 sponsorship and connections, so how was he feeling about his new team?
“In my opinion the team is very good. The feeling is very nice with all the group and also the Ducati guys, from Gigi Dall’Igna, Tardozzi, Ciabatti, they are very, very close to me. We are speaking a lot and they are trying to pass me all the knowledge of this bike and this category, so for sure, also with my crew chief, we can work very well and we try to learn very quickly all the new stuff.”
The move from Moto2 sees the young Italian facing the prospect of a much more demanding MotoGP machine but while the pandemic restrictions have curtailed on-track testing, until now, the longer winter period has provided a consistent training period off-track.
“I did some changes on the preparation, especially physically, because I need more strength. In Moto2 it was very important to be less weight but now I can push a little bit harder, also in the gym, so now I’m feeling in good shape and I think that I will be ready. For sure after trying the bike I can try to adapt better the physical preparation, knowing in which area I need to work more. Also I ride in the ranch with all the VR46 Academy, we spent a lot of good times this winter, everybody is ready to start.”
The last of Ducati’s debutants, 2018 Moto3 champion, Martin, was equally “super excited” to get his hands on the Desmosedici.
“It’s difficult to say my feelings because I don’t know what to expect. I don’t want to think too much, I want to go on the track and try ‘the beast’, the Ducati. All the team and all the Ducati people are saying that I have to be really relaxed. I’m not expecting anything special, just to go and enjoy.
“The conditions will be not so good on the track, so just try to enjoy, try to get a good position on the bike and we will wait for the other riders on Saturday.
“We don’t want to change anything on the bike, we just want to make laps, get a comfortable position on the bike, this is super important to start working for the next days.”
With less than an hour left of play, Bastianini sits fastest of the eager trio, just eight tenths shy of Ducati test rider Michele Pirro, with Martin hard on his wheels, 0.067 adrift.