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Qatar MotoGP test: Quartararo takes charge on day two

Petronas Yamaha’s Fabio Quartararo took charge of the day-two Qatar MotoGP timesheets, grazing the 1’53s barrier to head yesterday’s fastest man Alex Rins by 0.162s.

Quartararo put in his 1’54.038 on his 52nd lap of 65 for the day while Rins was also quickest on his 52nd but he did 12 laps less. Like yesterday, Maverick Vinales was third quickest on the Monster Yamaha and only 0.064s further back.

In the Yamaha camp, things are looking pretty good if you glance at the timesheets. Quartararo shot to the top with just over an hour and a half of today remaining with the best time of the test, with team-mate Franco Morbidelli claiming fourth and Valentino Rossi bagging ninth. Quartararo commented that he has a better day than he did on Saturday, however the Iwata factory are having some troubles with engine braking.


One team who won’t be benefiting from a holeshot device at the opening race is Suzuki Ecstar. Alex Rins and Joan Mir were the men to beat yesterday in Qatar but both had a bumpier ride today with crashes for the duo at turn one and six. Nevertheless, the two Spaniards looked in good shape on the whole as they continued to test the new GSX-RR chassis, as well as some electronic, rear shock and new Michelin tyre testing.

Ducati were again using their revolutionary ride height adjuster, with Jack Miller (Pramac Racing) admitting that he’d been using the device for a number of races – and that it’s a big help. It’s also worth noting the GP20’s superior top speed, with Miller describing it as a “rocketship” – the Ducatis topping the timesheets with relative ease.

In terms of the timesheets,Pecco Bagnaia (Pramac Racing) was the leading Desmosedici for the last couple of hours, the sophomore briefly sitting top spot with two hours remaining as the Italian eventually finished fifth, but he says he needs five tenths to stick with the lead guys in terms of race pace. More grip on the exit is what Bagnaia is looking for most.

Johann Zarco (Reale Avintia Racing) impressed again to sit as the second fastest Ducati in sixth. Factory’s Danilo Petrucci said he was pretty happy with his pace, the Italian doing 11 laps on a used tyre and getting into the low 1'55s. Petrucci finished P12 on the timesheets, with teammate Andrea Dovizioso  eighth. The latter said he’s pretty happy with his race pace, but admits there is work to be done to match the Yamahas and Suzukis.

Over at Honda, reigning World Champion Marc Marquez suffered a crash at turn nine. Thankfully he was unhurt but at the end of Day 1, the number 93 admitted he’s suffering more here with his shoulder than he was at the Sepang Test. Honda, in general, seem to be struggling in Qatar, Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda Castrol) also crashed, turn two the corner with the British rider heading to the medical centre afterwards. This ultimately ended Crutchlow’s day, the number 35 suffering significant swelling to his forearm which caused him to be unable to move his fingers immediately after the crash. He and the team decided it was best to not ride again on Sunday, hopefully Crutchlow will be on track on Monday for the final day of testing.

Front-end feel for the two experienced riders is the main problem, with rookie Alex Marquez (Repsol Honda Team) also experiencing some issues. The reigning Moto2 World Champion has been feeling under the weather but he was happier with how today went compared to day one. Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda Idemitsu) ended the second day as the fastest Honda rider in P10, the Japanese rider enjoying a decent day as he continues to recover from shoulder surgery, with the injury feeling better than it did on Day 1. All in all, a big Day 3 lies ahead for the HRC riders.

There was big news on Sunday for Aprilia as they confirmed Lorenzo Savadori as their new MotoGP test rider. Aleix Espargaro’s  targets were working on electronics and setting up the engine, as well as trying to figure out why the new RS-GP started suffering in the cooler temperatures – vital for race day in Qatar. And by the sounds of it, Espargaro found something in the cooler temperatures, describing his feeling as “extremely good” at 7pm. The Spaniard did have a crash on Sunday at turn four, thankfully he was ok.

Bradley Smith was focusing on the RS-GP’s endurance for the race, the British rider completing 52 laps as the Noale marque continue to learn important information about their new machine.

In the KTM camp, it seems the four riders are pretty much set on the new fairing they’ll be using. Pol Espargaro admitted they haven’t been going for an outright lap time so far in Qatar, the Spaniard was P13 on the timesheets on Day 2 – 0.852 shy. Working on the new Michelin rear tyre was a must today for the Austrian factory and speaking after Day 2’s action, Red Bull KTM Tech 3 rookie Iker Lecuona admitted he was really happy, the Spaniard completed a race simulation run but knows he still needs to improve in every area.

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