It has been a long, long stay for the MotoGP paddock in Qatar. The first group arrived in the first days of March, for the first MotoGP test starting on March 5th. Then another three-day test starting on March 10th. Then the Moto2 and Moto3 tests, from March 19th to 21st. A week later the first Grand Prix weekend, and the first races on March 28th. And finally, on Sunday, April 4th, the second round of the season at Qatar. The MotoGP riders have spent 11 days riding around the Losail International Circuit. The Moto2 and Moto3 riders a "mere" nine days.
Everyone is very, very over being in Qatar. There is nothing left to learn at the track, despite the incredibly fickle nature of the conditions created by the (media- and PR-driven) need to hold the race at night. For some teams and riders, there was very little to learn there in the first place. Was there anything KTM had learned that would be useful in Portimão and Jerez, I asked Miguel Oliveira. "Nothing. It was simple and clear," the Red Bull KTM rider responded, clearly interested only in going home after so many weeks away. He wasn't the only one.
With no MotoGP next weekend, we can afford to take a step back and take a longer look at the events of both race weekends in a wider context. I will do that in the coming week, and for tonight, just cover a few initial thoughts on the second MotoGP round in Qatar as briefly and succinctly as is possible for someone who finds writing anything under 4,000 words a challenge. But here goes.
So in this first batch of subscriber notes from Qatar:
- Race was fast and close, why?
- KTM's big step
- A Yamaha or Ducati track?
- Ducati's curious conundrum
- Miller vs Mir
- Winners and losers from the second round
- Rookie sensations
- Pit lane penalties
But first, the MotoGP race. It produced the closest MotoGP race through the field in history, and by a massive margin. The top ten were covered by just 5.382 seconds. The previous closest top 10 was Brno 2018, where 8.326 seconds separated Andrea Dovizioso in first from Andrea Iannone, then on the Suzuki, in tenth. The top 15 at Qatar 2 were separated by just 8.928 seconds, almost the same time that covered ten riders at Brno in 2018. The previous top 15 record was Qatar 2019, when 15.093 seconds covered Andrea Dovizioso through to Johann Zarco.
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