Extra Qatar MotoGP Test Scheduled To Replace Sepang Test

The cancellation of the MotoGP test at Sepang - a result of the state of emergency imposed by the Malaysian government in response to rising numbers of cases of Covid-19 in the country - threw a spanner in the works for the MotoGP teams preparing for the start of the 2021 season. Losing days of testing meant less time for the MotoGP rookies to acclimatize to the new class, and less track time to gather data for the coming season.

To address this issue, Dorna and IRTA announced that there will be an additional test in Qatar at the beginning of March. In addition to the original test scheduled for March 10th - 12th, there will be three more days of testing a five days earlier. On March 5th, there will be one day of a shakedown test, where the test riders will get to ride the MotoGP machines to ensure they are all working as expected, as well as a chance for the MotoGP rookies - Enea Bastianini, Luca Marini, and Jorge Martin - to get their first taste of a Ducati Desmosedici.

They will be joined by the rest of the MotoGP field on March 6th and 7th, for an official two-day test. The entire paddock will then stay in Qatar for two days, when the originally scheduled three-day test starts on March 10th, until March 12th.

What happens after that is still open to question. GPOne is reporting there is a chance that the season opener, scheduled for March 28th at Qatar, will be moved forward a week to avoid clashing with the first F1 race of the season in Bahrein. That would also make sense in terms of logistics: it would mean that most people could stay in Qatar, rather than risk flying home and finding themselves unable to return should further measures to contain the Covid-19 pandemic be imposed.

That would also set up a chance to replace one of the two races in the Americas, with both Austin and Argentina likely to be dropped from the schedule unless the Covid-19 situation in the US and Argentina changes dramatically. Having a second race in Qatar on consecutive weekends would bring the calendar back up to 19 races, and the addition of a race at Portimao - the most logical place for a replacement race, given its proximity to Jerez and the experience of the circuit in hosting a race last year.

However, nothing is yet certain, and everything is still subject to change. As happened at the height of the Covid-19 pandemic last year, the situation changes almost on a daily basis. The advantage for Dorna, IRTA, the teams, and the factories, is that at least they have a season's worth of experience running MotoGP under a coronavirus protocol. That makes changing plans much easier. But as ever, the coronavirus remains in control.

The press release announcing the change appears below:

Qatar Test schedule updated
Two Official Test days and a Shakedown Test have been added to the calendar

Thursday, 14 January 2021

Following a recent meeting between the Championship organisation and the MotoGP™ Class Teams, changes to the Qatar Test schedule have been agreed. Two extra Official Test days and a Shakedown Test day will now also be held at Losail International Circuit in March, ahead of and in addition to the previously confirmed Qatar Test, allowing the teams extra preparation ahead of the 2021 season.

On the 5th of March, a Shakedown Test will take place in which participation will be limited solely to test riders and MotoGP™ class rookies.

On the 6th and 7th of March, all riders may participate in two extra Official Test days.

The new MotoGP™ class test schedule is therefore as follows:

3rd-4th March: Setup
5th March: Shakedown Test – rookies and test riders only
6th-7th March: Official Test
10th-12th March: Official Test

Any further updates or information will be provided as soon as available.

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Losail grip level and the Yamaha? Valves/wicks/horsepower...big question mark. They should have things back to the late 2019 bike, plus adaptation to the new front tire. Should be ok, but not more than that.

Betting M.Marquez will be at the first round. If not, the 2021 Championship might get a boost. Rehashing the old, admittedly, but his dramatically over taxing freshly screwed in plates was horribly unwise. Just like the crash rate via careening skate-drift style to find the FAR side of the limit. And the Honda designed to do the same, front feel be damned. The whole enterprise has reached it's end. "Turned a corner." Now, we get to see the next chapter. Physics and Darwin are not belief dependent. But disbelief in them makes them quite apparent. And believable. Irony? No, just reality. Pol will do fine, it will be good to see. In the mix but not a title chaser.

Ducati has a revolution new bike for 2022. Refreshed rider lineup. Huge question mark (yet again). Transition time. Not expecting a lot for this season.

KTM is still rising, another step forward can be expected. Very promising set of riders to match their Oranjapanbeater. Brad Binder may be a 2021 stand out. 

Aprilia? Latency period. Stay sane Aleix and Co. Awkward gangly years, you fit at neither the kids' nor adults' table this yr. Get crafty and take a risk on your second rider. Italian Moto3 guy, or catch Dovi on the right morning. Be sure you have better dyno numbers to send them. 

So we all have eyes on Suzuki. The opposite of the Marquez/Honda formula has the top step. Slight evolution and even better carving Bridgestones to sort. Healthy Rins. Mir full of focus and belief. A program "going without and doing it ourselves" post Brivio. Can you nail Q, and maintain 2020 consistency? You really are the one to beat at this point. Monster fueled luck to you and your 2nd Team coming into view. Either Gresini or VR46 are great options. So is dark horse Aqua! Good things ahead for Suzuki. 

Looks a VERY close front pack again. And shifting shape. Not betting on anything more than a good season with a cornucopia of strong rides. 

Ever wondered how cool a motorcycle racer can be? Give 20 seconds to consider that it is at IOM...Ian Hutchinson backing it into a tight right with less than no run off


The press release Honda put out last night was that Marquez had undergone checks and the results were 'satisfactory,' No specifics or time frames for recovery mentioned at all, but the phrasing used would at least indicate everything going in the right direction. Let's hope so at any rate.

My nephew had a crash and smash his hip badly, socket broken, ball smashed. Had a replacement metal hip. He had wires inserted to holds his jaw together. Infection came from the wires. 4 year later his hip as crumbled, socket gone, they took the ball out 2 years ago to help it but no use and he has had an open ulcer weeping for over 3 years where the shit from the hip comes out.

I think Marc should consider his whole life first and even give the season a miss if this is true. Its very problematic to have a bone infect and if this is true, and I hope its not, he will have a loing term problem and any future accidents could just make it worse.

Checking the internet it seems the infection wsa reported in December not this week.

Just to add: there is now a mandatory 7 day quarantine for ALL visitors to Qatar.  They are selling "quarantine packages" at approved hotels - you get 7 nights DB&B but not allowed to leave your room. I am presuming this applies to teams and riders as well, which further extends their "Doha Holiday" -- even in 'normal' years I have heard complaints from riders that spending 2-3 weeks in Qatar is the definition of boredom! 
We (Pole Position Travel) have suspended our tour there until/unless restrictions lift.