Jerez MotoGP Private Test: Aleix Espargaro Fastest As Test Riders Prepare For Qatar

While most of MotoGP is still in launch mode, the test riders and concession teams have been busy preparing for the 2021 MotoGP season at Jerez. Honda, KTM, and Aprilia have been taking advantage of the warm spring temperatures at the Circuito de Jerez to test their bikes ahead of the first official test of the season at Qatar.

On track are Honda's test rider - and provisional replacement for Marc Marquez, should he not be fit at the start of the season - Stefan Bradl, KTM test rider Dani Pedrosa, and Aprilia's test rider/candidate for a full-time ride, Lorenzo Savadori. As Aprilia are the only factory still with concessions, not yet having scored sufficient podiums to lose their extra testing and development privileges, Aprilia's number one rider Aleix Espargaro is also there, testing the 2021 spec of the Aprilia RS-GP, which includes a new aero package according to the well-informed Italian website

While Stefan Bradl had been quickest on the first day, it was Espargaro who was fastest on day two, the Aprilia rider posting a 1'37.747, according to the Jerez Circuit live timing website. To put that into perspective: in July last year, at the Andalusian Grand Prix (aka Jerez 2), Espargaro posted a time of 1'37.070 in FP3, a time which he would not match during qualifying. This early in the season, that is a promising time.

Stefan Bradl was second fastest on the Honda RC213V, which is said to have a heavily revised chassis for 2021. Dani Pedrosa continued his refinement work for KTM, posting the third fastest time, while Lorenzo Savadori, who has to see off Bradley Smith in the chase for the second Aprilia seat, was fourth fastest. Savadori is still struggling with a shoulder injury, so it should come as no surprise that his best time is over 2 seconds slower than his stablemate Espargaro.

Absent from the test are Ducati, Suzuki, and Yamaha. Michele Pirro has already tested at Jerez for Ducati back in January. Yamaha, meanwhile, won't start testing their new version of the Yamaha M1 until the Qatar test, scheduled to start on March 5th, where Cal Crutchlow will get his first taste of the Yamaha.

The reason for the delay, team manager Maio Meregalli explained during the launch, was the sheer quantity of new parts Yamaha had to test. "We are going to bring a lot of material, and as far as I have been told they don't remember in Japan the last time they have been able to prepare so many parts." Preparing, catalogging, packing, and shipping those parts to Qatar in time for the test was time consuming, leaving no room in the schedule to test earlier.

Monday times

No Rider Bike Time Diff Prev
6 Stefan Bradl Honda RC213V 1:38.968    
141 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia RS-GP21 1:38.975 0.007 0.007
41 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia RS-GP21 1:39.196 0.228 0.221
26 Dani Pedrosa KTM RC16 1:39.209 0.241 0.013
32 Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia RS-GP21 1:40.679 1.711 1.470
132 Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia RS-GP21 1:42.385 3.417 1.706

Tuesday times

No Rider Bike Time Diff Prev
41 Aleix Espargaro Aprilia RS-GP21 1:37.747    
6 Stefan Bradl Honda RC213V 1:38.289 0.542 0.542
26 Dani Pedrosa KTM RC16 1:38.607 0.860 0.318
32 Lorenzo Savadori Aprilia RS-GP21 1:39.869 2.122 1.262
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...they could be sandbagging. It wouldn't be the first time. And lots of parts could be good: means there are lots of ideas, some of which might work.

We can expect Yamaha to show at Qatar ready to do the business in earnest. 

Of additional note, not yet openly talked about much, looks like Smith has left Aprilia. His social media posted "Don't look back" and a Yamaha race prepped R3. Weird, yes, but not something you do while employed by Aprilia. Something else came out saying that Aprilia was preferring Savadori for the race seat, and leaving the door open for another Test rider, in effect letting him know that the door was there for him to use if he opted to. 

I think we are going to see immediate steps forward for Yamaha and Honda. Ducati and Suzuki staying about as they were. KTM continuing the steady rise over time. (Next yr Ducati making the big steps forward when they get the 2022 bike on the new front tire).

Not betting against Yamaha this yr in anywhere but the speed traps and the bogey track or two. Back to their usual. 

Marc back and fast straight off, after the first couple rounds at worst.

I hadn't picked that up, about Bradders. He comes across as such a nice guy and you have to feel for him. Perhaps he should do a Redding, cross over to BSB or WSBK and have more of a chance to truly shine. It can't be at all good for your confidence or ego to be told, every time you swing a leg over the bike, that this might be the last time you do so. However, this is the apex of the sport, with just a handful of seats and dozens of riders to choose from, so it'll always be pretty cut-throat.

My jury is out on MM93. Chances are it'll be just as you say; he's young enough to still believe he's immortal and indestructible; though old enough to know better. He has absolutely nothing to prove so it all comes down to how driven he is to continue.

it says pretty plainly in the article that the reason for the delay is that it's taking longer to catgalog, prepare, pack, and ship all the parts. They're not just tossing stuff into a bunch of RubberMaid containers, you know. They're sending a record number of physical peices of various sizes, shapes, weights, fragility, and values on a trans-continental journey in the middle of a pandemic. The logistics for the travel alone, never mind the act of creating the parts to begin with and everything else that comes before the plane gets loaded, must be fascinatingly complex.