Between March 7th-9th, the majority of MotoGP teams will descend on Qatar’s Losail International Circuit – also the host venue for the season-opening Grand Prix – for the last test before the 2014 season commences later this month.
The test, to be staged across three days, will come as a final opportunity for teams to try out new components and race simulation runs before the opening practice session of the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar on Thursday March 20th.
The official riders of factory outfits Repsol Honda Team, newly-named Movistar Yamaha MotoGP and Ducati Team will not be in action this time, following the Tire Safety Test at Phillip Island at which they worked with various tire combinations for Bridgestone. Instead, the Factory Option satellite riders will share the circuit with their Open counterparts.
Monster Yamaha Tech3’s Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro, GO&FUN Honda Gresini’s Alvaro Bautista and LCR Honda MotoGP’s Stefan Bradl will be the only Factory Option representatives present, whereas the so-called ‘battle of the Opens’ will continue between the likes of NGM Mobile Forward Racing’s Aleix Espargaro and Colin Edwards, plus others such as Drive M7 Aspar pairing Nicky Hayden and Hiroshi Aoyama as well as Gresini’s Scott Redding.
PBM will return to action with Michael Laverty and Broc Parkes, having elected to miss the second Sepang test, whereas IodaRacing Project and Danilo Petrucci will make their first on-track appearance of 2014. In the case of Karel Abraham, the Cardion AB Motoracing rider will be hoping to endure less pain with his recovering left shoulder than he did last time out in Malaysia.
The challenge will be somewhat different for Pramac Racing, as Andrea Iannone and Yonny Hernandez are tasked with continuing Ducati’s work after the Italian manufacturer announced that all of its motorcycles will be racing under the Open banner this year. Iannone will arguably have the most critical job, as the Italian is the only one of the Pramac riders using the GP14 motorcycle which Ducati Team riders Andrea Dovizioso and Cal Crutchlow will also be racing this campaign.
Warm conditions are a certainty, although as ever sandstorms remain a threat at the desert-based facility which has featured on the MotoGP calendar since 2004.
Across the course of the test, live timing and frequent video features from the circuit and its surroundings will be available on motogp.com.
The Qatar MotoGP test will run to the following timetable:
Friday 7th March 16:00-23:00 (GMT +3 hours)
Saturday 8th March 16:00-23:00 (GMT +3 hours)
Sunday 9th March 16:00-23:00 (GMT +3 hours)
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Get all the latest news and photos directly from the paddock, plus exclusive videos – which include highlights from every session of every Grand Prix and all the winter tests.Aleix Espargaro, Alvaro Bautista, Andrea Dovizioso, Bradley Smith, Cal Crutchlow, Colin Edwards, Hiroshi Aoyama, MotoGP, Nicky Hayden, Pol Espargaro, Scott Redding, Stefan Bradl, Valentino Rossi