story and photos courtesy of MotoGP
Between Friday 7th and Sunday 9th March, 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 and on each of them during the period of late afternoon to early evening, 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 20th March.
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 Tyre Safety Test at Phillip Island at which they worked with various tyre 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.