by Günther Wiesinger
Instead of the cancelled Sepang tests (the test riders’ shakedown was scheduled from February 14-16, the official tests from February 19-21), the eleven MotoGP teams had planned to test in Jerez or Portimão on the same dates. However, a change of plans has been decided today and will be presented to the teams in a ZOOM conference on Thursday. The proposal is that the cancelled Sepang test not be replaced and that the three-day shakedown be moved from Malaysia to Qatar instead.
Aprilia Racing is now the only team that enjoys concessions and it will be able to participate in the shakedown with its official riders alongside the six test riders of the various manufacturers. Aprilia will also use the two Qatar tests to determine which rider between Bradley Smith and Lorenzo Savadori will get the second bike of the team left vacant by Andrea Iannone (banned for 4 years).
Dorna, IRTA and the MSMA manufacturers' association claim valid reasons for this decision. Firstly, the material to be tested at Sepang has already been shipped to Kuala Lumpur, from Japan and Europe, partly by sea to save costs, and all this material cannot be diverted in time to get to Jerez or Portimão. .
Secondly, the 2020 bikes remain homologated for 2021, with MotoGP engine development frozen from March until the end of 2021. The compounds and construction of the Michelin tyres also remain unchanged. Thirdly, many countries are in isolation, in some cases until the end of February, and traveling to Europe and Asia and the Middle East is made much more difficult by the strict quarantine regulations.
For the MotoGP 'rookies' 3 additional days of testing
So, if the factory teams and the private teams agree tomorrow, the factory riders will only have three days of testing. The rookies Jorge Martin, Enea Bastianini and Luca Marini, on the other hand, will have three additional days of testing to get to know their Ducati bikes at the shakedown test.
Assuming that the MotoGP teams reach an agreement, the crates with the material will now be sent by air or sea from Malaysia directly to Doha.
New winter test plan:
Shakedown test in Losail, Qatar: March 5-7
IRTA MotoGP test in Losail, Qatar: March 10-12
Moto2 and Moto3 classes
Jerez test: March 16-18