The MotoGP round cancelled in Qatar has thrown up a number of scenarios and one of these concerns purely the technical aspect. In particular, we are referring to the engines that just on the eve of the Losail race, had to be punched in line with the existing regulation, and then frozen for the rest of the season. A rule that concerns four of the six manufacturers present in MotoGP, with Aprilia and KTM still free from this obligation thanks to the technical concessions rule.
As all the technicians were not present, the punching did not take place and this gave manufacturers the possibility to continue to work on the engines, above all to make the most of what they learned in the last Losail tests. Honda in particular appeared to be in difficulty with the 2020 spec bike and the proof of this was that Marc Marquez set his best times in the tests using a bike borrowed from Nakagami’s box, the 2019 version.
We were unable to fly to Losail to personally document the situation, but thanks to the presence there of Niki Kovacs, it is possible to have some important news on the progress of the work on the track. The teams are dismantling all the material and packing up their motorbikes and spare parts to bring everything back to Europe or Japan. Niki is gathering information on what is happening and also had the opportunity to speak with Takeo Yokoyama, HRC technical director.
"As far as I have seen, the Yamaha and Suzuki teams are ready I would say about 80% - Niki reported - thanks to the fact that after the tests most of the technicians remained here, perhaps because the team managers made a very good decision by leaving them here. The Japanese members of the Yamaha Factory team stayed here and as far as they told me, two members of the logistics department also came, for any circumstances. "
"They are also more or less ready to leave in HRC, thanks to the six Japanese team members who stayed here after the tests. I spoke with Takeo Yokoyama, the technical director of HRC and I took the opportunity to ask him a couple of questions. Obviously, he is very sorry for this situation, but he cannot do anything to change it. The only thing they can do is to be ready for the first round of the championship, which certainly will not be in Qatar or Thailand. The first possibility will possibly be Austin, but I don't think anyone currently knows whether or not this Austin race really is going to take place. "
Yokoyama's comments are interesting, because while recognizing that the Losail round could have been a big problem for Marquez, they would still be confident about being able to make a good result.
"A very important aspect concerns the engines. According to the regulations, they should have been punched here in Qatar, before the Grand Prix, but of course this did not happen. So, it seems that the manufacturers will have about a month to carry out any engine development and Takeo has confirmed to me that in Honda they will do it, continuing to work on the engine and aerodynamics. It will not only happen because of the problems that occurred during the tests in Qatar, but because it is the most logical thing to do to continue the development".
"I also asked Takeo if the cancellation of the race was good news for Honda or a problem because it could have been an extra opportunity to collect data - continued Niki - Takeo told me that the best scenario imaginable would have been to do a lacklustre test before the Grand Prix and then have a fantastic race and surprise everyone. As far as I can understand, in HRC they were quite certain that they could surprise everyone with a good result, perhaps even with a victory. Unfortunately, life is not made with ifs and buts, and we won’t see the MotoGP bikes racing here in Qatar".