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MotoGP, Testing begins in Qatar: everyone chasing Ducati, the desert fox

Tomorrow and Tuesday (from 12pm to 7pm) the riders will be at Losail for the final winter tests. Aprilia and KTM will have to take the last step, Honda and Yamaha continue to build their future

MotoGP: Testing begins in Qatar: everyone chasing Ducati, the desert fox

MotoGP has left Malaysia to arrive in Qatar. On the Losail track everything is ready for the final two days of winter testing which will start tomorrow at 12pm (Italian time) and end at 7pm. It will be the last opportunity for everyone to try their latest innovations and prepare for the first Grand Prix, scheduled on the same track in 3 weeks’ time. At Sepang all the manufacturers showed their cards, focusing above all on the aerodynamic part. The reason is simple, for the first race the first version must be approved and now the fairings are puzzles to be put together as you like with fins and spoilers that can be put on and taken off. Finding the right combination is fundamental and in Qatar everyone will be looking for the confirmation they need before making the final decision.

The time for experiments, however, is running out and they will need to start working on performance too. So everyone will take advantage of the tests to arrive as ready as possible for the race. From this point of view, the hare still seems to be Ducati. Whether we are talking about the GP24 or the GP23, it is still the benchmark. At Sepang the first 3 places in the standings were taken by the new bike (which convinced the riders from its very first outing in Valencia), but the old one still has a lot to say, especially in terms of the distance (Di Giannantonio was uncatchable in the sprint simulation race).

So, while Bagnaia, Bastianini and Martin (Morbidelli will miss these tests due to the accident suffered at Portimao) still have to refine the 2024 Desmosedici and find further confirmation on a different track, for the other Ducatisti the only thought will be the beginning of the championship. With some differences, because if the aforementioned Di Giannantonio already seems to be perfectly at ease on the GP23, the same cannot be said for his teammate Bezzecchi, who has yet to understand last year's bike. Alex Marquez seems to be halfway between the two VR46 riders, while Marc will continue his 'training' on the Rossa. The 8-time world champion is already fast, but not at the level of the best. The automatisms of more than 10 years on the Honda do not disappear in a day and the Spaniard still has to understand all the secrets of the Desmosedici (especially how to make the most of it in the flying lap).

Aprilia and KTM instead want to catch up with Ducati. Lots of new developments arrived at Sepang from Noale, especially regarding aerodynamics. Espargarò, Vinales, Oliveira and Savadori have had their work cut out to try everything and now they have to understand what to choose. Technical director Romano Albesiano explained that there are more than 20 possible configurations on the RS-GP and this makes it clear that the riders' work is anything but trivial.

Even in Austria they haven’t been standing around idle during the winter and Dani Pedrosa and Pol Espargarò (in the new role of test rider) made their contribution. Binder worked calmly and concretely, showing speed towards the end, while Miller seemed to be in more difficulty. However, the new RC16 seems to be competitive and Pedro Acosta also demonstrated this, with performances that are not such a foregone conclusion for a rookie. The bad news, however, came from Augusto Fernandez, who absolutely must find the right direction in Qatar.

Last (in the list and in performance) Honda and Yamaha. The Japanese must bridge the gap with the Europeans and concessions will give them a big hand. The road, however, is still long. Between the two, the Iwata company seems to have the advantage. Italian technicians (from Marmorini to Bartolini) are bringing a breath of fresh air and the Japanese are giving them freedom. The M1 is not yet at the level of its best competitors, but the path is the right one and the first results may not take too long.

In Tokyo, however, they completely revolutionized the new bike. A casual glance at the RC2123V is enough to understand how very different it is from the bike that preceded it. The change has been appreciated by the riders (including the new arrivals Marini and Zarco), but clearly it will take time to fine-tune the new project.

The two days of testing in Qatar are about to begin and will give everyone their first answers.


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