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Qatar Test Concludes With Wind and Sand for Morbidelli and Rossi

Qatar Test Concludes With Wind and Sand for Morbidelli and Rossi

Frustrating final day with no running for PETRONAS Yamaha SRT due to poor track conditions.

The final day of pre-season testing in Qatar for PETRONAS Yamaha Sepang Racing Team was disrupted by sand on the circuit due to significant winds, with the track closed for cleaning for a portion of the day. Franco Morbidelli and Valentino Rossi opted not to run when the day’s running resumed in the final hour, ending the test fourth and 11th respectively in the combined times over the past three days.

Morbidelli has shown good speed throughout the Qatar test, regularly appearing among the top riders on the timesheets. Now entering his third year with the Malaysian squad, he has been able to reacquaint himself with his machine and evaluate developments. Morbidelli, who posted his fastest time – 1min 53.323secs – yesterday, completed 241 laps in total and was fourth in the combined times from the past three days.

The pre-season test has been Rossi’s first chance to ride the PETRONAS Yamaha SRT YZR-M1 and acclimatise to his new team for 2021. The Italian tested various parts over the four days of track running, including different chassis options, as well as a new cowling. Rossi’s highlight of the Qatar test came yesterday when he completed his personal best lap around the Losail circuit. Across the four days he completed 212 laps and ended 11th in the combined times with a best lap of 1min 53.993secs.

The next time Franco Morbidelli and Valentino Rossi will be on track at Losail International Circuit will be for the first round of the 2021 MotoGP season: the Grand Prix of Qatar (26-28 March).

Franco Morbidelli

"I feel like this test was really good for us; we’ve been able to try a lot of things and we’ve been quite quick as well, which is good. I’m happy with the work we’ve done and feel ready for the first race weekend. It’s a pity we couldn’t complete a long run to have more data today. Of course, there are always things that can be improved or updated, but we’re in a good place. It’s difficult to say what will happen in FP1 at the Qatar GP, because this track can become quite windy and dusty, like we saw today. We have tried many settings so that we can be ready to react according to the track conditions that we face. The aim will of course be to fight for the top positions, but we will need to see where everyone is at the first GP."

Valentino Rossi

"Today was a shame because we still had some evaluations outstanding. In particular I wanted to do a race simulation, but the conditions prevented this with a lot of wind and sand. Fortunately, the forecast predicted this so we were able to do the important things yesterday. After the four days of running, the balance is good and I was quite strong yesterday. There are a lot of riders on different bikes that are strong, but we’re definitely in the pack with them and our race pace looks to be good. We improved day by day, there is a really good atmosphere in the team, and I feel like we are ready for the start of the season."

Razlan Razali

Team Principal

"Testing is one of the most important activities for preparation ahead of the first race of the year and the Qatar test was made even more important than ever due to the cancellation of the Sepang test this year. Although the results of the test are not conclusive, it does provide us with a base to prepare for the first round, test those things that need it and make sure that everything works. It’s a shame about the conditions today, but I’m pleased to see that both Franco and Valentino have had some very positive sessions: Valentino has been able to test a lot of parts and Franco has been able to work on getting the maximum from his Yamaha YZR-M1. It’s still early days though, what matters is that our two riders are happy and ready for the first round in Qatar."

Wilco Zeelenberg

Team Manager

"Finishing the test with a day of no riding is not really what we wanted, but after four days of good, hard work we are quite satisfied and ready to come back for the race, we were able to test what we needed to. Today’s plan included a long run and some small things to try, but overall the main things have been completed, so we have a clear plan of what we want to do for the race. Both riders have a good feeling with their bikes and we were able to improve lap times, which was one of our tasks. In fact, I think both of them were half a second quicker than they have ever been in Qatar. I’m happy with what we’ve achieved and now just looking forward to the first race."