Dress rehearsal for british MotoGP™ stars
Posted on Mar 01, 2016 by Nick Harris
Time is getting tight before the first MotoGP™ race of the 18 round 2016 season. The four British MotoGP stars face the ideal dress rehearsal for that crucial first race in under three weeks’ time when they start a three day final test tomorrow at the Losail International circuit in Qatar. The 3.343 miles floodlit circuit will stage that opening grand prix, the Commercial Bank Grand Prix of Qatar, on March 20.
The four Brits arrive after two test sessions at Phillip Island in Australia and Sepang in Malaysia and generally are very satisfied with their progress so far. The new Michelin tyres plus the unified electronics have not caused too many problems before this crucial three days in the desert.
Oxfordshire’s Bradley Smith typically completed a marathon of laps at both tests on the Monster Tech3 Yamaha. He is happy with both his and the team’s progress and will definitely start to up the pace in the three days coming up.
Isle of Man based Midlander Cal Crutchlow is still waiting for the 2016 engine in his LCR Honda. He still managed to finish third fastest overall at the Phillip Island test. The Repsol Honda factory riders Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa have been testing the new engine and once satisfied Crutchlow will receive the 2016 version.
Gloucestershire’s Scott Redding has not only to adapt to the new tyres and electronics but also to a completely new machine. He switched from Honda to the Octo Pramac Ducati team and has made considerable progress both in Malaysia and Australia. He will probably be the lone Pramac Ducati rider with his team-mate Danilo Petrucci likely to miss the test after breaking his hand in a crash on the last day at Phillip Island.
Another rider making a bike change is Irishman Eugene Laverty. His switch from Honda to Ducati power with the Aspar team has been tough after he crashed on the opening day in Malaysia and damaged his wrist. Despite the mixed weather conditions in Australia his confidence and fitness improved. He will cram in as many laps as possible in the next three days.
Three crucial days for the British riders before the opening race of what promises to be another explosive season.
British Trio rarin to go in Jerez
While the MotoGP riders are in Qatar the three British riders in the smaller Moto2™ and Moto3™ classes head for Southern Spain at the first official test of the season in Jerez. The 2.748 miles Jerez circuit stages three days of testing starting tomorrow.
World Moto3 Champion Danny Kent has already impressed on his return to Moto2 during private testing. The Wiltshire rider is joined by his great Moto3 rival Miquel Oliveira in the Leopard Racing team and both riders will pose a real threat to the regulars headed by World Champion Johann Zarco.
Lincolnshire’s Sam Lowes won the Moto2 race at the Americas Grand Prix in Austin last year and has switched to the Federal Oil Gresini team. It’s a combination that should provide a real Championship threat.
In that highly competitive Moto3 class Scotsman John McPhee starts his fourth grand prix season with continued help from the Racing Steps Foundation and with a new name in grand prix racing. He riders a Peugeot for Racing Team Germany, which is a re-badged Mahindra machine.
After Jerez the Moto2 and Moto3 riders go to Qatar for a three day test starting on March 11.
All eyes on Vinales and Suzuki
The spotlight is firmly fixed on Spaniard Maverick Vinales and the Ecstar Suzuki team in Qatar after he led the way in the previous test at Phillip Island in Australia. Vinales, who only celebrated his 21st birthday in January, rode the 2016 GSX Suzuki to top of the charts as he starts just his second MotoGP season. The former Moto3 World Champion could also have the new seamless gearbox to test with Suzuki making big development strides after only returning to grand prix racing at the start of last season.
The Movistar Yamaha pair of World Champion Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi will make decisions about which frame to use this season. Marc Marquez and Danny Pedrosa continue to work on the electronics and engine for Repsol Honda, while the Ducati pair of Andrea Iannone and Andrea Dovizioso continue to develop the GP 16 machine.
Aprilia will debut their RS –GP 16 machine with Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista following a three day private test at the Losail circuit.