MotoGP: Miller breaks MotoGP record in Qatar

Jack Miller (Ducati shown above) set an unofficial all-time lap record around the Losail International Circuit on Day 3 of the Official 2021 MotoGP™ Qatar Test, the Australian storming his way to a 1:53.183 to finish 0.080s ahead of second place Fabio Quartararo (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP). Maverick Viñales made it two Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP bikes inside the top three as the Qatar Test revved into life on Wednesday.

After seeing the factory riders testing the intriguing new Ducati aero, Zarco was today giving it a whirl in Losail and judging by the timesheets – if indeed his best laps were with it on – the Frenchman was feeling good. Miller was sitting top of the timesheets for quite a substantial amount of the afternoon, until Quartararo slammed in his rapid time. So far, so good for Miller in Qatar who headed out at the end of the day, did a flying lap, went top, and pitted again. Confidence flowing on the Australian’s side of the garage. Miller said his best lap felt “mega” and described the conditions as “perfect” and he got through all the things he needed to get through on Wednesday.

Fabio Quartararo

Francesco Bagnaia (Ducati Lenovo Team) ended Day 3 in P9 as the third fastest Desmosedici rider on track, 51 laps were completed by the Italian and he finished 1.053s off Miller’s time. Bagnaia was concentrating on his longer run pace and made a big step compared to Sunday, and Pecco was pleased with his Wednesday’s work. Fourth fastest Zarco was “pretty happy” with the progress being made, and the Frenchman added that the GP21 has “huge potential” – promising signs for the Bologna factory.

Enea Bastianini (Avintia Esponsorama Racing) was the fastest rookie on track in P14, the reigning Moto2™ World Champion was P14 on the timesheets and finished ahead of Alex Marquez (LCR Honda Castrol), Stefan Bradl (Honda Test Team) and Danilo Petrucci (Tech3 KTM Factory Racing) – impressive to say the least. The Italian was also just 0.120s behind nine-time World Champion Valentino Rossi (Petronas Yamaha SRT) and is settling into MotoGP™ life very well indeed.

The other two rookies are looking great too. Jorge Martin (Pramac Racing) improved his previous best time by half a second and has been checking Miller and Zarco’s data, confirming that in “three or four corners” he could immediately go faster. Martin placed P19 with a 1:55.010, with Luca Marini (SKY VR46 Avintia) three tenths behind Martin in P22.

In the Yamaha camp on Day 3 of the Official Test, as well as Yamaha’s stunning white and red 60th Anniversary livery, a new mudguard and front fork covers were seen being tried. The reasoning is unknown to us, but it could be to create smoother airflow into the radiator to potentially increase top speed. The riders were also doing back-to-back runs on the new and old chassis to get some final confirmation on if any improvements have been made.

The factory duo strutted their stuff in the closing stages to finish P2 and P3, with Viñales completing the most laps of anyone on Day 3 at Losail. The Spaniard did suffer a crash at Turn 1 but thankfully he was unharmed, and Viñales was apparently doing plenty of practice starts at the end of pitlane – an area to work on for sure. Overall, a good day on paper for both Quartararo and Viñales. The former said that he’s found some good pace on used tires and he was very happy about his fastest lap on the new chassis, and his day – in general – was really good, despite Miller beating his effort.

Petronas Yamaha SRT’s Franco Morbidelli and Valentino Rossi both finished outside the top 10, the Italians were 1.1 and 1.4 seconds adrift of the best time respectively, but that shouldn’t be looked too much into. Rossi’s main concern was the rear grip on Sunday evening, and The Doctor also said that the new chassis was much closer to the 2020 one, rather than the 2019 one. An intriguing couple of days are coming up for the Iwata factory, that’s for sure.

Pol Espargaro’s adaptation to the Repsol Honda Team machine continues to be seamless. The Spaniard was leading the way at midday and eventually snuck into the 1:53s on just his third day on the RC213V. Already, Pol Espargaro is nearly half a second quicker than he was on the KTM at Losail last season and just half a second shy of Marc Marquez’s all-time lap record in Qatar. The number 44 was also seen using Honda’s carbon bonded chassis, it seems the Japanese factory have chosen this as the way forward. 53 more laps were completed by Espargaro on Day 3, another fantastic day at the office.

Pol Espargaro

Stefan Bradl’s Day 3 ended early after a crash at Turn 2, the German was reported to have pain in his neck and decided to sit out the rest of the day. LCR Honda Idemitsu’s Takaaki Nakagami also crashed, as did LCR Honda Castrol’s Alex Marquez – that’s now seven crashes between them in the Qatar Test. Nakagami was the quicker of the two and snuck into the top 10 on a day where he tested some new items, the Japanese rider reported that they were working very well in some areas. More time is needed, according to Nakagami, to confirm which chassis is the one to go with. He has a “much better” feeling on the bike than on Saturday and Sunday, teammate Alex Marquez finished P15 on the timesheets.

Day 3 Times

1 Jack Miller AUS Ducati Team (GP21) 1m 53.183s 51/51
2 Fabio Quartararo FRA Monster Yamaha (YZR-M1) +0.080s 55/62
3 Maverick Viñales SPA Monster Yamaha (YZR-M1) +0.327s 75/77
4 Johann Zarco FRA Pramac Ducati (GP21) +0.716s 62/65
5 Pol Espargaro SPA Repsol Honda (RC213V) +0.716s 47/53
6 Aleix Espargaro SPA Aprilia Gresini (RS-GP) +0.788s 20/31
7 Joan Mir SPA Suzuki Ecstar (GSX-RR) +0.895s 57/57
8 Alex Rins SPA Suzuki Ecstar (GSX-RR) +0.960s 56/63
9 Francesco Bagnaia ITA Ducati Team (GP21) +1.053s 29/51
10 Takaaki Nakagami JPN LCR Honda (RC213V) +1.079s 38/50
11 Franco Morbidelli ITA Petronas Yamaha (YZR-M1) +1.184s 37/55
12 Miguel Oliveira POR Red Bull KTM (RC16) +1.343s 50/58
13 Valentino Rossi ITA Petronas Yamaha (YZR-M1) +1.435s 45/56
14 Enea Bastianini ITA Avintia Esponsorama (GP19)* +1.555s 43/44
15 Alex Marquez SPA LCR Honda (RC213V) +1.747s 42/56
16 Stefan Bradl GER Repsol Honda (RC213V) +1.791s 4/15
17 Danilo Petrucci ITA KTM Tech3 (RC16) +1.795s 46/48
18 Yamaha Test2 N/A Yamaha Test Rider (YZR-M1) +1.815s 28/53
19 Jorge Martin SPA Pramac Ducati (GP21)* +1.827s 25/44
20 Brad Binder RSA Red Bull KTM (RC16) +2.096s 24/50
21 Iker Lecuona SPA KTM Tech3 (RC16) +2.132s 43/47
22 Luca Marini ITA Sky VR46 Avintia (GP19)* +2.145s 21/54
23 Dani Pedrosa SPA KTM Test Rider (RC16) +2.457s 28/58
24 Sylvain Guintoli FRA Suzuki Test Rider (GSX-RR) +2.459s 38/52
25 Lorenzo Savadori ITA Aprilia Gresini (RS-GP)* +2.985s 30/39
26 Michele Pirro ITA Ducati Test Rider (GP21) +4.072s 25/29
27 Yamaha Test1 N/A Yamaha Test Rider (YZR-M1) +4.327s 39/64
28 Takuya Tsuda JPN Suzuki Test Rider (GSX-RR) +4.612s 25/27

* Rookie