Ducati rider Jack Miller set the new unofficial MotoGP lap record of Qatar’s Losail International Circuit on the first day of the second test.
The Australian, who has joined the factory Ducati team for 2021 after three years at the satellite Pramac team, recorded a 1m53.183s in the closing minutes of the day.
This left him 0.080s clear of Yamaha’s new factory man Fabio Quartararo, who had a few minutes prior eclipsed Marc Marquez’s official grand prix weekend lap record – set in a practice session during the 2019 season opener.
Quartararo had been quickest in the two-day test at this same circuit earlier this month, and his time remained as the pre-season benchmark until the start of the fifth hour of Wednesday’s running.
This was when Miller logged a 1m53.826s, going four and a half tenths clear of erstwhile leader Pol Espargaro.
The rest of the pack subsequently edged closer and closer to Miller’s time, with Honda man Espargaro lapping just 0.073s slower, before Quartararo jumped out to a huge lead with his record effort and then Miller surpassed it.
Quartararo’s team-mate Maverick Vinales – who had a crash at Turn 1 at one point – was alone in getting anywhere near the times recorded by the record-setting pair, ending the day a somewhat lonely third on the timesheets – a quarter of a second down on Quartararo yet nearly four tenths up on fourth place.
This was shared by Espargaro and his former KTM team-mate Johann Zarco, now at Pramac Ducati and setting an identical best time to that of Espargaro’s Honda.
Espargaro’s brother Aleix logged relatively low mileage of 31 laps and had a late crash, yet had done enough to end the day in sixth place, continuing Aprilia’s extremely positive pre-season so far.
The two works Suzukis of Joan Mir and Alex Rins were the only other riders to lap within a second of Miller.
The top 10 was completed by Miller’s team-mate Francesco Bagnaia, and LCR Honda’s Takaaki Nakagami, who had a crash – as did his team-mate Alex Marquez, taking his tally in the test so far to four falls.
Reigning Moto2 champion Enea Bastianini was the sole of the four 2021 rookies to record a sub-1m55s lap in the test so far, and took 14th place, slotting in right behind Petronas Yamaha rider Valentino Rossi.
Honda’s test rider Stefan Bradl was limited to just 15 laps by a crash, which left him with “some pain” in his neck and choosing to instead focus on recovering for the next two days of the test, which will conclude MotoGP’s pre-season programme.
|18||Yamaha test bike 2||1:54.998||1.815|
|27||Yamaha test bike 1||1:57.510||4.327|