Official Test Qatar

  • Honda MotoGP Riders Ready to Race after Final Preseason Test

    Honda's MotoGP riders completed preseason testing for the 2019 World Championship under the floodlights in Qatar, where the new season gets underway on the evening of March 10.


Report

Honda MotoGP Riders Ready to Race after Final Preseason Test

Losail International Circuit, Qatar, February 23/24/25, 2019

Honda's MotoGP riders tonight completed preseason testing for the 2019 World Championship under the floodlights in Qatar, where the new season gets underway on the evening of March 10.

Marc MARQUEZ (#93), Jorge LORENZO (#99)

Marc MARQUEZ (#93), Jorge LORENZO (#99)

Honda's target for 2019 is to defend the coveted triple crown – the riders, manufacturers and teams World Championships – which it won so brilliantly last season.

Conditions were far from ideal tonight, but Marc Marquez (Repsol Honda Team RC213V), Jorge Lorenzo (Repsol Honda Team RC213V), Takaaki Nakagami (LCR Honda IDEMITSU RC213V) and Cal Crutchlow (LCR Honda CASTROL RC213V) were satisfied with their work over the three days.

Reigning World Champion Marquez ended the outing fourth fastest, just four tenths off the best time; while new team-mate Lorenzo impressed mightily with the sixth-quickest lap, just 0.04 seconds further back, in his first ride since injury. Nakagami was once again impressive, completing the test in ninth, less than two tenths down on Marquez. Crutchlow was 17th, but never pushed for a time-attack, focusing instead on his race pace.

The entire grid had its work complicated tonight by poor conditions, with strong winds, low temperatures and dew forming on the asphalt, which caused a rash of crashes, all without injury.

Most important for Marquez, Lorenzo and Crutchlow is the fact that they feel they have made excellent progress in rehabilitation from recent injuries and surgeries. Marquez had his troublesome left shoulder fixed in December. Lorenzo had his left wrist screwed after breaking the scaphoid bone during a training accident in January. Crutchlow had his right ankle pinned and plated after a high-speed tumble at October's Australian Grand Prix.

However, the trio's recent physical issues made sure there was much work to be done at Losail, with Marquez quickly getting down to business. The 26-year old Spaniard, who has won five of the last six MotoGP world titles, was relieved to find his left shoulder in stronger shape than it had been at Sepang, following daily five-hour physio sessions. This allowed him to ride in his usual style, whereas at Sepang he was unable to ride at 100 percent. Marquez admitted to still feeling some pain from the shoulder, especially during rapid changes of direction, but the strength of the joint is much improved and he is sure he can get even stronger before the first race.

Marquez gradually built into the tests day by day and was competitive once he had adapted to new electronics settings tuned to tailor Honda's 2019 engine to the circuit layout. He rode 34 laps on day one, 57 laps on the second evening and a further 53 on the final evening, when he crashed at speed at turn six, without any physical aftereffects.

For Lorenzo this was his first competitive appearance of the year and his first ride on the RC213V in full Repsol Honda Team livery. Like his team-mate, the 31-year old has worked tirelessly to regain strength and was happy that he could ride fast enough to gather valuable data. He estimates his fitness will be around 95 percent for the first race.

During these three days of testing Lorenzo worked extensively on his riding position. Finding the right seating position and bike ergonomics was key to his improvements from day one to days two and three, during which he improved his lap times by three seconds. Although he doesn't currently have the strength to do long runs he was extremely satisfied to ride the sixth fastest lap of the test, which confirmed his positive first impressions of the RC213V during postseason tests in Spain last November.

During those Spanish outings Nakagami immediately gelled with the 2018 RC213V he will race this season. Eighth at the Valencia test and quickest at Jerez, he was again delighted with his progress in Qatar. The 27-year-old from Chiba has altered his training program to increase upper-body strength and is now working with new crew chief Giacomo Guidotti, who worked with Dani Pedrosa in 2017 and 2018.

Nakagami was even happier with his race pace than with his ultimate best lap and can't wait to start racing. His goals for his second season in the premier class are impressive: to finish in the top ten race at every race and to occasionally make the top five and even climb the podium, if things go his way.

Crutchlow's best lap didn't put him inside the top ten, but the three-times MotoGP race winner was only a 1.039 seconds off the fastest lap, another indicator that a year of tremendously close racing lies ahead. The 33-year-old Briton's feeling with the 2019 RC213V was much improved on the final evening, but he still has more work to do on the front of his machine. Crutchlow's absence from last November's tests in Spain left him with a lot of work to do at Sepang and Losail, and he admitted he got a little lost while testing new parts on day two here, but he managed to recover a good deal of confidence today.

Although Crutchlow has made an excellent recovery from his Phillip Island crash, his right ankle still isn't perfect. The joint is swollen, requiring the former Supersport World Champion to wear a boot one and a half sizes bigger than normal. The week and a bit remaining before the first race will give him the chance to further improve his physical condition.

The Qatar Grand Prix is the first of this year's 19 races, which conclude at Valencia on November 17.

Takaaki NAKAGAMI

Takaaki NAKAGAMI

Comments

Marc Marquez, Repsol Honda Team: 4th, 1m 54.613s

“I feel ready today, ready to start the season. Like yesterday we did a lot of laps, worked well and made some more steps. We're still not 100 percent but we have a good feeling. Qatar is a track where normally we struggle, but at this test we are there with everyone else. It was a bit difficult with the wind and the temperature on track tonight but we still did what we needed to.”

Jorge Lorenzo, Repsol Honda Team: 6th, 1m 54.653s

“We started the test not adjusting the setting. When we started to work on the setting we were able to improve the bike and our speed. I could ride the bike better, we improved things a little here and a little there and made a big step to be competitive already. We're very satisfied, the potential is certainly there and it is just my third day as an official Honda rider because before I wasn't fully fit. When I'm fit and riding better, we can be even stronger.”

Takaaki Nakagami, LCR Honda IDEMITSU: 9th, 1m 54.789s

“I had a fast crash during today,  but after the crash we improved a lot. I have a little bit of pain but it won't be a problem after a few days. These three days we improved and our final position is really good and the lap time not so bad, very close to top, so a big thanks to the team for a great job and now I'm looking forward to the first race weekend. I'm absolutely happy with our winter testing – at every track we have been competitive, so now we are ready to start the season. Our race pace isn't so bad, with many good laps on used tires and very close to the top five or top six. But this is a test, so we need to focus on the race! This season we will try to be in the top ten at every race and if we have the chance then the top five, or even a podium, would be great. It won't be easy – we need to stay focused and have a really strong season.”

Cal Crutchlow, LCR Honda CASTROL: 17th, 1m 55.247s

“Today my feeling was a little bit better with the bike, but we only had limited resources as realistically there was only one bike to use. Overall, I felt we improved the setting of the bike. Unfortunately, halfway through the session I had a crash, and it took us quite a bit of time to rebuild that machine. We went back out and did a couple of runs, and then we wanted to make a bigger change and that took some time again. We're very pleased with the work we have done, and while we're not pleased with the position, we never went after a lap time today. Overall, I think we have a better pace than what the position says because we just stuck with the medium compound tires tonight. We'll see what we can do in a couple of weeks' time back here in Qatar, but we are all looking forward to being back racing.”

More

Results

Combined Standings Days 1-2-3

Rank Rider (Team)
1 Maverick VIÑALES (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP)
2 Fabio QUARTARARO (Petronas Yamaha SRT)
3 Alex RINS (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR)
4 Marc MARQUEZ (Repsol Honda Team)
5 Valentino ROSSI (Monster Energy Yamaha MotoGP)
6 Jorge LORENZO (Repsol Honda Team)
7 Franco MORBIDELLI (Petronas Yamaha SRT)
8 Pol ESPARGARO (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
9 Takaaki NAKAGAMI (LCR Honda IDEMITSU)
10 Danilo PETRUCCI (Mission Winnow Ducati)
11 Jack MILLER (Alma Pramac Racing)
12 Joan MIR (Team SUZUKI ECSTAR)
13 Francesco BAGNAIA (Alma Pramac Racing)
14 Aleix ESPARGARO (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini)
15 Andrea DOVIZIOSO (Mission Winnow Ducati)
16 Tito RABAT (Reale Avintia Racing)
17 Cal CRUTCHLOW (LCR Honda CASTROL)
18 Andrea IANNONE (Aprilia Racing Team Gresini)
19 Johann ZARCO (Red Bull KTM Factory Racing)
20 Miguel OLIVEIRA (Red Bull KTM Tech 3)
21 Karel ABRAHAM (Reale Avintia Racing)
22 Bradley SMITH (Aprilia Factory Racing)
23 Hafizh SYAHRIN (Red Bull KTM Tech 3)

Photos