MotoGP 2015: Ducati impress in final pre-season test but Losail track suffers washout on final day

Marc Marquez was also on the pace ahead of next weekend's season-opener but Yamaha's Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo both encountered troubles

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The final pre-season test before the start of the 2015 MotoGP season took place over the weekend at the Losail track in Qatar, giving the teams one last chance to fine-tune their contenders for the year ahead before the season-opening race at the same track next weekend.

With Ducati finally showing signs that their Desmosedici GP15 might be the model that finally mixes it at the top and Yamaha continuing to work on their new seamless shift gearbox, there was a lot to look forward to over the three-day test.

However, rain persisted for the duration of what should’ve been the last day testing and as the track is lit by floodlights it is deemed too dangerous for any activity to take place, meaning the event was cut short by a day.

Here's a look at how the main contenders got on.

Andrea Dovizioso – Ducati Team

For the final test before the season begins in less than two weeks, Ducati made it known they had arrived. Having revealed their new GP15 machine in the last Sepang test, they topped the timesheets on both active days with 1:55.265 from Andrea Iannone on the first day, and 1:54.907 from Andrea Dovizioso on the second day. Dovi was the only rider to lap under the 1:55 mark, at the 5.4km circuit in Losail, Qatar.

This was also without utilising the softer tyre available to them. This option could be stripped from the factory team however, should they win three races during the season. On the Desmosedici GP15 the manufacturer had reinstated ‘winglets’ to the bike of Dovizioso which would aide aerodynamics and they also spent time working with a new exhaust during the test. Overall, both riders are very satisfied with the results.

Marc Marquez showed again why he will be the man to beat this year

Marc Marquez – Repsol Honda

Reigning World Champion Marc Marquez ended the test second fastest overall on his chosen RC213v. With dust on the track appearing to affect the riders on the first day, the second day saw Marquez setting an early top pace of 1:55.242 seconds, a faster time than any achieved on the first day. He spent much of the day leading the timesheets battling with the Ducati’s for the fastest lap, which Dovizioso claimed by the end of the test. Marquez stated however, “it’s clear that our rivals are the Yamaha riders and Dani Pedrosa – they are our rivals for the Championship”.

Valentino Rossi – Movistar Yamaha

Having successfully launched a new seamless shift gearbox for the M1, and arriving at a more flowing circuit that should lend itself to the Yamaha, there was a disappointing start to the final winter test as both riders struggled on the first day. Valentino Rossi suffered an early crash caused by a faulty seal on the front fork, which also featured on the preferred bike. This eliminated one bike and a set of tyres early in the day provoking the team to change strategy and drop the planned race simulation.

Valentino Rossi crashed during the pre-season test in Doha

Jorge Lorenzo said he could not get a ‘good feeling’ throughout the first day and experienced various problems resulting in a lack of rear grip. He completed the test with a top lap of 1:55.500 seconds and 4th fastest, one place and 0.081 seconds ahead of his team mate.

Bradley Smith – Monster Yamaha Tech 3

In the satellite Yamaha team, Tech 3 riders Bradley Smith and Pol Espargaro finished the test in 8th and 9th place respectively on the timesheets, with just 0.01 seconds separating them. British rider Smith appears stronger and stronger as he tests a new swing-arm amongst a long list of things over the two days and finding himself closing in on the factory Yamaha’s.

Cal Crutchlow – CWM LCR Honda Racing

British rider Cal Crutchlow continues to test his new Honda RC213v for CWM-LCR Honda team despite a lowside early crash caused by going into turn two hot on the brakes. Crutchlow closed the gap to the factory riders however and again scored top satellite rider in 7th place, 0.717 seconds behind the fastest time. CWM-LCR Honda Team Manager Lucio Cecchinello says, “I hope Crutchlow can get some podium results and to finish in the top five. I do believe that he needs a bit more time to adapt his riding style to the Honda”.

Cal Crutchlow aboard his CWM-LCR Honda

Scott Redding – Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Racing

Another British rider Scott Redding reached the top 10 of the time-sheets on day one, putting in the most amount of laps and also managing a race simulation later in the evening. He says he’s happy with the work done and on closing the gap to the front runners. Redding finished the test in 13th place overall and 0.896 seconds from the fastest pace.

Aleix Espargaro and Maverick Vinales – Team Suzuki Ecstar

Suzuki Ecstar continue to work the final version of their software for the GSX-RR that will be used this season. Whilst Aleix Espargaro appeared in the top 10 on the first day, he fell to 12th place on the second day, with Maverick Vinales in 14th place and both unable to improve on their lap times significantly from the first day.

The first race of the season will take place under the lights of the Losail circuit on Sunday 29th March.