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Old 03-17-2015, 05:40 AM   #1
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Rains stops play on third day of Qatar test

Hazardous conditions on final day of preseason testing leaves Ducati on top

Photo: @marcmarquez93

TORRENTIAL rain on the final day of pre-season testing at the Losail circuit prevented any track action due to safety concerns.

Race direction at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar had to issue a red flag early on as conditions were hazardous out on track.

With three hours left of the test session the green flag appeared, but by this time it was too late and teams had already packed up and in the process of leaving. No riders made it onto the track.

The factory Ducati team left the last pre-season testing elated as they dominated the first two days of testing. Andrea Dovizioso was the only rider to break the 1:55 mark setting a 1:54.907 - faster than Casey Stoner’s circuit record by over two-hundredths of a second.

Ducati’s ‘winglets’ made a re-appearance to Dovizioso’s bike on Sunday to enhance the aerodynamics. Overall, the Italian was very impressed with the GP15’s pace especially considering they did not use the softer option tyres. Dovizioso’s team-mate Andrea Iannone finished third on combined times just 0.197s behind.

Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez finished the test second overall just 0.184s off Dovizioso. The reigning World Champion focused on perfecting his race set-up and still believes that the Ducati team are not a threat for the upcoming season.

Dani Pedrosa finished the test down in 6th after trying out a different set of front forks on Sunday, but finished 0.675s slower than Dovizioso.

Movistar Yamaha riders Jorge Lorenzo and Valentino Rossi showed their frustration after two days of the Qatar test as they could not get within 0.5s of the top Ducati. Both riders managed to improve over the course of the test with Lorenzo finished 4th, Rossi 0.081s behind.

Cal Crutchlow finished the test as leading satellite rider on-board the factory spec CWM LCR Honda RC213V despite an small crash on Sunday. The Brit finished in 7th and was happy with the progress the team had made. His team-mate Jack Miller is still adapting to the premier class and his Open-spec RC213V-Ride Smart and finished 22nd.

Team Suzuki Ecstar’s Aleix Espargaro impressed on the first day of the Qatar test finishing 4th fastest. However, Espargaro was unable to improve on his time on the second day and finished 10th on combined times.

Rookie Maverick Vinales had some issues with two crashes on day one damaging both os his bikes. However, the Spaniard was able to improve on his time and finished in 14th place overall.

Briton Bradley Smith finished in 8th ahead of his Spanish team-mate Pol Espargaro. The Brit tested a new swingarm and feels the bike is almost ready for the first race in Qatar. Espargaro improved by almost a second over the two days and finished in 9th after sorting an issue which led to a lack of confidence in the front tyre.

Scott Redding ended the test on a good note after closing the gap on the leading riders on-board the Estrella Galicia 0,0 Marc VDS Racing. The team and Redding also managed a 16-lap race simulation on day two leaving the British rider in 12th overall less than a second behind Dovizioso, only 0.221s behind Pedrosa on the factory Honda.

An encouraging test for the Drive M7 Aspar team as Nicky Hayden finished in 16th place and his team-mate, rookie Eugene Laverty, finshed only 1.435s behind the leading Ducati in 19th.

Aprilia Racing Team Gresini have now decided on the base version of their Ride Smart-GP machine for the Qatar race. Alvaro Bautista finished down in 24th with his team-mate finishing 3 seconds slower than the pace of Dovizioso and finished last.

Less than 1 second separates the top 14 and only 2 seconds between the leading 22 riders. The first race of the 2015 season in Qatar, if test times are anything to go by, is shaping up to be close one.

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