until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League


‘Unbelievable’ record MotoGP test pace isn’t the reality

by Simon Patterson
5 min read

until Abu Dhabi Autonomous Racing League

“The lap times that Fabio and Jack did are unbelievable. It’s incredible, because it isn’t even the soft tyre – it’s the medium from last year! So it’s really fast!”

That was how Yamaha rider Maverick Vinales reflected on the pace his team-mate Fabio Quartararo and Ducati’s Jack Miller set as they went second and first respectively on the opening day of MotoGP’s final pre-season test yesterday – both lapping under Marc Marquez’s absolute lap record of 1m53.380s at the Losail International Circuit.

Miller ended the day with a lap of 1m53.183s, 0.08s faster than Quartararo – but was quick to point out that conditions had as much to do with the result as his own pace, thanks to a “perfect storm” of humidity, temperature and wind speed.

“The weather conditions were begging us to do it, so we had to have a go” :: Jack Miller

“The conditions have most to do with the times,” insisted the Australian afterwards.

“You can’t ask for better conditions here in Qatar. There was no wind, and there hasn’t been any since the last test, so no sand has got on the track.

“The track is clean, the temperature is good, the humidity was really low, like 60%. It was the perfect storm to do those times.

“Everyone is pushing a little – Fabio has already done a fantastic lap, and Maverick’s pace is incredible as always.

“I have a great feeling with the bike, and we only put two soft tyres in, with the last set just to throw out a lap time.

“The weather conditions were begging us to do it, so we had to have a go.

“I’ve not really been focusing on doing those laps, just on doing my job.

“I’ve been trying to understand the bike, to get it moving in all areas.

“As a motorcycle rider it isn’t easy to get a bike working well in every area, so we’re just trying to get it the best we can and to complete the package.”


Despite his speed both over one lap and on longer runs, Miller was quick to being reality back into the conversation afterwards, by pointing out that the ideal conditions of testing don’t always line up with the realities of a race weekend.

“The lap times in testing are always something special – if I went off my race pace times today, I would win the race by 15 seconds,” he joked.

“But there’s a lot of factors we don’t get in the test that are there in the race. The Dunlop rubber [from Moto2 and Moto3] being down on the track, the conditions of the race at that time, and the less rubber being laid down in general.

“The bikes enjoy it when there’s a lot of rubber down, because one, it lets you go faster and two, it lets you use the tyres less.

“I don’t think we can take too much from the race pace, and I think we should wait for the race weekend.

“It’s been a while since we’ve raced, or even had to ride on Dunlop rubber, so we’re just trying to understand how the bike is working to be ready for most situations.”

With five days of pre-season testing in Qatar followed by two races, Miller also reckons there’s a chance the Losail double-header won’t really be a true picture of the 2021 season.

He’s without a doubt among the favourites to fight for the win in two weeks’ time, but even he admits that that could well be a false dawn given the amount of time spent on track at this one venue.


“In Qatar, it generally feels like most bikes work well, and we’ve seen in the past that the grand prix is normally quite close to the punch – all the manufacturers are involved in it,” said Miller.

“The real understanding of how the championship will be and how everything will go will come once we leave Qatar and go to a track where no one has really tested and where we’re just there for a normal grand prix.”

“The lap I did was one of the best I ever did” :: Fabio Quartararo

Though Quartararo felt his sub-record lap was a very special effort, he said overall Wednesday had been a long and hard day of working on the M1.

“The first part of the day was difficult,” he conceded, “because I was making five laps then stopping for 45 minutes, then making another 10 laps and stopping again. My pace wasn’t so great.

“Then we changed, I improved myself in my riding, and in the end I’m happy because we’ve improved a lot.


“The lap I did was one of the best I ever did. Jack made it a little bit faster, but I’m really happy about it.

“We’re in the right direction, but we’re still missing a little bit.

“I’m feeling good – you don’t do a 1m53.2s lap if you’re not feeling good, and my pace was great as well – but I hope to make a step in the last two days.

“Every day feels better, and I hope that I can find that extra one or two tenths on the pace.”

But while he might not have felt as comfortable as he’d hoped for, Quartararo also admitted that he didn’t expect his lap time to be beaten – and that seeing Miller’s name jump ahead of his came as something of a shock!

“Honestly, I thought he wasn’t going to be in front of me today,” he laughed.

““When I looked at the tower with the results on it and I saw his number above me I laughed in my helmet – I won’t say the word [I called him].”

And Vinales may have admitted he was amazed at the times Miller and Quartararo set, he also reckons he has a lot more time to find – perhaps with a first ever 1m52s lap of Losail in his mind as testing continues.


“I didn’t use a real time attack with two new tyres,” said Vinales.

“I put in one tyre and I pushed, not at my maximum but close to it.

“I’m happy, because the bike responds really well and I felt good and I know I can be faster.”

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