How did the Qatar test go for Ducati?

With the limitations of the Coronavirus pandemic still imposing themselves on the world, Moto GP was forced to hold just one official pre-season test before the 2021 season gets underway. It’s given us some great information but also looks as unpredictable as ever. Keep reading to find out all the info and our latest 2021 Moto GP fantasy team picks!

The test lasted six days, with day one allotted to the test riders and rookies. Day six a complete washout due to a sand storm ruining track conditions. Still, four days’ worth of data is better than nothing. Let’s analyse the results and see how each manufacturer and their riders seem to be faring at this early stage.

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Will Ducati win the 2021 Moto GP championship?

It’s only polite to start with the man at the top of the table. Jack Miller has taken to the factory team like a duck to water if you’ll excuse the clichéd adage. Miler posted the best one-lap speed ever recorded at the Losail International Circuit, a 1’53.183 on day 3 of the test. Taking the unofficial lap record (only lap times set during Free Practice and race count towards the official time scores.) That’s a blisteringly fast lap time, but of course, one lap pace only matters for starting grid positions, so how’s the race pace, Jack?

Jack Miller 2021 Ducati
Can Jack Miller mount a serious charge in 2021?

Miller was one of few riders to simulate race distance on one set of tyres, which gives us a perspective of his race pace. Miller’s average race pace of around 1’55.237, 2 seconds off of his one-lap abilities. In the standings of the overall average times, this puts him as 9th best and 0.321 seconds off the top spot.

Qatar podium for Ducati?

A mixed bag of results. Despite this being too early for any predictions, I would put a sneaky bet on Miller taking a podium in Qatar. The circuit has always favoured Ducati, with its long straights and the Desmosedici’s ridiculous top speed. Miller has been very happy with his feeling on the bike, proven in his lap times.

“We sort of knew this [the sandstorm] was coming, from the weather forecast and everything, so we prepared ourselves for it. I didn’t expect it to be this bad – we couldn’t do any laps – so it is what it is. That’s why we did our race pace yesterday, and yeah, feeling… at the end of the test, I feel satisfied. I think we did everything we needed to do. As I’ve said before, I have a great feeling with the bike… I would have liked to do a few more laps, like, maybe not another full 22 laps but at least another long run, just to fully understand the rear, just to get a little bit less of that drop [in tyre performance] at the end. All in all, it’s been a really positive 4 days.”

Jack Miller
2021 Ducati wings
Jack looks strong so far!

Peco Bagnaia 2021 win ready?

Francesco’ Pecco’ Bagnaia had a difficult start to his MotoGP career, only one podium and his fair share of crashes. Still, the factory team’s promotion may be the confidence booster he needed to improve those results. Bagnaia posted his fastest lap, a 1’53.444, on the 4th day of testing, 5th fastest in overall combined times. A good opening gambit for the young Italian.
His race pace simulation was also impressive, with average lap times of 1’55.165, 0.072 seconds a lap faster than Miller’s race pace. This puts him at 7th overall in the standings, just 0.249 seconds off first.

Does the Ducati V4S still hold it’s worth on the road?

“I’m very happy. Most of all for the race simulation – I was very constant, very competitive. So, it has been a very good test for me, I work totally different from the test of last year, because I was more focused on the pace, and was very positive for the result that we have achieved. We choose our bike, and we have decided the way to work for the first race, so job done, also for the team, and we can be happy about the test.”

Pecco Bagnaia
Peco Bagnaia 2021
Peco seems to be enjoying Ducati red

Ducati’s chances for a podium on the opening night seems like a promising prospect. However, it is impossible to forget the factory team’s woes with the new compound Michelin tyres that plagued the 2020 season. What are the changes made to the bike to give the team this much optimism?

Ducati running an Aero advantage?

A new aerodynamic package looks like the answer. As constant a fact as it is that the Ducati will always be red is the fact that the Desmosedici’s attempts at turning look like a beached whale attempting to roll over. Alright, that may be an exaggeration, but the fact remains – Ducati’s turning ability has been dismal in past years.

Ducati wings
Can Ducati’s heavy aero package bring success?

We all know that for the 2021’s season, all teams have to run homologated aerodynamic parts from the 2020 season. This mainly relates to fairings and the shape and design of the wings. Teams are free to change other none homologated components and are also free to remove material. It seems that this year the focus point seems to be the front windscreen area for most teams.

Michelin’s new Road 5 tyre tested in the UK

Minimal drag penalty from the wings

The new-look wing design seems to work well at increasing the bike’s stability without costing them any speed. As a result, after this first test, both riders, Jack, in particular, seem to have the confidence to take high-speed corners without shutting the throttle. Even team manager Davide Tardozzi assessed the progress of the new parts with an air of quiet satisfaction.

Davide Tardozzi
Morale in the Ducati camp seems high

“Regarding Jack, he focused on the new faring and brakes, and we work a lot on the temperature of other parts, and we can say under pressure from some situation of settings. Regarding Pecco, we have to decide, with his race engineer which way to follow: if more handling [is needed], or more [stability] on the brakes.”

Davide Tardozzi

This pre-season test has been a successful test for the new look factory Ducati outfit. The bike seems to be working, the riders are happy, and the results speak for themselves. The first race is still two weeks away, but if you’re crafting your fantasy league, or considering placing a bet, maybe a sneaky gamble on one of the Bologna bullets could be a lucrative move!

2021 Moto GP fantasy top picks?

Suppose you are using GridRivals for a 2021 MotoGP fantasy league. The factory Ducati team comes with a £30m salary hit, the most expensive of all the constructors, £5m more than Yamaha, and £10m more than Suzuki. Ducati is almost a certain for points every race, with six bikes on the grid.

Jack Miller hits the list in 6th place, with a salary hit of £24m, the highest Ducati rider with teammate Peco in 11th place with an £18m cap hit. These prices will be reflected in results, so they can fluctuate up and down, but both factory Ducati riders could potentially be a steal, especially Peco, who, if his leg is healed and can get some momentum on the new GP21.


This article was written by the fantastic Rebekah Lee, our resident Motorsport nut and MA Creative writing graduate. She’s been fascinated by all things motorsports since childhood – follow her on Twitter at @bekahjlee