MotoGP is Back

After the longest pre-season build-up in history due to the COVID-19 pandemic, MotoGP paddock and PETRONAS Yamaha SRT team will finally take to the track at the Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto with riders Franco Morbidelli, who has recently re-signed with the team for two years, and Fabio Quartararo, for this weekend’s Gran Premio de España.

The PETRONAS Yamaha SRT pairing will had one day of testing on Wednesday to reacclimatise themselves with their machinery and perfect set-up around the 4.4km long circuit, which saw Fabio and Franco both start from the front row of the grid last year, with Fabio on pole.

The last time the duo used their Yamaha YZR-M1 machines was in the final pre-season test at Losail International Circuit, Qatar, where Franco finished the three-days second in the combined results with Fabio third fastest.

During the MotoGP test on Wednesday, both Fabio Quartararo and Franco Morbidelli was able to enjoy two sessions on track at Circuit de Jerez – Angel Nieto today, for the first time since pre-season testing in Qatar. The pair took to their Yamaha YZR-M1 machines for two 90-minutes sessions round the 4.4km long Spanish circuit, although the afternoon session was disrupted by a red flag period.

Quartararo spent the majority of the day adapting to the bike and understanding how the circuit reacts to the intense temperatures that the Jerez area is currently experiencing. Fabio finished the morning session fifth with a 1min 38.312secs lap time. After the red flag period in the second MotoGP session, Quartararo focused on improving settings further. The quickest of the afternoon laps, which was a time of 1min 37.911secs, was enough to propel himself into second in the combined standings.

Team-mate Morbidelli worked on tweaking the set-up from the Qatar pre-season test to work round the Jerez circuit. The Italian set good times in the first session, finishing 9th with a 1min 38.733 lap. Franco looked set to improve upon this further in the final ten minutes of the afternoon session, but a small crash in the last corner prevented him from achieving his full potential. Franco ended the day with a fastest time of 1min 38.646secs, which placed him 12th in the overall times.

Moto 2

Moto 2 will be returning to action this weekend as well, as the PETRONAS Sprinta Racing Moto2 riders Xavi Vierge and Jake Dixon are eager for racing action to resume at Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto, after the enforced break following the Qatar GP.

At the first race of the season Xavi showed good form aboard his Triumph-powered Kalex, finishing ninth and collecting valuable points. The Spaniard will be looking to increase his championship point tally at a circuit he knows well. Team-mate Dixon was also able to collect points from the first round in March at Losail International Circuit after finishing 14th.

The pairing are gearing up for the first Moto2 race in 126 days and are ready to undertake the challenges that this 2020 season will entail, which sees 13 grand prix weekends between now and 15 November. Xavi and Jake will also have to contend with new protocols in the paddock and a reduced team presence due to the Coronavirus pandemic. Same as the MotoGP class, the Moto 2 duo will get a chance to test their bikes on Wednesday.

During the test on Wednesday, Xavi spent the day testing two different set-ups in order to understand which would run better in the high track temperatures that the Jerez track is currently experiencing. Competitive laps in the morning saw the Spaniard finish seventh after setting a lap time of 1min 42.758secs. Xavi didn’t improve on his morning time in the second session of the day, which meant that he concluded the one-day test tenth.

While team-mate Dixon opted to run with the Qatar set-up as his base setting and use the day to tailor this to the Spanish circuit. The Englishman decided to spend the two sessions racking up the laps and reacquainting himself with his bike, instead of carrying out a series of flying laps, in order to minimise risk with the condensed calendar. Jake improved upon his morning time of 1min 43.555secs to finish the day 23rd, with a final time of 1min 43.455secs.

Moto 3

Also returning to action is Moto 3 with PETRONAS Sprinta Racing and riders John McPhee and Khairul Idham Pawi eagerly anticipating the upcoming second round of the 2020 Moto3 season in Spain this weekend at Circuito de Jerez – Angel Nieto, nearly four months after the season-opening Qatar GP.

McPhee is eager to pick up where he left off in the Moto3 championship, after the first round saw the Scot finish second, only 0.053 seconds shy of the win. Team-mate KIP will be looking to continue the improvements made during the pre-season tests and during the Qatar GP.

The pairing face an extraordinary season, rudely interrupted by an enforced break since Qatar. Same with the MotoGP class, the Moto 3 duo headed to track for testing on Wednesday, reuniting the riders with their Honda NSF250RW bikes for the first time since the season-opener. This weekend’s race is the first of 13 across the next 18 weeks, with the paddock set to look very different, devoid of fans and with minimal support crew in attendance.

After eagerly anticipating a return to racing for nearly four months, John McPhee and Khairul Idham Pawi were able to enjoy a highly successful Moto3 test on Wednesday at Circuit de Jerez – Angel Nieto, with McPhee ending the day at the top of the timesheets. 

Despite being apart from his Honda NSF250RW since the QatarGP, McPhee was quickly up to speed in the morning session and showed that he has retained his good form by setting the fastest lap of the session (1min 46.263secs). The target for the day, particularly in the hot and greasy conditions of the second session was to accrue as many laps as possible. The Scot showed great pace with old tyres and ended the day at the top of the timesheets, as no one was able to improve upon his time from the morning.

Team-mate KIP’s mission for the day was also to complete as many laps as possible. The Malaysian rider made good progress in the morning in getting back up to speed and feeling comfortable on the bike. The high track temperatures in the afternoon made it challenging for all riders but KIP rounded out the day with a best lap time of 1min 47.735secs, which placed him 22nd in the combined timings.

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