MotoGP title runner-up Franco Morbidelli concluded 2021 pre-season testing as one of three Yamaha riders bookended by the Factory Ducatis of Jack Miller (1st) and Francesco Bagnaia (5th) at the top of the Qatar timesheets.

That was over one flying lap, the final day sandstorm cancelling many planned race simulations, making the all-important race pace ahead of the March 28 season-opener harder to predict.

However, Chris Pike's analysis indicated that over the final two days of testing the top nine riders (representing five different manufacturers) were covered by just 0.321s in terms of their average lap time.

For Morbidelli, already singled out by the likes of Jack Miller as a title contender this year despite remaining on A-Spec Petronas Yamaha machinery, there currently look t be three brands in Qatar victory contention.

"We were able to improve our pace, even though track was a little bit slower [on day 2 of 3] and felt more comfortable on the bike. So we improved what we needed, but looking at the other guys, everyone is improving," Morbidelli said.

"The Ducati looks really strong, Suzuki looks very strong as well. The other Yamahas, also Vale, so the other three Yamahas were very fast. At the moment it looks like it's a Yamaha-Ducati-Suzuki battle."

Fastest of all, at least over a single lap, was Miller.

Morbidelli said he didn't get to ride with the Australian but has no doubts that he will be a 'top contender' for the Losail races and 2021title.

"I didn't follow Jack or see him on track. What I saw [from the timesheets] is that he's really fast, has a really good pace and is really fast in a straight line," said Morbidelli, who narrowly beat Miller for victory in Valencia then lost out to the then Pramac rider for second place at the Portimao finale.

"Moreover, Jack was really fast last year and ended the season with a great rhythm so for sure he's one of the top contenders for these next two races and this world championship."

Since Qatar, Morbidelli has been training on a road bike at Mugello, suffering this mishap:

Free practice for the Qatar Grand Prix starts on March 26.

 

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