Redding the quickest Brit in Qatar finishing sixth
Redding the quickest Brit in Qatar finishing sixth

The time on track appears to have done British rider, Scott Redding, the world of good, as the Octo Pramac Yakhnich Ducati rider managed to finish the three days of IRTA MotoGP testing at the Losail International Circuit in Qatar, as the sixth fastest rider overall.

Despite a slow start to the test, heading into the season opener at the floodlit track in a couple of weeks, a time attack led to him finishing just 0.420 seconds off the fastest man of the test, Maverick Vinales on his new Movistar Yamaha. His teammate, Danilo Petrucci, who is working on familiarising himself with his new machinery, as last years’ results gained him the reigns of the Ducati Desmosedici GP17, finished 18th on the final day.

Petrucci initially quickest out of the Octo Pramac teammates

Day one saw Petrucci finish on top out of the Pramac Racing team duo as he worked on developing the 2017 Italian model. Searching for technical solutions in preparation for the start of the 2017 season, he opted to take to the track on used tyres to complete a long run like a race simulation. Finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th place, he lapped at 1:55.840 which was just over a second slower than the fastest man on the opening day, factory Ducati Team rider, Andrea Dovizioso who had managed to break through the 1:55 minute barrier.

He spoke of how they worked hard to complete “the development program of the bike”; they “had to do so many things” and they managed to “collect a lot of information”. He was left feeling “happy” as for him it meant that during the second session they could “start focusing only on the bike set up”. He was left feeling “pleased with how [he] lapped” on the opening day of testing. He confirmed he only had the chance to do one run of 10 laps which is when he did his best time “at the end with used tyres”.

Petrucci loses confidence as he crashes out on day two

The plan for day two was to “work on pace as well as single lap performance”; they also hoped to “introduce some more improvements”. Despite being unable to match his time from the previous day, lapping 0.03 seconds slower with a lap time of 1:55.830, he was able to continue working on the set-up of his bike. He completed only 33 laps, setting his fastest time on lap 31. Unfortunately for the Italian, he experienced a setback which made him lose confidence, as he crashed at turn 12 when the weather changed and therefore affected the track conditions; catching out many.

He was “not happy with how things went” as he analysed the second session of the three day test. He found the circuit conditions “were not optimal” and that he “struggled to find the right feeling”. When they “started to try something new”, unfortunately for him, the crash forced him to have to remain in his pit garage for a long while. Optimistic about the third and final day he was sure that they could do better, as he said, “I just have to find some confidence back.

Second crash for Petrucci who finished 18th quickest in Qatar

Unfortunately he suffered another crash on the third and final day of testing in Qatar, however the hard work he put in meant he was able to improve his fastest time. Completing another 44 laps, on lap 27 he lapped at 1:55.556, which was 0.017 seconds quicker than the previous day, as well as being enough to secure him 18th on the final day. Just over 1.2 seconds covered the top 18 riders in the MotoGP class, and so despite being so far down in the classification, he still very much remains in contention.

Analysing the outcome from Qatar he declared it was “quite a complicated test”. Explaining how they has “so many things to try” even on the final day, he found that “as a result it was difficult to find the pace”. However, in his race simulation that he completed, he found he “went very well” and in turn it gave him “great confidence”.

He feels that he “should be able to do better with the new tyre” however he said, “That does not matter if we think of the race distance”. He finished by saying, “I go home with a good feeling, and I’m looking forward to returning to Qatar in a week to focus only on performances”.

Redding 15th quickest on day one of testing

Already familiar with his machinery, Redding was able to use the time spent testing in Qatar to overcome issues that he experienced with his Desmosedici GP 16 during the 2016 season. Day one saw Redding finish 15th quickest overall as he focused mainly on the set-up of his machinery. Fortunately, he ended up going in the right direction which meant he was able to use the time to focus on both race pace and lap times.

He finished up the first day with a time of 1:56.085, set on lap 23 out of 37 that was 1.266 seconds slower than fastest man on the opening day, Andrea Dovizioso with factory Ducati Team. Despite finishing so far down the classification, where the top 17 were covered by less than 1.5 seconds, he was left feeling “much more satisfied than the previous tests” where he said they “had to face some issues”.

He revealed that they “struggled a lot in those tests trying to find the problem”, and comparing the opening day of the Philip Island test a month previous, to the opening day in Qatar, he spoke of how at the Losail International Circuit he “immediately felt the feeling and things got better lap by lap”.

He admitted that they had “not changed much” and that he found that when he installed a new tyre, he was “able to improve [his] lap time a lot” and as a result was “happy”. However, he mentioned that when the temperature dropped, he “no longer felt at ease” and admitted that they “preferred not to take unnecessary risks”.

Redding feeling more familiar with his bike by day two

On the second day, the Brit was able to make more developments with his Ducati before completing a time attack which seen him jump up to ninth on the timesheets. On his final lap of 43, he crossed the line with a time of 1:55.353, improving on day one by 0.732 seconds.

Describing day two as a “very good day” he reflected on how well things went the previous day which provided him with an “important basis” which enabled them to continue on and they “worked a lot on the feeling with the front end”. He “found confidence from the first lap” as he explained he “had the feeling that the direction was the right one”. He found that they were also able to “improve the corner speed” which he felt was “an important thing”, declaring, “For the first time in these winter tests I feel this is my bike again.

The Brit finishes winter tests in sixth

Improving by another 0.603 seconds on the third and final day in Qatar, Redding finished up the test as the sixth fastest rider on track. His lap time of 1:54.750 was set towards the end of the session on lap 58 out of 62, as he completed a 20 lap run like a race simulation.

Overall, the Brit was “very happy with how things went” during the three days in Qatar especially “following the difficulties encountered in Malaysia and Australia”. He felt they “did a great job” and in particular again mentioned it was “by improving the feeling with the front end”.

He confirmed there is “still something to do” however again he said “the direction is the right one” and he was left feeling “very confident for the race”. He spoke of how they had “made progress day by day” and he was left thinking he “could do even better on the time attack”. He concluded by saying, “I am also pleased with the pace that I can still improve”.