The Motorcycle World Championship 2021 is finally upon us with the season opener Qatar MotoGP 2021 taking place this weekend (March 26-28) at its usual location, the Losail Circuit.
The Championship starts once again under the disruptive shadow of the coronavirus pandemic. The calendar has, in fact, already been re-scheduled to 19 races, with the United States (Texas) and Argentina (Termas de Rio Hondo) postponed until the end of the year.
Without a clear favourite for the title, the new season promises to be one of the most exciting and open ones to date. Joan Mir (Suzuki) will be defending the crown which was the property of Marc Márquez since he first landed in MotoGP in 2013, with the exception of 2015 when it was claimed by Jorge Lorenzo.
The Hamamatsu machines might not have been the strongest during the preseason tests but Mir and his Catalan teammate, Álex Rins, trust the potential of the GSX-RR.
Ducati: The speed to win
The fastest bikes of the winter trials will be in the hands of two new pilots. Australian Jack Miller is taking on the challenge to lead from its predecessors Dovizioso, and together with the Italian ‘Pecco’ Bagnaina, will strive to keep their place at the top of the table on board their Desmosedicis. The Aussie is one the favourites for Qatar MotoGP 2021 win.
Yamaha: On a quest to take the crown
Yamaha is to take its place opposite the “Red Empire”. The machine that got the most wins in 2020 (seven in total), emerges again as one of the main players for the 2021 contest. Frenchman Fabio Quartararo will replace Valentino Rossi to team up with the Catalan Maverick Viñales.
Their satellite team, the Petronas Yamaha SRT will line up Franco Morbidelli, world runner-up in 2020 and his friend Rossi. This season is going to be a crucial one for ‘Il Dottore’ who at 42, might be contemplating retirement at the end of 2021.
Honda: Waiting for Marc Márquez
Honda is to start the season in Losail without Marc Márquez. After the latest check-up from his medical team, a decision was made to delay the Spaniard’s reappearance so as not to jeopardise the recovery of his right arm. Similarly to last season, Márquez will be replaced in the factory line-up by the team’s test driver, Stefan Bradl.
The big news at the team of the golden wing is the addition of Spaniard Pol Espargaró. Following a very successful process of adaptation to the RC213V, he is confident in his ability to fight for the title. ‘Polyccio’ will be filling the vacancy left by Álex Márquez, who is now racing for the LCR Honda satellite team alongside the Japanese Takaaki Nakagami.
KTM: To move on from their test results
KTM ought to do better than it did at their very disappointing winter tests. Brad Binder will remain heading the official Austrian works for the second consecutive year. The Portuguese Miguel Oliveira, previously at Red Bull KTM Tech3 satellite team, will be fighting alongside him.
The pair have enough talent and ambition to raise the bar for the orange machines after becoming the last the first pilots from their respective countries to ever win a Moto GP last year.
Their sister works, the Red Bull KTM Tech3, will be commanded by Iker Lecuona, who is to continue his progress in MotoGP, and teammate Danilo Petrucci who will be the one in charge of showing the way.
Aprilia and Avintia: The fight to not be last
Aprilia Racing Team faces the new season, including Qatar MotoGP 2021, with great optimism following the performance jump which they demonstrated during the preseason tests. Their leader, Aleix Espargaró, was a regular of the top 6 during the training sessions. without Marc Márquez
The Catalan pilot will pair-up with Lorenzo Savadori, who is currently somewhat uncomfortable at the team from Noale after his poor results during the winter tests.
The Sky VR 46 Avintia Racing is meanwhile embarking on a new project led by Valentino Rossi, who has put his trust in his brother Luca Marini and on the 2020 Moto2 champion, Enea Bastianini.
Images of Qatar MotoGP 2021: Suzuki.