Final test of the winter gets underway

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The final test of the winter takes place this weekend in Qatar with three days of running for the full time MotoGP riders and another one day test for Michelin with the factory contracted test riders.

The "phoney war" of pre-season will come to a close on Monday evening at the circuit of Losail and while not every question will be answered after three tests spread over six weeks there will be plenty of evidence to paint a picture of what the new season will bring.

In Malaysia Marquez was blisteringly quick but with Yamaha having been able to match the Repsol Honda rider's long run pace it's clear that, at the moment, there's little to choose between the two factories. Sepang however, with long straights and heavy braking, plays to the traditional strengths of the Honda and Losail's more flowing nature should give Yamaha a chance to show their credentials ahead of the new year.

Yamaha has won five times in Losail, Honda and Ducati have split the other six races, but with the all-new for 2015 fully seamless gearbox the lessons that Yamaha learned under braking in Malaysia will have had to percolate through the team and it will be very interesting to see if they have found improvements in how to get the most from the package.

The test also marks an opportunity for Ducati to take stock of the GP15 on a new circuit and see whether it can translate it's impressive Sepang 2 showing to Qatar. The new bike was given rave reviews by both riders with the handling problems that have plagued the team now looking to be a thing of the past.

We won't be given answers to all our pre-season questions when testing concludes but there will certainly be less question marks hanging over the teams when the first round of the season gets underway with opening practice on March 16.

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Steve English

By Steve English