Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the final day of testing at Qatar:
Aleix Espargaro has stamped his authority on the final day of the test for non-factory teams at Qatar, blitzing to a remarkable time of 1'54.874 on the Open Forward Yamaha, less than two tenths off the pole position set by Jorge Lorenzo at last year's race. Aleix led an Espargaro 1-2 and a Yamaha clean sweep, ending just ahead of brother Pol on the Tech 3 Yamaha, and fifteen hundredths ahead of the second Monster Tech 3 Yamaha of Bradley Smith.
It was not all good news for the Espargaro brothers, however. Pol crashed towards the end of the evening, falling heavily and breaking his left collarbone. The Spaniard is flying to Barcelona tonight and will undergo surgery to fix the collarbone, in an attempt to be fit for the season opener which takes place in two weeks' time. Pol was not the only rider to crash; both Stefan Bradl and Alvaro Bautista had offs, though neither rider suffered any injury.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams at the second day of the final test at Qatar:
After the Yamahas took the honors on the first day of the Qatar MotoGP test, on Saturday, it was the turn of the Hondas to shine. Alvaro Bautista set a fast time early on during the test, which was good enough stay at the top of the timesheet for the rest of the session. Stefan Bradl grabbed the second spot behind the Go&Fun Gresini Honda of Bautista, the LCR Honda man three tenths slower than the Spaniard. Aleix Espargaro once again led the Yamaha charge with a late lap, but though he came within a tenth of the time of Bradl, he was nearly four tenths off the pace set by Bautista.
Bradley Smith led the Monster Tech 3 team, just behind Aleix Espargaro but once again frustrated at not being the fastest Yamaha. Once again, however, Smith's pace was consistently fast, posting a lot of laps in the high 1'55s and very low 1'56s. Tech 3 teammate Pol Espargaro was 5th, a quarter of a second behind Smith and seven tenths off the pace of Bautista, while Andrea Iannone was the first of the Ducatis on the timesheet, the last rider to get within a second of the time of Bautista.
While their factory counterparts are on aircraft heading back from Phillip Island, everyone not on a factory team (that's factory, small F, not Factory Option, capital F capital O) have spent the day at their own test at Qatar. As always, the first day back at the desert track means a horribly dusty surface, which led a large group of riders to sit out the first hour or so of the test. Once the more eager of the riders - none more so than Danilo Petrucci, keen to get back on a bike for the first time after the winter layoff - had cleaned the track a little, and the track had cooled after the sun had gone down, the full pack headed out for the final test before the season started.
It came as no surprise to see Aleix Espargaro topping the timesheets a the end of the day. The NGM Forward rider has been fast all pre-season, Espargaro extracting every last ounce of performance from the Forward Yamaha, taking full advantage of the softer rear tire made available to the Open class machines (and now nicely color-coded to make tire choice more visible.) There is however no more mention of FTR in the Forward garage, the bikes appearing as Forward Yamahas on the entry list, and Colin Edwards admitting to Motorcycle News that he did not expect to see a chassis from FTR this year. The rumors of unpaid bills appear to have some weight behind them, despite the official denial issued by FTR in February.
Bridgestone is to introduce an improved method of marking slick tires for 2014. A new system of color-coding will make distinguishing between the various options much easier for fans to identify who is using which tire. The four different compounds which could potentially be available at each round (two for the Factory Option category, two for the Open category) are identified using four different colors: red for hard, black (or no stripe) for medium, white for soft, and green for extra-soft. Below is the Bridgestone press release explaining the color-coding system:
Bridgestone introduces new slick tyre marking system for 2014 MotoGP™ season
Friday, March 7 2014
From the first race of the 2014 season, Bridgestone will employ a new colour marking system for its MotoGP™ tyres to make it easier for spectators to see which front and rear tyre options each rider is using at a given time.
MotoGP Rule Change Imminent: 'Intermediate' Category To Be Added Between Factory Option And Open Classes
The CRT-replacement Open class in MotoGP is causing an even bigger shake up of the class than was expected. The outright speed of the Forward Yamaha at the first two Sepang tests provoked a testy response from Honda, who claimed it was entirely against the spirit of the rules. Then came news that Ducati was to switch to an Open entry, giving them the freedom to develop their engines and use more fuel, in exchange for giving up their own ECU software. This provoked an even angrier response from Honda, Repsol Honda team principal Livio Suppo telling the MotoGP.com website that they were unhappy with the introduction of the new ECU software Magneti Marelli brought to the second Sepang test, which was much more sophisticated, though it was not used by the teams.
It seems Honda's complaints have not fallen on deaf ears. Today, in an interview with Spanish sports daily AS, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta announced that a third, intermediate category is to be introduced for 2014. The new category, which Ezpeleta dubbed 'Factory 2', will see Ducati start the season under the full Open regulations: 24 liters of fuel per race, 12 engines per season, not subject to the engine development freeze, unlimited testing, and a softer rear tire, in exchange for using the spec championship software managed by Magneti Marelli. However, should Ducati win a race, or take 2 second places, or 3 third places, then they will lose some of their advantage. Fuel will be reduced from 24 to 22.5 liters, and the engine allocation will be reduced from 12 to 9 per season.
Press releases from the teams, Bridgestone and Dunlop at the end of the three-day tire test at Phillip Island:
The five factory MotoGP riders and four Moto2 men have wrapped up the test at Phillip Island. The nine riders worked their way through the Sisyphean task of testing the vast mound of tires Bridgestone and Dunlop brought to the test, to assess compounds to be used in the race in October. The weather was very mixed on the final day, making for a more accurate reflection of the conditions likely to prevail during the race, after two days of hot, Australian summer on Monday and Tuesday.
Jorge Lorenzo was fastest man on the day, as he has been throughout the test, though the focus on the final day was on race simulations. Lorenzo did almost complete race distance at a very constant pace, though his teammate Valentino Rossi was faster over a shorter, half race distance run. Dani Pedrosa was forced to cut his race simulation run short with neck pain, brought on by having spent six of the past eight days testing a MotoGP bike. Cal Crutchlow also had to call an early halt to his race simulation, as his front tire suffered problems at the end of 17 laps. The front tires were not an issue at the race last year, this tire test having been called because of issues with the rear tire.
MotoMatters.com is delighted to feature the work of iconic MotoGP writer Mat Oxley. Oxley is a former racer, TT winner and highly respected author of biographies of world champions Mick Doohan and Valentino Rossi, and currently writes for Motor Sport Magazine, where he is MotoGP correspondent. We are featuring sections from Oxley's blogs, which are posted in full on the Motor Sport Magazine website.
Why the door was left Open for Ducati
Dorna’s Open plan is to get all the factories using their software to make MotoGP racing closer and safer. Open this, Open that, Open the other; that was all everyone was talking about at Sepang last week.
Aleix Espargaró ended the test at the sharp end and ahead of three of the four Factory-spec Yamahas on his Open-spec YZR-M1. It will be a huge thrill to have Espargaró battling up front, putting a few factory noses out of joint.
The even bigger deal at Sepang was Ducati deciding it’s no longer a factory team but is instead an Open team. Honda and Yamaha are raging about this because the whole point of the Open regs was to give poorer privateer teams a helping hand, not to help one factory outflank the others.
It is finally official. Yamaha have today announced that they have signed a five-year deal with Spanish telecommunications company Movistar to act as title sponsor for the factory Yamaha team. The deal will see Movistar branding appear prominently on fairings, leathers, team uniform, team trucks, etc, and the team be called Movistar Yamaha MotoGP.
The deal had been rumored since the start of the year, and had been confirmed unofficially last week, when Movistar presented its TV schedules. But the formal announcement came only today, when the Spanish firm unveiled the price structure for its pay-per-view offering in Madrid. The contract had been a long time in the making, as a conflict over fairing space with sponsor Monster, who had signed a two-year deal with team at the beginning of last season. According to reports in Spanish magazine Solomoto, appearing on the US website Sport Rider, Yamaha Racing boss Lin Jarvis had flown to the US to help settle the deal with Monster. This was key, as Movistar is both offering much more money than Monster - the Sport Rider report claims it is twice as much - but the deal is also for a longer period, stretching for five years, while the Monster contract expires at the end of this year.
Press releases after the second day of the tire test at Phillip Island:
The tire test at Phillip Island continues, with a selection of MotoGP and Moto2 riders putting new specs of tires from Bridgestone and Dunlop through their paces in an attempt to avoid a repeat of the fiasco of last October. After the first day of testing, where the riders tested a large selection of various compounds and constructions, the second day of testing concentrated on the tires which showed the most promise from the short runs on Monday.
Though Jorge Lorenzo was fastest on the day, his time was still over a second off the lap record set by Marc Marquez in October. But fast times were less important than tire enduranc, and Dani Pedrosa, Valentino Rossi and Cal Crutchlow all posted long runs towards the end of the day. Pedrosa managed 20 laps, or just over two-thirds race distance, while Rossi and Crutchlow both did runs of half race distance. Lap times were consistent, with little drop off towards the end. Bridgestone were very happy with the data, and have narrowed the selection down to three possible tires, and hoping to leave with just two options for development ready for the race in October. Jordi Torres did a race simulation on the Moto2 Dunlops, but the tire did not produce the lap times which Dunlop had hoped. The data was useful nonetheless, as it provides further input for development.