2014 Valencia Moto2 And Moto3 Post-Season Test: Rabat Rules Moto2, Rins Impresses, Antonelli On Top Of Moto3
Tito Rabat continued his rule of the Moto2 class at Valencia by ending the final day of testing on top of the timesheets and under the pole record at the Spanish circuit. The newly-crowned 2014 champion spent all day working on set up of the 2015 Kalex machine he will be riding for the Marc VDS team next season. Rabat finished just ahead of Johann Zarco, the Frenchman adapting quickly to the Kalex frame in the new Ajo Motosport team. Jonas Folger was close behind, starting his second year with the AGR team.
Alex Rins once again won the battle of the rookies, this time by a clear margin. The HP Pons rider adapted quickly, posting an impressive eighth-fastest time, just two thirds of a second off the time of Rabat. Alex Marquez had a rougher time, crashing twice without any injury, other than to his confidence. The reigning Moto3 champion ended the day in twelfth, just over a second behind his Marc VDS teammate Rabat.
Though testing for the MotoGP class has finished, motorcycle racers in other series still have plenty of work ahead of them. Both the World Superbike series and the Grand Prix support classes have been hard at work, ahead of a busy schedule of testing. The Ducati and Kawasaki World Superbike teams have been testing at the Motorland Aragon circuit, while Moto2 and Moto3 are back at Valencia.
At Aragon, Jonathan Rea made his long-awaited debut on the Kawasaki ZX-10R, alongside 2013 World Champion and fierce rival Tom Sykes. With the World Superbike teams adapting to the new regulations, the two Kawasakis were a little slower than the Ducatis of Davide Giugliano and Chaz Davies. The day started off soaking, with journalists and test riders doing media laps on the 2014 bikes of Tom Sykes and David Salom. Once the track dried out in the afternoon, Kawasaki also joined the action. At the end of the day, both Ducati riders clocked up unofficial times of 1'51.3, while Sykes posted a 1'52.2 and Rea a 1'52.7. As an interesting note, they are running the track in its MotoGP configuration, using the long, sweeping double left hander as the final corner, rather than the longer version used by WSBK when the series races there, featuring the hairpin and then right and left combination leading back on to the front straight. Giugliano's best time is three seconds slower than the best time set by Andrea Dovizioso on the first day of practice for the MotoGP race at the circuit.
After the Valencia tests, the Pramac team issued a press release looking back at how the team's two riders, Yonny Hernandez and Danilo Petrucci, fared in the test, and takes a look at what he expects of the two in 2015. The press release appears below:
Pramac Racing Team ready for Moto GP 2015 - Team Manager Francesco Guidotti's analysis
The Valencia week represents the natural division between motoGP 2014 and 2015 seasons. The Grand Prix assigning the world champion title for the three classes passes the baton to the official tests on the base of which the teams will start to build the following season. And it is from the first 2015 tests that important data come to light with regards to structure, analysis and expectations. The Pramac Racing Team ones are run by the Team Manager Francesco Guidotti.
New Pramac Racing Team Structure
"The team's first rider will be Yonny Hernandez, in the Pramac Racing Team for the second year in a row, after becoming official with Ducati. He will manage the Ducati Desmosedici Gp 14.2 that in the last 5 races of the GP 2014 was driven by Andrea Dovizioso and Andrea Iannone. Danilo Pertucci will race with the Ducati Desmosedici Gp 14.1 used by Cal Crutchlow during season 2914. The mission of the Team is to create the conditions for a technical growth of our riders. We hope Yonny Hernandez and Danilo Petrucci will be following Andrea Iannone's steps as he has been protagonist of a huge growth over the past two years in the Pramac Racing".
The final round up of press releases from the teams and Bridgestone after the final day of testing at Valencia:
Bridgestone issued their customary post-race debrief after the final race of the year. In this press release, Shinji Aoki discusses how well the asymmetric front worked at Valencia:
Valencia MotoGP™ debrief with Shinji Aoki
Monday, November 10 2014
Bridgestone slick compounds available:
Front: Extra-soft & Soft (Symmetric) & Soft (Asymmetric). Rear: Soft, Medium & Hard (Asymmetric)
Bridgestone wet tyre compounds available: Soft (Main), Hard (Alternative)
In the final MotoGP race of the 2014 season at Valencia, Repsol Honda’s Marc Marquez triumphed over Movistar Yamaha MotoGP’s Valentino Rossi and Repsol Honda’s Dani Pedrosa who finished in second and third place respectively, to claim a premier-class record of thirteen victories in one season.
The Valencia Grand Prix took place in cool and unsettled conditions, with a peak track temperature of just 21°C recorded and periods of light rain fall during the race. Marquez was able to set a new Valencia Circuit Record Lap (1'31.515) on the eighth lap of the race in the challenging conditions, as the 2014 World Champion ended the season with another dominant performance.
Q&A with Shinji Aoki – Manager, Bridgestone Motorcycle Tyre Development Department
"This year's machine is not easy to ride," HRC boss Shuhei Nakamoto said of the 2014 Honda RC213V. "More difficult than last year." Given the utter dominance of Marc Marquez in the first half of 2014, that seems hard to believe. It certainly left the journalists gathered for the special press conference convened by Honda to review the season befuddled. "But Honda bikes are always easy to ride!" declared one surprised reporter. "Our bike is very easy, I can ride it, but I don't get under two minutes," Nakamoto said. "But to find the last one tenth, two tenths is very difficult," he remarked.
A look at the timesheets from the test, or a chat with Marc Marquez or Dani Pedrosa about the 2015 Honda, and you understand the problem. On the last day of testing at Valencia, Marquez and Pedrosa finished first and second, but the satellite Hondas of Cal Crutchlow and Scott Redding were a little way off the pace. Crutchlow was eight tenths slower than Marquez, while Redding was struggling 1.6 seconds behind Marquez. In the last race of the 2014 season, Stefan Bradl's fastest lap was just under a second off the fastest race lap, and Alvaro Bautista a fraction slower. The Honda is obviously fast, but it is not easy to go fast on. Too aggressive, too hard to master, a bike with a lot of potential, but extracting that potential takes insight, experience, and the willingness to push an aggressive bike to its limits. It really demands the kind of dirt track background of Casey Stoner or, well, Marc Marquez.
Marc Marquez has ended the final day of testing at Valencia on top of the timesheets, and leaves for the winter as the fastest overall. The Repsol Honda rider spent most of the day trying the 2015 prototype RC213V, but jumped back on the 2014 bike at the end of the day to set the fastest lap. He ended a tenth quicker than his Honda teammate Dani Pedrosa, and two tenths quicker than Yamaha man Jorge Lorenzo.
Lorenzo led an entire gaggle of Yamahas, the Movistar Yamaha rider ending ahead of Monster Tech 3's Pol Espargaro, factory man Valentino Rossi, and Espargaro's satellite teammate Bradley Smith.
Danilo Petrucci caused a surprise, ending the day in 7th, ahead of the satellite Hondas and as fastest of the Pramac Ducatis. Petrucci was a tenth quicker than Cal Crutchlow, who spent the day looking for rear grip from the LCR Honda. Yonny Hernandez was 9th on the second Pramac Ducati, ending the day just ahead of Aleix Espargaro, who was exactly 1 second behind Marc Marquez. Suzuki's test debut was generally acclaimed a success, with both riders heaping praise on the handling of the bike.
Times from the last day of the Valencia test, at 3:30pm
Jorge Lorenzo tops the timesheets at 2pm on the final day of testing at Valencia, leading a very close group consisting of the two Repsol Hondas, the two Movistar Yamahas and the Monster Tech 3 Yamaha of Pol Espargaro. Both Honda and Yamaha are giving their 2015 bikes a run out, Nicky Hayden is out on the RC213V-RS, while the rest of the field are growing accustomed to their new mounts. Stefan Bradl and Loris Baz are testing Kayaba suspension, and evaluating them for use next season.
Testing started in silence, the track still far too wet from yesterday's rain. But the sun came out and the wind picked up, and riders hit the track shortly before twelve. Michele Pirro was the first rider out, the Ducati test rider testing conditions and helping to create a dry line. Conditions are now good, the track getting warmer as it goes on.
Times at 2pm:
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Hunting the Honda
As you read this, the wheels are probably still turning and the spanners still twirling at Valencia’s first off-season tests where the game is the same as it’s been for years: hunt the Honda.
We all know the RC213V is the best bike on the MotoGP grid right now (it’s won three riders’ titles and four constructors’ crowns over the last four years) and we all know why: because while Yamaha’s YZR-M1 carves the line of beauty – nicely arced all the way through the corner – the Honda is in and out, front tyre tucked on entry and a flurry of wheelspin (not too much, not too little) on the exit.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the rained-out second day of testing at Valencia:
It is a good job the post-race test at Valencia is three days long. The weather in Valencia in November is usually very good, but it can turn, and you can lose track time to rain. That was certainly the case on Tuesday, rain starting early in the morning, and coming in waves all day. It meant the track was wet throughout Tuesday, only the depth of water on the track varying. The heavy rain meant that most rider decided to sit out the day, only ten riders putting in any laps.
With the track the way it was, the finishing order was not really relevant. What was more important was gaining time on the track, and for several riders, getting to grips with Bridgestone's wet tires. Eugene Laverty, Loris Baz, and Marco Melandri, all of whom have moved over from World Superbikes, needed to adjust their minds to the Bridgestones. Even Melandri, who rode on Bridgestones the last time he was in MotoGP in 2010, said the feeling had changed a lot. The rear tire got up to temperature much faster than before, Melandri said.
Only ten riders ventured out on the wet track at Valencia, the rain coming and going all day long leaving the track soaked. Danilo Petrucci ended the day as fastest, posting a quick time when conditions let up a fraction. Scott Redding and Alvaro Bautista did a lot of laps, Redding wanting the time in the wet, Bautista familiarizing himself with a new bike in the wet.
The weather forecast is much better for Wednesday, with all of the riders hoping for a full day of testing to complete their test plan.
Times at the end of the day: