Press releases from the teams, Bridgestone and Dunlop at the end of the three-day tire test at Phillip Island:
The Repsol Honda team issued the following press release, announcing that they have secured the backing of Indonesian Honda distributor PT Astra Honda Motor for the 2014 season, after a year of absence:
HRC celebrate new collaboration with PT Astra Honda Motor, Indonesia
In an effort to inspire young Indonesian riders to achieve their highest racing dreams, PT Astra Honda Motor (AHM) have partnered up with the Honda factory racing team, Repsol Honda.
The One HEART and Satu HATI logos will be displayed on Honda’s RC213V bike (having already featured since the first Sepang test) and also on the leather suits of team riders Marc Marquez – 2013 MotoGP World Champion – and Dani Pedrosa, for the 2014 season.
This partnership, which also existed in 2011 and 2012, demonstrates AHM’s commitment to growing grass roots motorsport in Indonesia and supporting the development of young riders on both a national and international level. The training of young riders will be conducted through the Honda Racing School (HRS), using Honda’s sport motorcycle the CB150R StreetFire, meanwhile the development of racing teams will be conducted through Honda Technical Racing Training.
The big news on the final day of testing at Sepang was not what was happening on track, but rather what was happening off track. The announcement – trailed here and all around the media since early January – that Ducati would switch to the Open category was the talk of the paddock. And social media. And bike racing forums. And biking bars around the world, I expect. Even though we knew this was coming, it is only now becoming clear just how much of a game changer this decision is.
The announcement was timed curiously, made at the end of the day when the bosses of Yamaha and Honda had already left the circuit and were unavailable to the press. Likewise, the press room had largely emptied out. It appeared to have been made to minimize the impact, especially on the other manufacturers. Honda and Yamaha now have a couple of days to gather their PR might and put together a carefully worded position on the move by Ducati, which will both give the impression they are entirely disinterested in what Ducati have decided to do, while at the same time exuding a vague air of disapproval. Expect to see the verb 'to disappoint' in various conjugations.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams and Bridgestone at the conclusion of the final day of testing at Sepang:
2014 MotoGP Sepang 2 Day 2 Round Up: The Old New Tire, Lorenzo's Lamentations, And Ducati's Open Future (Again)
A cleaner track made for better times at the second MotoGP test at Sepang on Thursday, but conditions remain far from ideal. The track was still greasy, and the added heat made the situation worse. That meant the track remained empty for large parts of the day, the riders waiting for temperatures to come down at the end of the day.
When the riders did go for their fast laps, the usual suspects raised their heads. Aleix Espargaro was quick, Alvaro Bautista was quick, but if anyone was in any doubt about where the real power lies on the MotoGP grid, Dani Pedrosa quickly disabused them of their misconceptions. The Repsol Honda man posted two scorching laps, faster than anyone else was capable of riding. At nearly three tenths of a second, the gap was convincing. When Dani Pedrosa decides to exert his authority, the world listens. Especially when his teammate is absent.
Pedrosa spent the day working on the front of the Repsol Honda, and deciding on which of the two chassis to use for the rest of the year. The quicker of the two options was also less forgiving under braking, meaning Pedrosa elected to pursue the slower of the two frames. Sacrificing a little bit of speed for more stability and less effort to ride seemed like a suitable trade off.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams on the second day of testing at Sepang:
2014 MotoGP Sepang 2 Day 1 Round Up: The Tire Pendulum Swings Against Yamaha, And Ducati's Open Future
If the first Sepang test threw up a few surprises, the first day of the second test turned into a bit a shocker. Anyone putting money on Alvaro Bautista, Aleix Espargaro and his brother Pol being the top 3 at the end of the first day would very, very rich indeed. Though all three had good reason to be further up front – Bautista has a new rear shock from Showa which is a big step forward, Aleix has been fast throughout, and Pol has the new seamless gearbox from Yamaha – their speed should not be seen as presaging a revolution in MotoGP. A dirty track, and several riders not chasing times gave the trio a chance to shine, which they seized with both hands.
Things did not look promising at the start of the day. The track was in poor condition, still dirty after a recent Ferrari test. The Kuala Lumpur region has had no rain for months now, which usually helps to clean the track in between tests. The situation was so bad that the circuit offered to spray the track clean with water, an offer which turned out not to be necessary. Having 23 bikes circulating helped sweep the track fairly well as the day progressed. By Thursday, the track should be in much better shape.
Press releases from the MotoGP teams after the first day of testing at Sepang:
MotoGP returns to the track at Sepang in just a few hours, and the second test at the Malaysian circuit offers just as much intrigue as the first did. Interest at Sepang 2 centers on notable absentees, Ducati's plans, and progress made so far. There is much to watch in Malaysia.
One thing we know for sure. Marc Marquez will not be the fastest man at the second Sepang test. The reigning world champion dominated the first test at the beginning of the month, but a training crash saw him fracture his right fibula. Even in adversity, Marquez' luck held, the injury being relatively quick to heal, the bone not being displaced. He will definitely be back in action at the first race of the year in Qatar, and he could possible attend the Bridgestone test at Phillip Island early next week, but he will be forced to miss Sepang 2.
With Marquez out, others will have a chance to shine, though the question of how any times set would hold up if the Repsol Honda man had been present will remain. Nobody had an answer to Marquez' pace at the first test – especially when you compare his race pace on long runs – and his rivals will have to drop well under the two-minute mark to make an impression.
Spanish petroleum giant Repsol celebrated 20 years of success in premier class racing at their headquarters in Madrid today, and launched the Repsol Honda team's 2014 MotoGP campaign. To celebrate, they issued the following press release and video:
Marquez & Pedrosa celebrate the Repsol Honda Team’s 20th anniversary
Campus Repsol, Madrid, today hosted the 20th anniversary celebration of the collaboration between Repsol and Honda in the Motorcycle World Championship’s premier class. Over the past 20 years, this Alliance has celebrated 10 World titles, 124 race wins and 338 podiums in 500cc and MotoGP.
The longest running partnership between sponsor and manufacturer in the history of the Motorcycle World Championship has enjoyed many sporting successes and also much technological development. Repsol and Honda began their relationship in February of 1995, starting a perfect mix of bike, fuel and lubricant.
One of the great privileges which holding a MotoGP media pass allows is to stand behind the armco and watch and listen to the bikes as they go past. At the Sepang test, I made full use of that opportunity, and wandered over to Turn 3 – the glorious, fast right hander, where the riders get sideways driving through the turn and onto the short straight to Turn 4 – to enjoy the spectacle of the best riders of the world showing off their skills.
There is more to be learned from watching at track side than just how spectacular MotoGP bikes are through fast corners, though. The careful observer can pick up clues to what both the riders and factories are doing. With electronics such a key part of MotoGP nowadays, the track is one of the few places where updates are visible. Updated vehicle dynamics algorithms may be invisible from pit lane (or nearly so, with the occasional addition of sensors or torque gauges the only visible clue), bike behavior on the track will sometimes betray them.
At the end of 2013, Marc Marquez and Dani Pedrosa had asked for more stability under braking, and some more corner speed. Listening to the bikes at Sepang gave a possible clue as to how they had achieved that. The differences in engine note between the various bikes were instructive of the varying levels of electronics, engine braking strategies, and gearbox function.
That Honda have been working on braking and corner entry was audible at Sepang. Though the RC213V always sounded smooth under braking, braking for Turn 4 the improvement was noticeable. As they braked and downshifted for the corner, the Hondas of Marquez and Pedrosa sounded more like a big scooter with a constantly variable transmission than a racing four stroke with six separate gears. Engine revs decreased smoothly, downshifts barely perceptible. There was no popping or crackle of extra fuel burning off, just a smooth, booming descending tone.
The Repsol Media Service have released the second of two interviews with the Repsol Honda teams riders. After Friday's interview with Marc Marquez, today they issued a press release with Dani Pedrosa. In the interview, Pedrosa talks about how he assesses his fitness after the first test, how he spent his winter, and how the test went. Pedrosa reports that Honda have made great steps forward with the bike, and his wish list of improvements is now very short indeed. The press release interview appears below:
“This year we have improved the rear grip a lot. We have taken steps forward”
Spanish rider feeling fit and ready after three days of high intensity testing at Malaysian circuit of Sepang.
Repsol Media Service - Malaysia, Sepang Circuit - Saturday 02/08/2014
Repsol Honda rider Dani Pedrosa used last week’s Sepang test to improve his 2014 Honda RC213V. He leaves Malaysia tired after three days of intense work and very hot conditions, but is pleased with how his body responded to the demands. Pedrosa says that his machine features better rear grip, and that what he picked up most last year was an ability to stay focused under maximum pressure.
How was your winter?