Testing is set to continue this week in a range of classes, as bikes take to the track in preparation for the 2015 season. The south of Spain will see the most action, with a group of MotoGP teams being joined by the Crescent Suzuki World Superbike team at Jerez, and a selection of Moto2 teams heading to Almeria.
At Jerez, Suzuki and Aprilia will continue work on their bikes ahead of next season. As new factories, they receive the same concessions as Ducati, which means that they are allowed unlimited testing, more engines, they have the softer rear tire, and they are allowed to develop their engines throughout the season. Maverick Viñales and Aleix Espargaro will be riding the GSX-RR for Suzuki, while Alvaro Bautista and Marco Melandri will be taking the Aprilia ART out for further testing.
Ducati will also be present at the test, Andrea Dovizioso and new teammate Andrea Iannone continuing work on the Desmosedici GP14.2. They are still eagerly awaiting the arrival of the GP15, but that bike will not be ready until the Sepang tests, and most likely, only at the second test at Sepang.
One of the things I enjoy most about running the MotoMatters.com website is the ability to communicate and interact directly with fans. Here, and as @motomatters on Twitter (and even one day on Facebook, once I get the page sorted out properly), I derive a lot of pleasure from hearing your questions and answering them to the best of my ability.
Of course, the problem with Twitter is that space to give an answer is severely limited, to just 140 characters. That doesn't leave much space to give as full an answer as the questions usually deserve. Similarly, when responding to comments on the website, I often don't have the time to spend giving the answer the full attention it deserves, as most of the questions and comments come during a race weekend.
With the MotoGP factory riders now finished their on-track work for 2014, the teams have time to reflect on their seasons. The Movistar Yamaha team has done so in a pair of press releases, containing interviews with their riders. Last week, we published the interview with Jorge Lorenzo, which means that this week, it is the turn of Valentino Rossi to look back at 2014. It was an outstanding year for Rossi, and he talks about his motivation, how the changes he made at the end of last year affected his performance, and what it takes to remain competitive at 35 years of age. Rossi makes his intention for 2015 perfectly clear: to be fighting for wins and for a title from the start of the next year:
Q: The 2014 season is over. Can you evaluate your performance?
Valentino Rossi: “I am very happy about my performance this season. The balance was very positive. For me this was the key season to decide my future. Last year I wasn’t very happy and I had to decide whether to continue or not. My target was to get to the front, fight with the top three riders and aim to get onto the podium every race. Last year this wasn’t always possible. I am happy that I was able to make it happen this year. I’ve made some big changes at the beginning of the season, but these have worked and I'm happy for that. Throughout this season I’ve always been strong in the race. I had good races and good battles.”
Q: What do you think about this year’s M1? At the beginning of the championship you suffered some lack of performances, but in the second part of the season the M1 won races with both you and Jorge.
VR: "Our M1 has improved a lot during the season, especially thanks to the good job done by both crews. Silvano, Ramon and all the engineers and technicians have worked very well. All together we were able to improve the bike to make it competitive and winning. It's a shame we weren’t able to improve the performance earlier on because most of the gap with Marc was created at the beginning of the season and then it became difficult to recover. If only we could start the season again now, things would go differently, but that's okay. What’s more important is that the bike has improved a lot and that it’s competitive now.”
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".
With the 2014 MotoGP season at an end, it is time for the teams to look back at the year. In a pair of press release interviews, the Movistar Yamaha team reviews 2014 with its riders. First up is Jorge Lorenzo, who takes a frank and open look back at what has been a very difficult season for him. In the interview, he reviews his own performance, where he went wrong in the first part of the season, how he was stronger at the end of the year, and evaluates his main rivals:
Q: The 2014 season is over. Can you evaluate your performance?
JL: “Well, I think the balance is maybe not one of my best seasons since I switched to MotoGP. This has been one of the worst, not so different to 2008. Back then I wasn’t so consistent, I started well but finished pretty bad. Now it’s a bit the opposite; at the beginning was really tough and gradually I got better. During the season either my performance or the bike was improving and at last the results from Sachsenring becoming better and better.”
Q: Which was the worst moment throughout the season?
JL: “The Qatar-Austin-Argentina period, no doubt. There I felt the pressure and I needed to make a good result because the first two races I struggled a lot and we made some big mistakes.”
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: